on the store, the seasons, entertaining, decorating...

September 26, 2017 - We always enjoy hearing from our customers how much they love autumn. Everyone seems inspired to bring that harvest feeling into their home with seasonal decor. We hear quite a bit about fireplace mantles, foyers, and the kitchen or dining room table. Don't forget a welcoming wreath on the front door! What are your favorite areas of your home to decorate?

September 5, 2017 - The passing of Labor Day always seems to signal a change in our mindsets as we start looking forward to Virginia's most beautiful season. The weather likes to tease in September, offering a few cooler days in anticipation of autumn, but then just as suddenly striking us with a rather hot day. But after Labor Day, we start watching the trees with great anticipation, waiting for the slightest change in color. Although autumn's full splendor doesn't transform southeastern Virginia until late October/early November, I actually spied a tree just a day ago that was over a third muted red and gold leaves. Enjoy the last weeks of summer, the gradual reduction in humidity, and the buildup to the glory of Autumn.

August 29, 2017 - Working on the next newsletter
We are working on the next newsletter, and we have a lot coming up in September! Sneak preview:  National Peanut Day; Simon Pearce promotion; First Day of Autumn; the return of Grandmother Tabby, Prissy and Peaches from our own series, The Entertaining Tales; and more!

August 23, 2017 - New in Blue!
New dinnerware patterns will be arriving soon from Juliska and Caskata. A current trend in setting beautiful tables is a return to dinnerware with blue patterns. Enhance with natural woods and rattans for an inviting, rustic autumn look. We'll post pictures when it arrives!

August 9, 2017 - Autumn is Arriving!
Autumn is truly our favorite time of year! Her at the store, autumn goodies are starting to arrive, and we are unpacking as fast as we can. We will be shifting the store to autumn themes all during the month of August, and our first autumn newsletter will be emailed soon. Stop by and take a peak!

July 2017 - Classical Music
We play a specially honed selection of music in the store that we have created for our customers' shopping pleasure. It's a mix of classical, light piano jazz, Jackie Gleason, Henry Mancini, Herb Alpert, an occasional piece of bossa nova, and some instrumental classics, all sprinkled with a little Frank Sinatra, Ella FItzgerald, and Diana Krall. We are delighted that so many of our customers have mentioned how much they enjoy the music. But we were especially delighted to overhear two specific comments this month. On two separate occasions, we heard a young person, each between the ages of 8 and 12, comment to the adult they were with how much they liked the music in the store. I listened after each comment and realized it was classical music playing at those moments. It seems that good music really is timeless.

Renovating and Redecorating
Spring is here, and we think it is the perfect time to renovate and redecorate the store! Many of our customers have already noticed a big change, namely the disappearance of the "wall of china" at the front of the store. We have created a new Tableware Design Room in the back of the store, which now holds the dinnerware, flatware and stemware. Gifts and gourmet foods have all moved to the front of the store. We are also painting, and we started in the Tableware Design Room. Our new color is a vibrant yet deep, rich green, with ivory accents. This green makes everything look so beautiful and elegant! Be sure to stop by and see our progress. We'll keep you posted!

For Spring Flowers, Any Container Can Be A Vase
Spring is here, and the beautiful flowers of the season are starting to burst forth! Everyone loves the elegant look of fresh flowers in their home. Whether you are skilled at the art of floral arrangements, or you are a "plop them in the container" kind of person, the actual container you place your flowers in does matter. Vases come in all shapes and sizes. Select a vase that is proportionate to where you are going to place it: small corner, small vase; large sideboard, large vase. Sometimes we select flowers from our yard and garden, or delightfully receive fresh flowers, and we struggle to find the right size container for them. This is where you can be creative. Look in your cupboards. Pitchers, whether they are ceramic, glass, or pewter, all look wonderful with flowers in them. Need something small for just a few stems? Look at your glassware. Highballs, flute champagnes, pilsners, and iced teas glasses are all potential flower containers. You can use ramekins, fruit bowls, dessert glasses and sherbet champagne glasses to float individual flower blooms. And don't forget your teacups. Float a few petals in one for a soft accent. You can even get a little creative. Bundle stemmed flowers with a pretty ribbon, and lay them on a rectangular platter. Do you have a particularly large bunch of flowers, such as hydrangeas? Put them in an ice bucket! Look around your home and see what you have....any container can be a vase.

