Tastemaker Tuesday – Jennifer Boles

We’re so excited to share this month’s Tastemaker feature for the blog for steve mckenzie’s – Jennifer Boles, who, for many of you may need to introduction… She’s the classic design maven behind the wildly popular blog, “The Peak of Chic“, and has also authored two fabulous books, House Beautiful Fabrics for Your Home and In with the Old: Classic Decor from A to ZPlease join us in welcoming, Jennifer Boles, as the latest Tastemaker for steve mckenzie’s:

Jennifer Boles

Jennifer Boles was born and raised in Atlanta, GA. Upon obtaining her bachelor’s degree in history from University of the South (Sewanee, TN), Jennifer returned to Atlanta to pursue a career in business and finance. After ten years spent in the business sector, Jennifer decided to pursue her passion for interior design and the decorative arts. With an intense interest in design history and a love of writing, Jennifer started her design blog “The Peak of Chic” in the Fall of 2006. Her website-read by design devotees from around the world- focuses on design trends, historical homes, history of design, and all things design related.  Recently named “blogosphere darling” by Departures magazine, Jennifer has been featured in numerous publications including The New York Times, Town & Country, Elle Décor, and Wall Street Journal.  In 2007, Jennifer became a contributing editor to House Beautiful, and more recently, she was named contributing editor to Veranda. When she’s not writing, reading, or thinking about design, Jennifer spends her time traveling, collecting antique and vintage ceramics, and buying far too many books.

1. Three words that describe your aesthetic? 

Classic; Confident; Personal

2. Would you please share a little about your favorite space/project to date? 

My favorite space is my own home because it’s furnished with things I love.

Door by Dorothy Draper

3. What’s the source(s) of your inspiration?

The work of design legends such as Dorothy Draper, Albert Hadley, and Syrie Maugham.

4. Name three people (alive or dead) you’d invite to your dream dinner party…

Cole Porter; Billy Baldwin; Bobby Short

Sitting room by Syrie Maugham

5. A piece of/type of furniture you couldn’t live without?

A clean-lined sofa.

6. Do you follow a particular set of rules when mixing textures, finishes, etc. – how do they work for you?

Variety in texture and finish, for example, adds interest to a room.  That being said, you also need balance.

7. Trending… What is something you are currently “into” and something you are “over?” 

Into: Subtlety.  It’s a lost art, one which I hope people rediscover.

I’m over the kitchen-sink approach to decorating.  You can’t just throw a random mix of styles and pieces into a room and expect the room to look pulled-together.

8. How does artwork fit into your designs?

It’s important, but it has to reflect the taste and interest of the homeowner, not the designer.

9. What would be the one thing you would have if you were stranded on a deserted island?

My dog, Alfie.

10. Please share a piece of advice you’d offer to someone looking to break into the interior design industry. 

Learn about the history of design.  You’ll never be at a loss for inspiration if you know about design history and those designers who influenced the art of decorating.

We so appreciate that last bit – about the history of design. This is a passion of both Steve and Jill’s and something they look to often when working with clients to create new designs.

A BIG shout out to the gracious Ms Boles for agreeing to participate in our Tastemaker Tuesday blog feature, she’s such a peach, and if you aren’t already an avid follower, we encourage you to add “The Peak of Chic” to your list of blogs to read – it is sure to become an instant favorite!

Place Settings for Every Thanksgiving Table

No matter how you celebrate Thanksgiving, there’s a good chance there’s a great meal involved… And a great meal deserves a great place setting. After all, they do say, you eat with your eyes first!

Now, we’re not necessarily talking about a super-formal setting, with eight pieces of flatware that you have to be an etiquette expert to know how to use, we’re suggesting you simply think about your meal and the style gathering you’re hosting, and create a place setting you and your loved ones will be comfortable with.

To help with this, we’ve created three different place settings to share as examples – one for a casual buffet style Thanksgiving dinner, another for a nicer, family style feast, and the final one, which lends itself to a more formal meal:

Buffet Style Thanksgiving Place Setting

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This place setting is ideal for a casual, buffet-style meal and features acrylic Mario Luca Guisti drink-ware – perfect for those more clumsy relatives; 🙂 no broken crystal here! A Match pewter charger and R Wood plate, in our exclusive Red Clay colorway, adds a festive touch. And that fabulous Road salad plate is only $10! To mix it up, and bring in a fun, seasonal element, we’ve added a pair of vintage turkey salt and pepper shakers from Steve and Jill’s personal turkey collection (pretty cute, right?!?). The TAG place mat and napkin will transition beautifully to Christmas – we love double duty items like these!

Family Style Thanksgiving Feast Table Setting

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If you’re planning a meal that’s more family style in nature, you can get a bit more detail-oriented with this place setting, as everything’s done at the table, i.e. your family and friends won’t be milling around filling their plates and glasses. This setting features a Match Pewter charger, salad, bread plate, and glasses, which all add a bit of sparkle to your table. The plate and coffee cup are by Royal Crown Derby Mikado, in their cantaloupe colorway, which brings in some needed warmth to the overall look. The placemat is a round shagreen acrylic placemat, which makes for easy care – something we can all use more of around the holidays! Finally, the napkin is Libeco linen. Here, we’ve added a special touch of whimsy with another Vintage turkey item from the McKenzie’s collection, and “planted” a faux orchid in it to bring some life and greenery to the table.

A Fabulously Formal Thanksgiving Table Setting

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Here, we’re really setting the stage for a spectacular meal with a place setting that will be equally as fantastic. We’re using Julie Wear China, inspired by their home state of Kentucky; the salad plate is from their Bluegrass line and the dinner plate and charger are part of the Cheval collection. Agate coasters from Rab Lab make the perfect perch for some special glassware. Even with our most formal setting, we’ve taken the opportunity to introduce one of those vintage turkeys Jill and Steve love so much, this one bringing out the deep tones in this beautiful china. To help set off the darker brown of the linen napkin and place setting, we opted to go with a tan, round acrylic place mat (who says fancy dinner cleanup can’t be made easier?!?).

And there you have it, a place setting for each type of Thanksgiving meal!

If you’re looking for more inspiration for your Thanksgiving table, the folks at Veranda magazine published an article a while back all about setting the perfect table. You can find it here. It offers an organized way to consider the overall tablescape, and which elements make the most impact.

Finally, we’re in the midst of finalizing our own holiday menu, but wanted to share a delicious sounding recipe for a stuffed mushroom appetizer, from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa’s Thanksgiving 2.0 episode – click here for the goods.


YUM – we can’t wait to taste those! Let us know which new recipes you’ll be trying this year.

We hope these place setting ideas inspire you to create something beautiful for your loved ones this year – and help to make your meal even more special… And from our steve mckenzie’s family to yours, happy Thanksgiving everyone!