Elegant & Eco-Friendly Holiday Table Decor

Christmas and New Year’s Eve are just around the corner. If you’re having guests over, and ready to stray from the typical poinsettia you might like my elegant and organic tablescape idea! It’s easy to create a show-stopping table setting with items you have on hand, by simply adding greenery and fruit into the mix.

The added bonus of table decor like this (or the endless variations possible) it that everything is reusable and organic – no paper goods or silly plastic decorations to throw away. My florist friend Kate of Fleur Du Jour first inspired this idea when we discussed the idea of creating a table runner out of greenery. This was the inspiration photo:

image via wearethetempted.com

image via wearethetempted.com

Here’s what you’ll need:

  • Dishware – dinner plate and salad plate
  • Silverware
  • Stemmed glassware
  • Cloth napkins
  • Greenery (about 25 stems – I ordered mine through a local florist)
  • Fruit (1 per/person)
  • Candle Pillars / candles
holiday table decor items

A few items on my table included this Nambe Dinnerware in Butterfly Marble Swirl – smoke color (purchased at Macys), Convivial Production Candle Pillars, and Napkins from Dot & Army ( both found on Etsy).

Step 1: Assess the length of your table and how much greenery you’ll need to create a runner the length of your table out of the branches (20 – 30 stems should be plenty). I used a combination of olive branches, blueberry cedar, and rosemary. You can use whatever is in your backyard! Pine, cedar, and holly berries would be a classic holiday combination.

herbs used for table decor

Step 2: Place your candleholders along the length of your table. Arrange the branches in an organic way, creating a table runner out of the greenery. Try to mix and layer the different branches.

how to layer table greenery

Step 3: Begin to set the table layering plates and napkins. Make sure your place settings are correct! The fork goes on the left and the knife, spoon, and wine glass on the right.

Step 4: Add a piece of fruit to everyone’s plate. I used a small orange (playing off the tradition a Christmas orange), but you could choose pears, persimmons, pomegranates, or even figs – just use the same item on each plate to bring cohesion to the table. You could also add place cards at this stage if you choose.

greenery as table runnerhow to decorate a organic holiday table table with greenery runner


Step 5: Light your candles, turn down the lights, and wait for guests to ooh and aah over your gorgeous table. You can even let guests take a branch or two as a party favor – especially if they are usable herbs like rosemary!

Hope you give this one or a similar variation a try! Let me know what your favorite greens and fruits turned out to be.

XO – Claire

Oak Park Living Room Transformation

Woohoo! I have my first before and after project to share, and this room was a dream to decorate. This living room was a total blank slate, and my clients were very trusting of my recommendations once we talked through the color scheme and styles. Below are some before photos (old furniture was all donated, there was not much but a rug and couch).

Sarah and Steve had moved into a gorgeous prairie style Oak Park residence (designed by E.E. Roberts) about two years ago. They have two young girls, so decorating the formal living room was not really a priority upon moving in, but with the holidays quickly approaching they were ready to get the space updated and ready for family and friends!



The room had great bones. Lots of symmetry and beautiful wood to work with. The fireplace and radiator covers were looking a tad tired, but after some debate we decide to leave the historic elements of the home untouched. Main considerations for the decor included the following:

  • family friendly space for playing games and reading
  • contemporary/modern feel that still blends with more traditional aspects of the house
  • nod to the industrial history of Chicago
  • rustic wood and steel elements
  • leaving the wall opposite the fireplace empty for a future piano!

With these creative considerations in mind here are some of the design decisions I made:

  • darker walls to ground the room and create a masculine/modern feel
  • accents of pecan colored wood and ivory velvet drapery help balance the dark wall color
  • steel/industrial accents in the lighting and furniture
  • coffee table with ample storage for game night
  • comfortable and affordable furniture for the growing family
  • we used a pop of color in the chairs, which the easiest item to re-cover if you grow bored with the fabric over time
  • black metal picture wall/gallery to showcase family photos in a contemporary way (black and white photography adds to the modern feel)

Here are a few after shots. You can see the full portfolio here.

Claire Interior Shoot-Web-JTP_3171Claire Interior Shoot-Web-JTP_3184modern living roomClaire Interior Shoot-Web-JTP_3174 modern living room

Here’s the lovely review Sarah and Steve wrote about working with Centered By Design. I think we are going to do their family room next!

“Claire was amazing to work with. She has a great sense of style and took us through the entire process of turning a living room that had sat empty for two years to a space that we now use all the time. We were initially struggling to balance the character of our century-old home and our more modern tastes. Claire helped us to first clarify our overall design aesthetic and vision for the project, before working with us on turning that vision into a reality. Her work encompassed all aspects of the project; from setting a budget to picking fabrics and colors, as well as styling the finished project. Claire is very easy to work with. She balanced keeping us focused on the project, while respecting our need for time to reflect on certain key decisions. Claire was also very respectful of our busy schedules and, just as importantly, our budget. The final result is a space that reflects our personal style and that we love to spend time in with our family and friends.” Sarah & Steve – Oak Park

XO, Claire

Branding Your Small Business

December 1, 2014 Tips + Resources 1 Comment

Hello, I’m so excited to welcome you to the Centered By Design blog! I’ve spent the past six months developing my personal brand and business. I thought a fitting first post would be to explain and demystify this process. I think anyone can brand themselves or their small business idea. I’d love to share with you the insights I’ve learned during this process.

