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Designing Tablescapes

Stocking the Bar for Holiday Entertaining: Bar Essentials and Styling | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co

Bar Essentials and Styling for Holiday Entertaining

I’ll ring in the New Year with my favorite Prosecco. I first became aware of the Prosecco house Bisol when I visited the winery earlier this year in Valdobbiadene for my birthday in the nearby Veneto region just an hour north of Venice. When I discovered it was the house Prosecco at the Gritti palace my good taste was reconfirmed. At my house, the glasses are vintage champagne coupes – a Christmas present from my mom several years ago. They aren’t the standard flute but rather champagne bowls and rumor has it (I don’t know if the story is true) that the shape of the round coupe is inspired by Marie Antoinette’s bosom! Along with my friend and co-host Steven Moore of the Antiques Roadshow who is visiting for the New Years celebrations I’ll be serving ‘cicchetti‘, small Venetian tapas-like hors-d’oeuvres, and of course, my Paris favorite: caviar on toast with a dollop of crème fraîche; served #DivaStyle from my antique  17th-century Spanish secretary which I’ve styled as a bar cart!  

With New Year’s Eve right around the corner, the timing is perfect for Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More’s 3rd article in our series on holiday tablescapes and entertaining design inspiration! Here are Mimi’s tips on stocking the bar for holiday entertaining and how to style your bar cart with antiques – do NOT miss Mimi’s barmoire!

Felice anno nuovo! 

Stocking the Bar for Holiday Entertaining 

 Photos by Eric Gray Photography

Nothing calls for celebrations and cocktails like the holidays. There’s no better way to make spirits bright than with a well-stocked bar and a well-mixed drink! Both are a must for anyone who enjoys entertaining at home. Read on to see how you can mix and a-mingle in the jinglin’ glass… and shake and stir your way through the holidaze with ease. 

Stocking Up

Stocking the bar can be both affordable and easy. There are several essential elements that need to be included for it to be considered a success. Since many of us may have limited space and/or limited funds, choosing wisely is very important. No matter your budget, the first rule of our guide, The Art of Stocking the Bar, is to buy quality ingredients. From bourbon to bubbly, the wines and spirits you choose to stock will set the tone for your bar and the type of cocktails you can concoct. You don’t have to go top shelf, and remember price doesn’t always mean quality. You do want to cover all your beverage bases, however, so we suggest you start with the following: 

Wine & Spirits 

  • Whiskey 
  • Rum 
  • Gin 
  • Tequila 
  • Champagne or Wine 
  • Vodka 
  • Brandy 

Once you’ve taken stock of what you need to mix up some classic cocktails, like a French 75 or an Old Fashioned, add what you like to the above essentials. If it’s tequila, popular for shots and margaritas, you should definitely have a reposado and an añejo. If you’re a fan of whiskey, be sure to include a good Scotch whiskey, made from malted barley in Scotland, a bourbon, an essential American whiskey for the southern gentleman (that’s also great for sipping), and a classic rye from Canada. You may also want to add in some liqueurs like Cointreau, Campari, and both sweet and dry Vermouth, a key ingredient in iconic cocktails such as the Martini and the Manhattan.  

Whether shaken or stirred, with a twist or with a chaser, all cocktails need mixers and garnishes. Which ones you decide to stock will depend on the drinks you want to make. When displayed in small glass bottles, mixers add a splash of color to your bar and make pouring a breeze. Garnishes, on the other hand, can take a boring French Blonde from oh to oh la la. They also give you something to nibble on while sipping your drink. These are our choices for basic mixers and garnishes: 


  • Club soda 
  • Tonic water 
  • Sodas – Coke, Sprite, 7-Up 
  • Ginger Ale 
  • Juices – orange, lemon, lime, cranberry, tomato, apple, pineapple 
  • Angostura Bitters (technically not a mixer — only a dash or two to add a bit of flavor to a drink) 
  • Simple Syrup (made by dissolving equal parts water and sugar over heat — will keep for several weeks in the refrigerator) 


  • Peels and Wedges – lemon, lime, orange, cucumber, grapefruit  
  • Olives 
  • Fruits Soaked in Booze 
  • Spices – cinnamon, celery salt, clove, coriander, ginger, nutmeg, salt, pepper 
  • Veggies – pickled corn, asparagus, okra, beets, and cocktail onions; celery stalks 
  • Herbs – mint, rosemary, and basil 
  • Bacon 

Bar Tools

You have your booze, your bitters, and your bacon. When it comes to bar tools, only a few items are truly necessary to make a tasty toddy. Our favorite bar tools (and accouterments) include: 

  • Shaker, Mixing Glass, and Strainer 
  • Jigger – for all your measuring needs… try a 1 oz and 3/4 oz combo 
  • Muddler 
  • Bar Spoon – for all your stirring, mixing and layering needs 
  • Citrus Peeler and Handheld Citrus Press 
  • Ice Bucket and Tongs 

You’ll also want to add your favorite cocktail recipe books, old or new. My favorite is The Coupe by our friend Brian Hart Hoffman. Brian has a fabulous coupe collection and offers tips for collecting coupes and styling a home bar, as well as drink recipes from some of our fave bars. We also keep monogrammed bar napkins and pretty hand towels readily available for spills and quick clean ups! 


Next up… glassware. I love glasses like I do chairs — their different shapes and sizes, curves and angles. How you present your cocktails is almost as important as how you mix them. Having the proper glass for each cocktail isn’t a necessity, but it makes pouring and serving more fun. These glasses (and some red Solo cups) will see you through any soiree you might be planning:

  • Coupe – our choice for serving cocktails that are shaken or stirred 
  • Champagne Flute – tall, slender, and fun… break out the bubbly 
  • Wine – white or red, and stemless — a real crowd pleaser, especially when serving batch cocktails 
  • Shot – that tequila isn’t going to shoot itself… and they’re fun to collect 
  • Highball – for any variety of liquor and mixer that your heart desires 
  • Rocks Glass – a short tumbler for making spirits bright… with ice or neat 

Style and Location 

Last, but definitely not least, is the style and location of your bar. We all want a home bar that’s welcoming and appealing to our guests, but make sure it’s fun and easy for you. Whether you mix Margaritas from a brass bar cart, or transform an antique placard into a barmoire — like we did — you can always personalize and elevate your cocktail hour.

Try these ideas for a stylish home bar that will shake things up a bit: 

  • Turn a console into a drinks station when space is limited. A pretty tray will keep a cocktail shaker, pitcher, and liquor bottles in one place, leaving plenty of room for setting up glassware. The tray also proves handy in keeping everything looking organized as well as making things easier to move around when needed. 

This beautiful Louis XV Rococo console would make a glamorous bar and have everything looking festive and appetizing. 

  • An antique chest or buffet makes an ideal bar. Place crystal glasses and decanters filled with your favorite aged liquors on an antique brass or silver tray to make spirits really shine. Add a lamp, artwork and flowers to bring color and height. You can store napkins, tools, extra glasses, and your favorite recipe books in the drawers or cabinets below. 

Louis XV style commode shows off antique decanters and glassware perfectly with plenty of extra storage below.

Louis XVI style enfilade leaves plenty of room to arrange things so guests can easily get their drink, their napkin, a straw — whatever they need. 

  • An antique bar cabinet looks just as beautiful open as it does closed, especially when you set the bar high! That’s exactly what we did when we recently removed a built-in desk from our kitchen during a renovation and replaced it with a gorgeous Louis Philippe period placard that we had at our store. Originally a dark cherry wood, Laurent bleached it and added a lime wax before installing it. We turned the center section into a bar to store our collection of antique French ice buckets and antique and vintage glassware, and called on Santa’s elves at Barri Thompson Interiors once again to sip and style the day away just in time for the holidays! It was nothing less than magical, proving once again that mixing in antiques will always #raisethebar! 

Barmoire looks just as beautiful open as closed.

Antique and Vintage Glassware 

Antique and vintage glassware sparkles and shines.

Art and antiques always pair well together.

Vintage champagne buckets serve many purposes – we repurposed this Moët et Chandon bucket to display fresh flowers. 

Individual ice bucket from France – I collect them! 


Cheers to that! 



Cozy Tablescape for a Christmas S'mores Bar | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co

Cozy Tablescape for a Christmas S’mores Bar

For me, presentation is EVERYTHING. As a little girl growing up in Oklahoma, I never liked s’mores! I don’t know why, but their sticky, chocolatey, gooeyness never appealed to me. As an adult, I began to appreciate the luxury of one simple romantic bite – especially when roasting marshmallows over a candle flame in a mountain chalet. I use a good Nestle dark chocolate (I prefer Nestle Dessert Corse – 65% Pure Cocoa Dark Chocolate,) and French marshmallows, also called guimauves, purchased in a Paris pâtisserie, sandwiched between Lu Petit Beurre biscuits. 

Today in part 2 of our tablescapes series, Mimi is making s’mores on a mohair rug – #DivaStyle. The Christmas s’mores bar Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More shares below is simply divine – both the recipes themselves and the stunning photographs. Perfect for holiday entertaining – or any time you want a simple, elegant dessert that is dramatic, fun and easy! 

Dreaming of a White Christmas S’mores Bar 

Photos by Eric Gray Photography 

Last week, we were all merry and bright for our Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch. This week, we’re going dark(er) and decadent for a winter picnic like no other. For our second tablescape, Dreaming of a White Christmas S’mores Bar, we’re taking the art of picnicking to a whole new level. Instead of roasting chestnuts on an open fire, we’re toasting marshmallows on an open fire and making s’mores… on a mohair rug.

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Smores Maker | The Antiques Diva & Co

I don’t know about your weather, but ours has been more than a bit frightful lately. The kind of weather that makes you want to stay inside and snuggle up by the fire. If you have a small home or studio apartment, I’m going to show you (with a little help from my friends at Barri Thompson Interiors) how to get creative and host a fun holiday soiree picnic-style around your coffee table. You’ll definitely have your guests Dreaming of a White Christmas…

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Coffee Table | The Antiques Diva & Co

A Closer Look

A walk on the wild(er) side. The luxurious look and feel of the natural undyed, mid-century Turkish Angora woven blanket from Paige Albright Orientals that Barri chose to cover the homeowner’s custom-made chunky white coffee table was just what we needed to spice up our picnic, along with a spiced rum cocktail, of course. I know most of you probably don’t have a tiger-striped mohair rug laying around — but if you do… If you don’t, you definitely want to add it to your list! IT’S. THAT. DAMN. FABULOUS!

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Coffee Table | The Antiques Diva & Co

Let Them Eat Cake

Lolo French Antiques et More | smores tablescape let them eat cake | The Antiques Diva & CoS’mores are the quintessential dessert — they require no baking! You’re free to choose as few or as many ingredients as you like, leaving plenty of time to concentrate on the tablescape and signature cocktail. For this place setting, Barri mixed and matched selections from the homeowner’s collection of modern tableware. She selected a white charger that really stood out against that fabulous mohair rug and anchored the black La Chamba pottery. The salad plate was adorned with fresh cut greenery, while the place card from Target was tied to the “bowl with one handle,”  which was filled with marshmallows, tiny chocolate bits, and pieces of butterscotch. The coating of powdered sugar we added to the marshmallows (to keep them from getting sticky) added a slight shine to them, and we placed a sparkly napkin ring in the center of them for an extra pop of shimmer and shine! Because more is more, and we love shiny finishes, we chose Gold flatware by West Elm. Spiced Rum Old Fashioned cocktails were served in smoky gray rocks glasses from West Elm.

