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Our friends over at Food Network are throwing a fantastic Thanksgiving party called The Communal Table on their blog FN Dish today. The idea is that FN Dish is providing the turkey, and they asked that the rest of the food community (including you!) bring side dishes and desserts. We at Design Happens were honored when we were asked to “set the table” for the event.

Without a doubt Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. A day dedicated to being thankful for the good things in your life, eating delicious food with your loved ones and no pressure of buying gifts? Genius! Personally, I like a homey holiday with an ultra-relaxed vibe, a handmade feel and absolutely no worries about getting gravy on the “good” linens. With that in mind, a little bit of inspiration from the October color of the month, and a dash of the whimsy from Constance the trailer, I created this Very Vintage Thanksgiving mood board:

thanksgiving vintage table


To achieve this cozy look I chose a mix of rough-hewn items, some real vintage items, and new products that have a warm and friendly feel. Ceramics, bold vintage colors (like teal, red and orange), thick glass and beautiful faux-mercury tie together a farmhouse table that seems as if it could’ve been set in the 1940s. I kept my own grandmother—who raised a family through the 40s—in mind when choosing the individual salt-and-pepper shakers (some of her favorites table accessories), the charming turkey gravy boat and the vintage floral table runner. The playful pumpkin candles mixed on the table with wildflowers in a mason jars are all the decoration the table needs leaving room for the real centerpiece of the day: the bird.

How about you? How do you set your table for Thanksgiving? Do you pull out your best china for this special day? Are you low key and food-centric? Tell us in the comments!

Setting the table above [clockwise from upper left]: Personal salt-and-pepper shakers, Etsy; ”Give Thanks” banner,; chevron salad plates, Etsy; jadeite dinner plate, Fishs Eddy; turkey gravy boat, Williams Sonoma; silverware, BHLDN; pumpkin candles, Greenhouse Design Studio; faux-mercury turkey platter, Etsy; animal place card holders, BHLDN; mason jar flowers, Haystack Needle; cloth napkins, Etsy; wine goblet, Fishs Eddy; turquoise farm table, European Paint Finishes; table runner, Vintage in Vogue; dining chairs, Room & Board; background pattern, Flavor Paper wallpaper. See all of these items on my Pinterest as well as a couple more that didn’t make it onto this board. 



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Can you believe it’s November? Every year I psych myself up to participate in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for the initiated, but even though I start with the best of intentions, the month always gets away from me. I don’t blame it on my talent or general stick-to-itivness, of course. Clearly the problem is my lack of a functional writing space. A room of one’s own, if you will. Or at least a desk of one’s own. Like this breathtaking vintage leather top desk from 1stdibs.

green vintage desk

This classy-yet-sassy little number is a French piece from the 1970s that still has the original leather top and brass detail. It’s been lacquered a delicious kelly green, and is straight from a Beverly Hills estate. Quite a history, no? If this desk could talk! I’m certain the desk’s interesting pedigree would inspire me to write an equally interesting novel while sitting at it. Are you participating in NaNoWriMo? Tell me in the comments! (Maybe we’ll all find writing buddies there.)

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As you know, teal is our October Color of the Month. Many of you agreed it is the perfect color for fall, and I have to say, I happily agree. I was all about mustard-yellow going into October, but I think I’ve found a new favorite color. My nails are painted a glossy shade of teal. I recently picked up a deep teal dress. And now I think I can finally say goodbye to summer without too much separation anxiety, all thanks to my new best friend. The hue instantly struck a vintage chord in my mind. Retro teal electrics, hand-blown glass and mid-century modern kitchen wares. Check out some of my favorite vintage teal finds.

