Five times a year, we get to drop everything and have Brave Girl Camp…and even after five years we are still pinching ourselves that this is our ‘job’. (Me: “Hey Melody”… Melody: “What?” Me: “We’re working!”…Melody: “I know!!! I love my life!”….)
The days before Camp are always a whirlwind of creativity as we and our team pull together all of our newest ideas for making the week absolutely as special and pampering and (of course) as beautiful as we possible can….thrifting, repurposing, rethinking, getting creative. Here’s a quick tour of 14 ideas from the dining area of the Ranch House. You’ll see that we use a muted, neutral color pallette here…saving a crazy riot of color for the Art Barn (we’ll share those photos in a separate post). Let’s go take a look….
1. Use a gorgeous quilt as a luxurious tablecloth. We repurposed a cotton ivory matellasse quilt as a tablecloth to make the perfect foundation for our mix of hard and soft textures, glass and metal and fabric. We LOVE the feel of the thick, sumptuous quilt on the table. Who says a tablecloth has to be a tablecloth? (not us)
2. A tablerunner made of…. (you’ll never guess)….galvanized steel. It helps to have a fella handy who has a work shop and a love of metals. Marq cut a sheet of galvanized steel into strips, then sanded the edges. We carefully wiped them down and laid them down the center of each table. Because the ends and corners were still a little sharp, we broke out the hot glue gun to attach a band of narrow lace to each end to protect those walking close to the tables. The steel runners protect the tablecloth and make such a warm glowing backdrop to the twinkle lights and candles. Steel is for girls. don’t you think? If you don’t know anyone who can cut metal for you, see what you can find in junk stores and recycled building supply stores for your own version.
3. Vintage Silverplate Flatwear…no matching allowed. Patrice brought her collection of vintage silverplate flatwear, and it happily became the most perfect ‘jewelry’ for our tables. Nothing matches which of course only adds to the charm. If you’re looking for an excuse to go junkin’, here it is. You can find silverplate in junk stores, thrift stores, and antique stores for less than a dollar to a few dollars for each piece. A little tarnish makes it absolutely perfect.
4. Bead charms for water goblets. A meal becomes an ‘event’ when you add pretty little details, like a ring of glowing beads around the stem of each goblet. There were made quickly and easily from beads we had on hand strung on loops of memory wire. So pretty! (PS…don’t they look stunning on the galvanized steel table runner? Love this closeup…)
5. Fresh flowers…a stem or two in small glass bottles. Making a stunning flower arrangement is virtually foolproof (and very affordable) when you place just a stem or two of ivory flowers in a collection of small glass bottles…then just line them up down the center of your table. A bonus is that they are low so you can easily have a conversation with the beloved sitting across the table. We added a few sprigs of gold baby’s breath to bring a little warmth and color to the table. Just right. And these little arrangements lasted a whole week and more without looking one bit tired. (Grocery stores only get flowers once a week, so we make sure we are there on that day, rather than buying week-old flowers. There’s a nugget for you.)
6. Place Cards from air-dry paper clay. At Brave Girl Camp, we like to use the names of our guests everywhere we can think of…including marking each girl’s place at the table with these beautiful (and surprisingly easy to make) place cards made from paper clay, a butterfly stamp, alphabet stamps, and watered down paint. Give it a final coat of mod podge after it air dries overnight. Lovely! And a fun keepsake to take home, too.
7. Canvas Chair Covers. An inexpensive canvas drop cloth makes a LOT of quick-sew chair covers. We added all kinds of thrift store trims and fringes that we had collected…all in ivory of course. The result….a crazy mix of not-that-pretty chairs now looks clean and elegant and just a little funky/bohemian. I sometimes wonder how many things we’ll find to make with canvas drop cloths. 🙂
8. Stack those Cake Stands. For our Beverage Bar, we stacked some of our collection of pretty Cake Stands to give a proper home to napkins, sugar cubes, and crispy biscotti. We set the table near a window that catches the morning sun. We strongly believe in using our pretty things every day….don’t you?
9. A vintage cash-drawer make the perfect home for K-Cups and such. After weeks of searching for something ‘just right’…we found a gorgeous, heavy old cash drawer in our favorite junk shoppe to store all of our k cups, creamers, and sweeteners in perfect style. I am in LOVE with this piece!
10. A vintage shelf with the legs trimmed off makes a perfect place to organize cups and water pitchers. We found this darling shelf in the same junk shoppe….we trimmed about 8″ off of each leg to make it just the right height for our beverage bar. We added a vintage french market basket to corral cups and lids and such…and the top shelf makes a sunny spot for water pitchers. Love it! (And yes, Jeanne Oliver, this coffee bar is dedicated to adorable YOU. You must visit it sometime. )
11. A computer desk covered with a printed matelasse quilted table cloth and a glass top. When Brave Girl Camp is not in session, Melody’s family uses this as a computer desk. During Camp this month, we converted it into the prettiest beverage bar in the land with an ivory and blue french matelasse quilt and a glass tabletop. The glass keep everything clean and tidy for the whole week, and the floor length quilt/tablecloth hides baskets of supplies. What’s in your linen closet that you could use to dress a table?
12. Hang an empty frame…some frames are so beautiful they don’t need art. We needed to block off this doorway that’s just inside the dining room entrance, so we hung a huge carved frame in front of the closed double doors and set the stage with an old chair, a bench, and a trio of flower arrangements. A little bird stands watch and a pretty lamp lights it all up in the evening. We love it so much we may never use that doorway again. 🙂
13. Welcoming wings, a heart made of found buttons, and a collection of bottles and jars to greet you. Melody created these wings (she teaches you how to make them in our Art School: Wings online class)…they spread high above the entrance to the dining room at Brave River Ranch. Last year, our gal-pal Terry made the button heart on burlap to complete this stunning 5′ wide display. A collection of vases and bottles lines the shelf above, nearly kissing the ceiling.
14. Bead garland window treatment. We strung extra large beads on a length of heavy string and hung them over the drapes…giving them just that extra bit of sparkle. Every outfit needs accessorizing, right?
My wish is that these ideas will spark your own creativity and your desire to have beautiful spaces in your own home. You can do it! Get your pretty things out of wherever you have them put away for a ‘special occasion’ and USE them. See what you can make out of unexpected materials. Seek out junk stores and thrift shops and learn to repurpose and reimagine things others have thrown away. And when possible, make room in your budget for investing in beautiful things that make your heart soar.
Coming soon….colorful decorating ideas from the amazing Art Barn!