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Place Setting | The Antiques Diva & Co

Since the S’mores Maker, filled with graham crackers, white chocolate peppermint bark, and marshmallows, had to be in the center of the table, Barri used gold mercury glass votives to magically light up the space. She randomly placed them on the table creating an oh-so romantic atmosphere. Votives give off a soft, beautiful glow, and because they shine the light upward, they make everyone look good. Voila! Who can complain about that? Just for kicks, she grabbed an antique wooden saddle stool that she saw sitting in a bookcase and placed a moss nest with a glitter ornament on it. She then added some vintage sleigh bells… for a very “beautiful sight!” Often, it’s the simplest things that make the biggest impact.

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Saddle | The Antiques Diva & Co

Barri also threw various pillows from PAO around the room. Incredibly stylish and versatile, they made for perfect party seating and snuggling. The neutral colors of the pillows, as well as the butterfly chair with the taupe Mongolian sheepskin cover, also from PAO, added just the right amount of texture… and had us dreaming of this White Christmas for days!

Zebra balls, zebra pillow, and antique Kurdish rug fragment pillow all from Paige Albright Orientals

Zebra balls, zebra pillow, and antique Kurdish rug fragment pillow all from Paige Albright Orientals

Lolo French Antiques | Tablescape Smores Bar Room | The Antiques Diva & Co

Butterfly chair with Mongolian sheepskin cover backed in cowhide from Paige Albright Orientals

The best thing about s’mores is there’s no wrong way to make them. Here are a few of our favorite combinations that will have your guests asking for s’more.

Mimi’s S’mores Recipes 

Classic S’mores Recipes 

    • Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
    • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
    • Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows


    • Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
    • Oreo Cookies
    • Creamy Peanut Butter
    • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
    • Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows

Reese’s S’mores 

    • Ritz Crackers
    • Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups
    • Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows

Sweet and Salty S’mores

    • Ritz Crackers
    • Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars
    • Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moremallows
    • Cookies and Creme S’mores
    • Honey Maid Graham Cracker Squares
    • Hershey’s Cookies ‘n’ Crème Candy Bar
    • Kraft’s Jet-Puffed S’moreMallows

What’s your favorite? Let us know!

Our next tablescape is a Holly Jolly Dinner Party. Instead of toasting marshmallows on a mohair rug we’ll be toasting “A day when cheer and gladness blend, When heart meets heart, And friend meets friend.”

À Bientôt! 


How to Create Christmas Tablescapes with Antiques and Vintage Pieces pt 1 | Toma Clark Haines | The Antiques Diva & Co

How to Create Christmas Tablescapes with Antiques and Vintage Pieces pt 1

Your home is a reflection of who you are – your travels, your passions, your lifestyle. As The Antiques Diva, I always incorporate antiques and vintage pieces into my home, mixed with modern and far more practical items for everyday living! When I entertain, I enjoy using antiques I’ve collected in new ways that showcase their beauty, but at the same time demonstrate that antiques are anything but old-fashioned and stuffy. Living with antiques is an art and a passion – and I love to share my home and #DivaLifestyle with my guests, especially during the holidays.  

Today we’re starting a series of blog posts by Mimi Montgomery of Lolo French Antiques et More full of #designinspiration and tips on using antiques and vintage pieces for holiday tablescapes, bar carts and entertaining! Mimi is thinking pink! Are these tabletops not the most stunning Christmas shades of pink you’ve ever seen! I’d love to be invited to this ladies brunch! 

Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch 

Tis the season… to deck the halls, the walls, and the tables! Whether you’re celebrating all that’s merry and bright with an intimate group of friends or hosting a large family gathering on Christmas Eve, you always want to make sure your holiday tabletop shines. This year, I called on a few of my favorite friends for some sparkling inspiration. WOW! Did they ever deliver! You might have seen some sneak peeks if you follow me on Instagram or Facebook. For the next few weeks, I’ll be sharing with you the three table settings (plus a bar) that we created, along with detailed photos. So… put on your sleigh bells, pour yourself some bubbly, and fa la la la long…

Wonderful Christmastime Ladies Brunch | macarons | The Antiques Diva & Co


When it comes to setting a festive table, especially one in shades of pink, like my Wonderful Christmas Time Ladies Brunch, no one does it better than Barri Thompson Interiors. I met Barri shortly after moving to Birmingham, and we became fast friends. When Laurent and I purchased our home, there was no question who would be our designer. Barri’s love of color and her enthusiasm for design is contagious. I recently asked Barri and her assistant Melinda Musgrove (one of the floral designers on the C. Wayman Floral & Events Team for Cardi B’s baby shower before joining BTI) to design not one, but THREE, holiday tablescapes for a photoshoot. They didn’t hesitate to say yes! Photos by Eric Gray Photography

Wonderful Christmastime Ladies Brunch | Wonderful Christmastime Ladies Brunch | pink tablescape | The Antiques Diva & Co

Barri embraces the romantic appeal entertaining at home has. It’s a well thought out affair for her, where “fancy” doesn’t mean complicated. She brings her signature modern style to each tablescape, yet she has the uncanny ability to mix in vintage and antique pieces — making things that probably shouldn’t work together look enchanting. Non-traditional details help to define her Christmas tablescapes, which are made festive with fresh flowers, boughs and greenery from the yard, signature drinks, and a break from the usual red and green colors associated with Christmas.

Wonderful Christmastime Ladies Brunch | fresh flowers peonies | The Antiques Diva & Co


Wonderful Christmastime Ladies Brunch | Lolo French Antiques A Closer Look | The Antiques Diva & Co


A pink and green color scheme. The green plates used as chargers make the mix and match place settings, in various shades of pink and green, pop when placed directly on my bleached walnut table. The vintage Tulu rug and the bright colors and bold pattern on the antique Louis XVI style chairs also stand out against the wood.



Lolo French Antiques | tablescape tabletop | The Antiques Diva & Co


Lolo French Antiques Let Them Eat Cake. Tablescapes


The table is set à la française — French style, with the tines pointing down. Barri chose to use heirloom silver passed down to me from a great aunt, Pyrex chargers, a gift from my mother, beautifully detailed antique Limoges dishes, and Raynaud Festivite salad plates. As you can see, my love of antiques and vintage is not limited to furniture!



Lolo French Antiques | tablescape placesetting | The Antiques Diva & Co


Barri has such a discerning eye. She took the dainty little Limoges butter pats and placed two yummy macarons in each. What a delightful surprise! She also mixed the stemware, using Parklane by Mikasa and Manhattan Gold by Union Street. Blush pleated metallic napkins and chandelier napkin rings by Deborah Rhodes, were used to add extra shine.

Lolo French Antiques | tablescape butterpats | The Antiques Diva & Co

Melinda placed a 19th century Limoges fruit bowl that is part of my china collection in the center of the table to hold a large glitter bottle brush Christmas tree surrounded by pale pink peonies, silver brunia and gumball pink hypericum berries. She ran a glitter garland down the center of the table and filled in with the live berries and more silver brunia, adding champagne colored bottle brush trees inside glass on each side of the centerpiece for height. Blush colored rope taper candles from Greentree Home in antique silver candle holders add additional height and provide elegant light.


Lolo French Antiques.tablescape.centerpiece | bottlebrush tree | The Antiques Diva & Co


Will any of you be hosting a holiday fête this season? If so, these 5 tips will help make you the hostess with the mostest: 

1. Decide On A Color Scheme Or Theme — Think outside of the box with new color combos to create a fresh tablescape. Consider color combinations other than the traditional red and green. Dishes and glassware, as well as florals, are great ways to bring color to your table.