Entertaining with the Color of the Month: Let’s Talk Teal

HGTV Color of the Month October Teal Colors Etsy Accessories Teal Trending Color HGTV Design Blog Design HappensAll from ETSY: 1. Vintage Avon Fish Cologne Bottle :: FunVintageLiving  2. Vintage Swingline Stapler :: WiseApple  3. Vintage Boston Champion Pencil Sharpener :: swagJUICE  4. Large Samsonite Biscayne Luggage :: theoldgoat  5. Retro Motorola Electric Clock :: BeatriceinBlue  6. Cathrinehom White and Teal Lotus Cooking Pan :: MidModMomStore  7. Nelson McCoy Vase :: alamodern  8. Mid-Century Modern Chair :: SocietyInc  9. Vintage China Dish :: vintagebitsandpieces  10. Vintage Ceramic Plates :: thecupcakekid

In what form would you most likely use teal in your home? Slathered across your walls in a shade from your favorite paint collection? In bold accents? A dose of vintage fun?

Tell us in the comments below.

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Now that the main living areas of our home are nearly complete, it’s time to accessorize, accessorize, accessorize! In general, I wait to purchase the bulk of my home accessories until I’ve lived in a space for a few months. After all, how will I know where to settle in to read my favorite book, or how I prefer to stash my keys?

Indeed, the power of home accessories are not to be underestimated, and I’ve rounded up some goodies below that I’ve had my eyes on for longer than I care to admit. Luckily, I’ve acquired a few and am well on my way to a fully accessorized home!:

Shopping- Erin Loechner

My dreamy accessories wish list.

My style hasn’t changed a bit since the beginning of our renovation, and I’m still craving functional pieces that marry industrial, vintage and modern Scandinavian touches. In other words, metal, wood and black/white textiles are always high on my wish list:

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Maybe it’s because I was born at Fort Benning in Georgia while my dad was serving in the Army. Or maybe it’s because I used to love to watch classic war movies like Battleground and Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo with my grandfather. Whatever the reason, I find recruitment, production and home front posters from World War I and II visually compelling and emotionally stirring. I’m slowly building a collection of originals, and I have framed some to use as thought provoking statement art in my home. So this Armed Forces Day, I’m sharing with you six of my favorites I’ve found for sale. And want to let you know you can download a 2011 “United in Strength” Armed Forces Day poster from the White House website.

Armed Forces Day Vintage PosterArmy Day Poster 1939 :: La Belle Epoque

This Army Day poster by soldier and artist Tom B. Woodburn is from 1939. Prior to 1949, the five U.S. military branches celebrated separate observance days (and still do within their respective services). It wasn’t until the Army, Coast Guard, Navy, Marines and Air Force were united under the Department of Defense that Armed Forces Day was established by President Harry Truman to honor the work of all military services on the third Saturday of May each year.

More Vintage Posters

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The New York Times recently featured a studio apartment in a building  in Hollywood, CA that is remarkably accepting of renters renovating their spaces.

vintage studio lights

Ethan Pines for The New York Times

Tenant Cynthia Loebe refinished or repurposed most of her apartment furnishings. My favorite upcycled items are the vintage studio lights that Loebe had rewired and hung for dining area lighting. This clever echoing of her star-studded location is divine.

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The whole “new year, new you” philosophy made a huge impact on me this year. I disbanded my nasty procrastination habit and filed my taxes three months early. Three months! While I safely stored my refund in an untouchable savings account (compulsive shopping will not take over this time!), I can’t help daydreaming about a tax return wish list full of designer pieces from 1stdibs I would love to call my own. My wish list total = $17,650 — eek! My refund from the IRS — not even close to that.

Tax Day 1st Dibs Designs

If you could splurge on anything, what would it be? Let us know, and in the meantime, feel free to lust over my wish list. And don’t forget to file your taxes. Monday’s the deadline!


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The benefit of having access to great farmer’s markets here in the city is getting great milk. The downside – a large collection of milk bottles at my house. We usually return the bottles, but sometimes they collect on my kitchen windowsill and I fantasize about creative ways to repurpose them.

alyssa ettinger milk bottles

These vintage glass milk bottles by Alyssa Ettinger are so springy and pleasant in chalky white porcelain. They’re just right for brightly colored flowers and would work in just about any space. Makes me think I should hang on to a couple of those milk bottles of mine.

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