Kelly Christakos Stivers


fall pretties for the home and table

This weekend we finally saw a little relief from 90 degree temps and, I must say, it was so nice to be able to play outside without the bugs eating us alive and then snuggle under cozy throw blankets and watch movies as a family.  Time to officially say goodbye to summer as we close our pool and I try really, really hard not to grab my Christmas lights out of storage!  Here are a few pretties I'm loving lately - lots of texture, brass, bamboo, tortoise and a little animal print for good measure to cozy up the house for the change in the season:

I've been OBSESSED with these antelope pillows for the chairs in my living room, but their price tag makes me choke.  I found some much more affordable options on Etsy and over at Plantation

I love the simplicity and size of this round mirror from Target

These Wilton trays from Serena and Lily are a great way to add some texture to a coffee or dining table.

These crystal low ball glasses are heavy and substantial enough for the hubby's whiskey but chic enough for my cocktail tray.

I love a myrtle topiary, even if I have a bad habit of murdering them shortly after spending a small fortune on them. Still on the hunt for the perfect fake.

This brown sugar and bourbon candle is HEAVEN.

Dial up the cozy factor with this fabulous pom pom throw.

I love the entire Dauville line, but this sleek, gold rimmed pitcher is on my radar for Thanksgiving lately.

I'm thinking my kitchen counter needs this adorable framed fox print from High Street Market.

The only thing I love more than blue and white everything is tortoise everything.  This umbrella holder from Ballard Designs is killing me softly.

Thinking of updating some of my favorite family photos with these chic bamboo picture frames.

Love the shape and petite size of this gold hexagon platter - it would look amazing for serving drinks or displaying my favorite bottles of perfume.

Still obsessed with this brass fox door knocker.

Looking forward to this read, as much for the fact that I love everything at Food 52 as for my need to simplify my weekly meal plan.

What are you loving lately?


get the look: meg ryan's new york kitchen

Did anyone else gasp when they saw Meg Ryan's kitchen in her New York City loft in the latest Architectural Digest?  I love me an all-white kitchen, but a black and white kitchen with warm wood accents is right up my alley, as it's what I tried to create in my own home!  There are so many great elements to this space that make it feel clean, classic and super chic, like the to-the-ceiling subway tile and built-in shelving in the eating area, the vintage lighting and the antique dining table and Windsor chairs, but there's also a few unexpected touches that keep it light and modern, like the marble backsplash and matching open shelves.  I can't tell you how many times I've flipped back through it just to see it all again and again.   I also love how she added photographs to personalize an otherwise utilitarian space.  The stainless steel double doors add a fun touch and a pop of interest.  I only wish they would have shown the kitchen in its entirety because you can see a corner of what appears to be a fabulous range hood peeking out! 

Here are a few picks that I think can help create a similar look without resorting to replacing cabinetry with open shelving or installing floor-to-ceiling built-ins:

Pendant light / Bread board / Number art / French wine glass / Taper candle holders / Glass cloche

Pitcher / Marble and brass serving tray / Candle / Blackburn vase / Windsor Chair

Dining table / Basket

Happy Hump Day!


diy: mini pumpkin taper candle holders

Despite being more of a spring and summer girl, fall in the south is my favorite time of year to entertain.  There's no pollen or mosquitos so you can actually enjoy the cooler temps and beautiful evenings dining alfresco or even just sipping a cocktail or a cup of coffee on the porch under a cozy throw blanket (my fave).  Fall is also the one time of the year where I give myself carte blanche to go crazy with the slightly over-the-top tablescapes - pumpkins, bittersweet, wicker demijohns, lanterns, even foliage from my yard are some of my favorite ways to add a touch of the change in season (especially since I don't really decorate for it anywhere else in my house). 

A few years ago, I made some taper candle holders out of mini pumpkins and they're one of my favorite DIY's to date!  I originally posted the step-by-step tutorial here but I thought since the weather was finally feeling fall-ish right now in the south, it was the perfect time to re-post it for anyone who missed it the first time around!  This is one of the quickest and easiest DIY's - the most time consuming part is waiting for the paint to dry, so if do-it-yourself projects tend to intimidate you, this is definitely an easy one to try!

What you'll need:

mini pumpkins

cordless drill

3/4 inch spade drill bit (I used this one)

spray paint

Step 1: if there are any stems on the pumpkins, remove them with wire cutters.  Place your drill bit in the middle of the top of the pumpkin and, applying light pressure, drill slowly until about a half inch down into the pumpkin.  DO NOT PRESS HARD ON THE DRILL - it will crack your pumpkin!  Also, make sure the pumpkin is on the floor, not in your hand, when drilling:

Step 2:  Using a butter knife, scrape out the insides of the pumpkin and then spray them with your spray paint. 

Once dry, insert your taper candles and enjoy!  SO easy!