I am certainly not a branding expert, but I have a work history in marketing that includes brand management for notable organizations with strong brands, such as Habitat for Humanity and REI. I’m fascinated by the idea that our typography, color choices, tone, and messaging can have such an impact on how people perceive and respond to our brands.

Here is a mood board sample, which I created to help communicate the “feel” of my brand to the graphic designer creating my logo. I think whether digital or analog, getting your ideas and inspiration into a cohesive visual statement is important.

Step 1: List five adjectives that will help you define the tone of your brand. Then search for imagery in magazines, on Pinterest, or the web and create your mood board. My adjectives were Artistic, Organic, Down-to-Earth, Clean and Calming. I added my final logo into the board after the fact – but the brilliant part is that it looks like it was a part of the board all along! Arriving at a final design is not easy. It took three design rounds to get the logo right. See below for an earlier iteration (there were at least 20!). This is why it’s so important to define your tone. You can’t get side tracked only by what you respond to visually. You need to make sure that what you are creating represents what you are saying your brand represents. It sounds easy, but it’s kind of hard!

  • Side note on creating a mood board. Don’t be intimated by fancy ones, just ripping pictures out from a magazine or creating a new Pinterest board is perfect! If you want to learn exactly how I did this board in Photoshop, you can take a Skillshare class. It was a little bit complicated at first, but it’s a skill I’m glad to have.
mood board branding template

Mood boards are a quick way to visually communicate!

Screen Shot 2014-11-07 at 4.56.31 PM

Here’s an earlier logo iteration. I loved the hexagon and font, but it did not aline as well with my brand message. It was deemed to bold and sharp.

Step 2: I encourage you to expand on your brand identity by writing a Creative Brief. This is simply a one-page document that further expounds on aspects of your brand. Sometimes it helps to write in the third person. Imagine you were trying to explain the brand/business to someone you’ve never met. You could include categories such as your background, company objective, target audience, market competitors, distinguishing characteristics, and other creative considerations. This information will not only help your graphic designer, but it can serve as a reminder to help you stay consistent/connected with your brand. Here are some examples from my brief:

  • Distinguishing Characteristics:

    • Background in the arts means Claire has an appreciation for handmade and artisan touches.

    • Claire is a unique combination of highly organized, entrepreneurial, creative, collaborator, down-to-earth, and calming presence.

  • Creative Considerations:

    • The color wheel is very inspirational to Claire, and the circle could also represent being “centered” to a client. Claire believes good design can make you feel more centered, more comfortable in your space, and happy too! Would be great for the graphic designer to explore ways to work the color wheel into the logo. Claire likes the painterly quality of the image she submitted.

Step 3: Get a few select outside opinions. When you are really close and connected to something it’s hard to be objective! Talk to a few people you trust, preferably people with graphic design or branding experience to see if what you’re saying resonates with them. Look for resources online, at your local community college, or entrepreneurial hub for classes or presentations to aid you in the branding process.

Okay – I hope this gets you started in the right direction! What do you think? Anything that I’m missing? Any branding experts out there who’ve got more tips?

Thanks for reading! I’m so excited my first official blog post is DONE.

XO, Claire 

How to Refurbish a Vintage Clock

DIY Project – Repurposing a George Nelson inspired clock in six easy steps. I originally wrote this post for KRRB.com  they are a great online resource for vintage furniture and decor. Kind of like a craigslist, but primarily for home stuff!

Clocks are pretty underrated in the realm of home décor. You never hear anyone mention how much they need a clock. But next time you see a working vintage clock – think twice, that baby may have some serious potential on your wall! Mid-century modern décor is quite on trend at the moment (if you haven’t noticed you might be living under a rock). This is excellent news, because clocks from that era are in abundance at vintage shops, grandparent’s basements, and sites like Krrb. If you see a clock with lines you love, snatch it up, and then proceed to refurbish it in these six easy steps.

Tools/supplies needed:

  • clock
  • screwdriver (phillips and flathead)
  • spray paint
  • sand paper

Step 1: Disassemble the clock. On the back of this clock, there were a few long machine screws holding everything together. After removing these, it was just a matter of prying apart all the various pieces that needed painting/repair.

Step 2: It’s a good idea to snap a picture with the case open so you remember how everything fits together.

Step 3: Separate the clock face and glass from everything else and thoroughly clean the glass, and dust inside of clock. Bend any of the metal arms back to true.

Step 4: Gather your spray paint, sand paper, and head outside!

mid-century vintage clock

Step 5: Give the clock a light sanding to chip away any old paint or flaking metal. This step will help the spray paint adhere better too.

Step 6: The clock mechanism itself was working and the electrical cord was in fine shape on this project. The cord could have been replaced, but there was no need. It was dirty, though, so I took time to paint the visible section with the same paint from the wall it was to be mounted on. An easy fix to make the cord blend into the wall.

mid-century vintage clock

DONE – Reassemble and hang that baby up!

XO, Claire