Add Music to your Holiday Meals
Music is that little extra something that can turn ordinary dining into extraordinary dining. Properly selected, dinner music adds dimension to the meal, and gently fills the empty silence in dinner conversation. Music can lift your mood, and often a favorite tune will become the topic of conversation. What constitutes appropriate dinner music depends a lot on your musical tastes. You might prefer a particular instrument, or a particular genre of music such as jazz or acoustic. I almost always have dinner music playing, even if we are just having leftovers, and I play a large variety of music, often based on the season or the holiday. Christmas music is a particular favorite of mine, as it provides an especially delightful ambiance for dinner. The secret of the good host or hostess is to select music that is truly in the background. Loud, raucous renditions of holiday favorite are lots of fun, and have their time and place. But for the dinner table, select soft versions of music: soft piano, soft guitar, light jazz, string quartet. Dinner music should be soothing, lightly uplifting, and at times you should forget that it is even playing. That's how you know you've selected correctly (and adjusted your volume correctly!) If you've never used dinner music, try it during this holiday season. Add a little music, a little candlelight... and make your holiday dining extraordinary.

Decorate for Autumn Using Color Schemes
We frequently are asked how to make autumn accessories blend in with particular color schemes. While a deep orange pumpkin with burgundy leaves would enhance some dining rooms, these rich colors would be too intense for others. This has to do with the subtle differences between tints, shades, and tones. Start by thinking about basic, clear colors. Tints are created when you add white to the basics, resulting in pastel colors. Shades are created when you add black to the basics, resulting in deep, rich colors. Tones are created when you add grey to the basics, resulting in a "toned down" version of a color. Color schemes that are most pleasing to the eye usually stay within one of these three groups (or within the group of basic colors.) In spring, Mother Nature gives us many tints, or pastel colors, so when we think of spring we think of soft, youthful coloring. But in autumn, we see deep, rich colors -- shades. The deep orange pumpkin and the burgundy leaf are both shades of their original colors, which makes them coordinate. Since many other "shades" of color can be seen in the autumn, our eyes visually see those colors as matching. So what we learn from Mother Nature is that colors that have the same intensity combine well for color schemes. For an example, look at your dining room. Your color scheme is probably tints (pastels), shades (rich colors), tones (medium colors), or basics (clear colors). When you add autumn decor to your dining room, add it in your color scheme family. If you have tints, or pastels, use off white, soft green, soft gold, and soft peach. If you have shades, or rich colors, use rust, burgundy, gold, and deep green. If you have tones, or medium colors, use greyed colors, such as medium green, heathered orange, ochre gold, and taupe. If your home is decorated in neutrals, you can often pull from any of these color schemes for your accents. It is possible to work across these color schemes, but staying within them is a good place to start. What is your color scheme?

Summer Drinks & Glassware
Summer is the time of year for beautiful, colorful drinks such as pink lemonade, freshly brewed tea, or freshly squeezed juice, and I love thinking about how these drinks will look in various glasses. Just as the shape, color and pattern on a dinner plate can enhance the look of food, the shape, color and style of glassware can affect the look of a drink. Tall, slender glasses always make drinks look sophisticated. Shorter glasses make drinks look more cozy. Glassware cut with patterns bespeaks elegance and tradition, plain glassware bespeaks simplicity and modern style. Amber glassware is warm and inviting, green glassware is soothing. We also judge glassware, like flatware, by how it fits in our hand, and the weight. Glasses come in a myriad of combinations of shapes, sizes, cut, and color, and we all have different choices when it comes to the glassware we select. Do you have a favorite glass in your cupboard, the one you reach for all the time? And what if you were to make your ideal cool, refreshing summer drink.. what kind of glass would you use? As you entertain this summer, or simply enjoy a glass of lemonade on your porch, think about your glass for a moment. Then say a toast to the cool, refreshing drinks of summer, and the beautiful glasses they are served in.

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18th Century Merchant | 3591 Forest Haven Lane, Chesapeake, Virginia 23321 | Phone: 757.483.6171  800.662.6171


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