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February – It’s the time of year, for most of you, where the romance of winter has waned (hard), the holidays are over, so what’s next? Only the fantasy of spring, of course. I’m from Oregon (rains from November to April), lived in New York for 10 years (freezing from November ’til March) so despite living in LA (I don’t want to tell you what it’s like here) I still get it. So, this post is for those of you who:

A. You are ready to fantasize about your life in brighter, warmer days.

B. You are just realizing that the reason they call it a “spring break” is because if you don’t go on vacation to somewhere that resembles “spring” soon, you are going to break down and light your puffy once-cozy sleeping bag coat on fire hoping that it provides much-needed heat. Or maybe…

C. You like easy styling hacks and entertaining tips, that involve (faux) flowers, wine, bright colors and a lot of affordable (and durable) Target pieces.

Or if you just like staring at pretty inappropriately early seasonal photos, keep scrolling – we are here for that, too. Whatever your reason, we’re gonna tackle all of the above:

Embrace the Pastels and Flowers

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It’s a simple theme and that is highly effective at getting the message across. Just when I think I’m too cool for pastels (January Emily), I remember that there is truly so much happiness provoked by blues and pinks. Color makes you happy, it just does and often when I try to go ‘chic’ and too neutral I don’t feel the same level of positive energy (but that’s just me).

Let’s also not forgot the year of Emily’s blue and blush craze because it’s at least temporarily back for spring. There is no shame in my blue and pink game, and we used these colors all over the table, including textiles, plates, flowers.

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I LOVE LOVE LOVE those melamine floral plates (yes, they are unbreakable!) and plan on snagging the small and large for backyard parties all spring and summer. Plus the contrast of the gingham patterned plates under them is almost too good.

Don’t Be Afraid of the Faux Flowers

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Here’s my advice when it comes to choosing between real and faux flowers (plants or trees) – Faux is ultimately less expensive, less mess and lasts longer – It’s like choosing engineered stone over marble. Sure, we all love the real deal but is real stone upkeep going to ruin your life? Maybe, if you don’t like vigilant upkeep. On the other hand, maybe you’ve got a green thumb and a live plant just makes you happier. Or you don’t mind spending money on, and changing out florals often. In the end, it’s a lifestyle choice.

I was hesitant before I saw these blossoms because I generally prefer real. I thought we’d style them in the background, opting for real on the table. But when no one was looking I put them on the table and we were like ‘oh shoooooot’ because they looked so pretty. So here’s my case for them:

  1. Spring blossoms are hard to come by even in March or April a lot of places. We are lucky here in LA, but I realize not everyone wants to go to the flower market (and they can be really expensive). THESE ARE SO EASY (and look so real).
  2. They were tall which added drama without taking up much space, but the glass was simple and let table conversations easily happen.
  3. They looked really real, were in a soft pretty color palette and their shape was manipulatable, becoming these really pretty sculptures on the table.

Stylists generally are against faux anything, but after the ease of faux garland and tree up at the mountain house over the holidays (and the mess and expense of real) I’m going to the dark side when it makes sense for my lifestyle.

They also come on those wreaths, which we simply hung with command strips and looked like we were professionals (fine we are, but it was easy).

Layering and Mixing Patterns is the Key to Life (and Style)

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Most of you who are here are less interested in the “fussy” and “formal,” so assuming you are aligned here is what I like to do:

Start with your tablecloth or runner. And here’s a good styling hack: we used what you might have thought is a “too small” tablecloth and put it on an angle, thus exposing the pretty wood underneath (adding texture, warmth and depth) and showing off the pretty fringe of the tablecloth. I think this is a much more fresh, casual and “daytime” way to style a cloth and is one of my “go-to moves.”

Once you have the table cloth set, layer different patterned plates in the same color palette and theme. Or you can simply layer more “spring” plates on your basic whites for something easy that makes it feel special.

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HOT TIP: Layer your napkin in between your plates and let it hang off the table. I realize that there are a million different ways to “style the napkin” but this is our favorite because it breaks up the line of the table, and doesn’t take up more room on the surface. 

For the maximum amount of texture and style, bring any pillows outside (or to your dining room table) and pepper them on the chairs. This adds so much warmth, interest, texture, pattern and says, “we are cozy, casual and fun people who aren’t afraid to rebel.” They do NOT need to match, (see below) just have them be within a cohesive color palette. And don’t be afraid to bring in a throw, too. We used square, rectangular, and round pillows and made sure that the patterns didn’t compete too much (i.e. putting the large floral near the busier stripe is good).

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Honestly, the more the merrier because nothing gets you out of the winter blues faster than brunch food, wine, happy pillows, and throws. That’s why I also love having a “seating area zone” when I have a gathering. It’s another place for your friends to relax instead of clumping in one area (usually the kitchen, am I right?). Plus it’s another great excuse to bring in more pattern and texture to your overall space. Can I also just give a shout out to those awesome lanterns?? They are so good and the dark color also helps to ground the flowery, pastel textiles.

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Ground the Pastels with Wood and Gold

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Listen, if everything were white, pink and blue on your table it might be too much (and just not necessary). Use your normal flatware (could be silver, don’t worry) and cutting boards to bring in some wood to ground all the colors and pattern (a basket of bread would work too, and be more delicious).

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Another great way to bring in some “wood warmth” is a bar cart (which also provides ample wine storage). It’s visually awesome, contrasts with the pastel party, and is crazy functional.

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As a hardcore fan of the outdoor bar cart, this one from Opalhouse is great and says spring with its woven rattan details. Also, (as I spoke about just a second ago) you want “zones” so people don’t cluster in one area. This bar cart is a perfect “zone” for your friends to pour themselves a glass of wine. SO functional.

Add a Personalized Moment That Says “I Care Even Though It Only Took 2 Minutes”

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Isn’t this “name card” so cute?? And trust me when I say it was so incredibly easy that even Birdie could do it. Except for the fact that her penmanship is terrible and not photoshoot acceptable. Also, this is a great close up of my new favorite plates. This year may be dubbed “the year Emily Henderson used floral prints on everything” because I am into them hard. But back to our little, easy DIY…

Here’s how we made the name cards:

  1. We took the dried flowers from Target (yes, at many Targets they sell these!).
  2. We wrote the name on the leaf with a white sharpie.
  3. Tied a flat and simple leaf from the yard to the flower with twine – and that’s it!
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I really want to start doing things like this more when I have small parties because nothing (style-wise) puts a smile on my face faster than thoughtful little details. Plus with this little leaf DIY, it adds an additional texture and pop of color that livens it up even more. Win-win.

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What is also a win is when your best friend’s dog comes over to crash your photoshoot because dogs are truly the best models and everyone loves dogs. Thanks, Boris.

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So there you have it. Hopefully, this has taken you out of the winter slump and catapulted you right into spring planning. Cheers to warmer days, outdoor meals and constant laughter about those freezing temperatures when your sleeping bag coat ruined any outfit you tried to put together. Target has once again nailed it with this spring line and seeing all of these amazing new products makes me a stupid amount of happy. So happy (almost) spring everyone. We are so close. xx

Fin Mark


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