2. Get Creative — Take a cue from Barri and use things in unexpected ways like she did with the butter pats. We’ve been trained to set forks on the right and knives on the left, but holiday tablescapes give us the freedom to step away from tradition. Play with the napkins. Move them around until you find the perfect spot. And never feel like you have to cover a wooden table! The texture of the wood just creates another layer.

3. Make It Personal — Work with what you have. Don’t think you have to go out and buy everything new. You can’t go wrong with a mix of modern and antique tableware, or high end and low end. If you have a fabulous collection of sterling napkin rings or colored coupes, use them! Mix Limoges with Pyrex like we did! We played around with my china and crystal and swapped plates and glasses and candlesticks in and out many times before we settled on what we used.

4. Keep It Fresh — Go big on fresh flowers, garlands, and greenery. Natural elements are key to making a holiday tablescape memorable. Tuck sprigs of greenery into the tablescape or use them to adorn plates or candle holders.

5. Add Some Sparkle — Metallic finishes just draw people in. Whether its metallic threads in linens or glitter ornaments, everyone loves a little sparkle!

Lolo French Antiques | tablescape Ladies Brunch | The Antiques Diva & Co



Linens: Gold/Blush pleated metallic napkins, $40 each, by Deborah Rhodes, available at Table Matters 205/879-0125.


deborah rhodes chandelier napkin rings

Gold chandelier spray napkin rings, $30 each, by Deborah Rhodes, available at Table Matters 205/879-0125

rope blush candles

Rope blush candles $28/pair, by Greentree Home, available at Table Matters 205/879-0125

*All other table accessories except sterling candlesticks are from Table Matters.

Don’t miss our next tablescape, Dreaming of a White Christmas. We’re roasting marshmallows and making s’mores… on a mohair rug.

A Bientôt!


Creating the Perfect Tablescape with Antiques

Dear Diva Readers,

It’s no secret that I love to decorate my home with antiques. Since my home caught fire a couple years ago and I lost most of my material possessions in the flames, I’ve been scouting across Europe creating new collections, seeking accessories and staple pieces to complete my new flat. But now that I have my main pieces in place, that doesn’t mean that the decorating is over.  I, like many design enthusiasts, tend to get bored with stagnant interiors that don’t change or evolve every so often. (heck, every day!)  And while buying all new furniture would be a huge budget buster – not to mention a hassle – creating fresh tablescapes on a regular basis is a fun way to shake things up a bit.  (Confession… soon as I wrote “shake” I began singing Taylor Swift’s song Shake it Off!)

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

When I say tablescape I’m not just talking about the dining table. You can design table arrangements on console, coffee, and side tables. Even other flat surfaces like shelves, mantels, and window ledges can be used to artfully display objects. Here are some easy tips to get you started on creating beautiful vignettes using antiques in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Keep it cohesive, but never boring. As with any decorating project, it’s important to know your personal style and the overall “look” you’re going for. For instance if you have a mid-century style home and theme, you probably won’t be adding heavily carved victorian pieces to your room. The same rule applies with tablescapes. Keep the style consistent with the rest of your decor and try to complement other elements in your home.

Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes,

In order to keep it from feeling boring, mix up the heights of objects. Use books to stack things on top of and think about layering pieces of art in front of each other. I love the look of using small tabletop easels to display artwork or even photographs.

Shelfie, Decorating with Antiques, Designing Tablescapes, Artful Vignettes, The Antiques Diva, Berlin Apartment, Toma Clark Haines

Add natural elements to your vignettes as well. Mixing materials such as shell, horn, flowers, and geodes with antiques really sets off the patina of the older items. Also using interesting pieces is important. That’s what’s great about antiques— they are NOT being sold mass-produced at every decor store which means when you decorate with antiques you’re giving your home a uniquely you spin!

Whether you hunt for accessories at antique shops, flea markets, or tag sales, think about what other items you can pair them with to create visually interesting tablescapes throughout your house. And remember, the same as when it comes to dating… Opposites Attract!

Happy Decorating,

The Antiques Diva® 

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