Hope everyone is off to a great start this Monday!


my favorite entertaining books

We're back from our whirlwind road trip to Newport for the wedding of the centurey and I've been so excited to get back to blogging!  Amidst the bags to be unpacked and the mountain of laundry to be tackled, I've also got to plan a menu and table setting for a small get together this weekend for some good friends, but, of course, the latter is all I can think about right now!

I think the only thing I love more than playing hostess is searching for great entertaining ideas and inspiration!  Pinterest and, of course, Instagram, are neverending sources of gorgeous images and tutorials but my favorite way to brainstorm new entertaining ideas, whether it be for a small and intimate dinner or an over-the-top birthday bash, is through books.  For me, nothing can compare to flipping through page after page of beautiful images, dog earing my favorites and then pouring over how I could put my own spin on something particularly inspiring and timeless.  There are so many beautiful entertaining books out there, but there is particular handful I turn to time and time again.  Here are a few of my favorites:

1.  Barefoot Contessa Parties - I love everything about Ina Garten - her recipes, her show, her barn, her gardens...the woman is the epitome of rustic, earthy and chic table settings and meal plans that are so easy to execute and that never fail to impress!

2.  A Boat, A Whale and A Walrus - While this is more of a cookbook that is split up into seasons, it's also chock full of personal stories, menus and favorite recipes of author, chef and restauranteur Renee Erickson.  The images are beautifully simple and the settings are always casual, which I love.  This is one of my favorite books to gift, as well as reference!

3.  Camille Styles Entertaining - Organized by seasons with inspiring ideas and tips for everything from flower arrangements, favors, parties, desserts and signature cocktail recipes, this has become one of my go-to's when I'm really trying to get creative or when I really want to impress guests (I especially loved her mini bottles of tequila, paired with a key lime in a tiny burlap bag as favors for a Mexican fiesta!)

4.  Hamptons Entertaining - I'm obsessed with all things Hamptons, so it was only natural that I would love this tome, as well.  Author Annie Falk features 18 parties with recipes, tips for table settings, alcohol pairings and menu ideas but you also get little peeks of the gorgeous Hamptons estates and gardens as well!

5.  Great Parties: Recipes, menus and ideas for perfect gatherings: the best of Martha Stewart Living - My aunt gave me a copy of this for my birthday years ago and practically every page is dog eared!  Not only are the images gorgeous, but there are step-by-step instructions for hosting the perfect party, from small and intimate to grand and elegant. 

6.  Pret-a-Party: Great Ieas for Good Times and Creative Entertaining - If you're looking for some fun, fresh and modern entertaining ideas, this is definitely for you.  While a pig roast on a rooftop garden may not be practical for many of us, author and fashion designer Lela Rose's tips on decorating, table settings and menu plans are spot on and, with a couple trips to Hobby Lobby or Michael's, easy to replicate!

What are some of your favorite entertaining books?  I'm always looking to add to my collection!


the latest swoon worthy hamptons getaway by steven gambrel

Easing back into blogging slowly but surely, and I thought it was the perfect chance to share design genius Steven Gambrel's  latest project, a weekend home in Bridgehampton, which was featured in last month's Architectural Digest.  It's no secret I'm slightly obsessed with designer Steven Gambrel's impeccable style; everything he touches is absolute perfection; I don't think there's a single home he's designed that I haven't loved (his Captain Overton house and his own Sag Harbor Captain's Cottage are two of my all-time favorite home tours EVER) and while I tend to gravitate to homes on a much smaller scale, I still find this gargantuan family home super cozy and intimate - the perfect place for a dinner party, wine with friends or curling up with the family for movie night!  Of course, the pale blue, gray and taupe color palette, natural textures and jawdropping lighting doesn't hurt, either (nor do the fabulous outdoor living rooms!) It's been a little while since I've posted a house tour and I thought this one was swoon worthy enough to make the cut!

Hydrangeas, crepe myrtles and slate pavers make a simple but dramatic first impression to the house:

Love, love, LOVE Gambrel's signature pale blue color palette and iron hanging lanterns in the living room:

The vintage-inspired kitchen is breathtaking, from the floor-to-ceiling subway tile to the custom made enamel pendant lights and woven bar stools:

Now, that's what I call a butler's pantry!  The darker gray on the trim and cabinetry is divine:

The teal and emerald green in the study is not a color combination I would ever think to pair together, but it works so well here with the brass desk and sconces, not to mention the silk striped rug:

That pale blue tufted sofa is what my dreams are made of!  Swoon....

Blue grass cloth, crisp white window panels and woven Roman shade and brass accents in the bedroom?  Yes, please:

Pretty sure this master bath is bigger than my first two apartments COMBINED:

This outdoor patio is such a beautiful extension of indoors - I love the woven shades, the gorgeous teak furniture and outdoor kitchen with open shelving: