Every spring, we look forward to the local home and garden tours in Orange County, California, because we get the opportunity to create tablescapes for some of the homes. This year was no exception. I had the pleasure of making a tablescape at a residence in the North Tustin Hills for the Tustin Garden Club Tour.  The night before this tour, we had a late-season rain shower, and the morning was cloudy and cool before the afternoon opened up into beautiful sunshine.

Here are some photos, followed by links to the products I used from I Dream of France.

I Dream of France Lifestyle Tablescape

Tablecloth and Napkins: Le Cluny Cotton Coated French Tablecloths Fayence Red-Cream (I love how this complements the home’s brickwork)

Water/Wine Glasses: La Rochere Fleur de Lys Wine Glass

Dinner Plates: Le Cadeaux Dinner Plate – Rustica Cream

Soup Bowls: Le Cadeaux Cereal, Salad or Soup Bowl – Rustica Cream

Mini Bowls: Le Cadeaux Mini Bowl

Business Card Holders: Antique Style Cast Iron Business Card Holder – White

Also shown: handpainted ceramic candlesticks, vintage-style crown decorations, and Le Cluny bread baskets in Lavender Blue and Fayence Red-Cream fabrics.

Online Gallery

In related news, we put together a Gallery section on I Dream of France to show how our products look in real homes. We would love to include your home! Send your photos to bonjour@idreamoffrance.com

–Brett

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I spent some time this weekend catching up on magazines and noticed that two featured French twists on classic dishes in their February issues.

Provence Herbs in Linen Bags from I Dream of France

Provence Herbs in Linen Bags from I Dream of France

First, InStyle showed baking halibut wrapped in parchment paper with herbes de Provence. This is our favorite way to prepare fish at home, including sole and salmon. (Aluminum foil instead of parchment works fine.) We also like to wrap lighter-flavored fish with lemon and onion slices, with a little bit of salt and thyme. Just bake at 350 degrees and check every few minutes until the fish flakes with a fork. Wrapping the fish keeps it from drying out while it cooks, and doesn’t make a mess in your baking dish. Easy and healthful — who says French cooking has to be complicated?

Daniel Boulud's Lasagne Photographed by Kana Okada for Elle Decor

Daniel Boulud's Lasagne Photographed by Kana Okada for Elle Decor

In Elle Decor, Daniel Boulud’s column shares a recipe for chicken lasagne with spinach and mushrooms. This is on my to-do list for sure! This recipe is very old-world European because it has you make bechamel (white sauce) instead of the ricotta cheese mixture that is more typical in the States.

This month’s Elle Decor is also the International Issue, which I love because all the articles are republished from other editions of Elle Decor. The pieces are shorter than what usually appears in the American edition and have a different style of writing. Naturally, they feature a Paris apartment filled with art, checkerboard marble floors, klismos chairs, and a copper bathtub. However, my favorite was from Elle Decoration Russia, which showed a traditional Russian country cabin (called an isba) reproduced inside a Moscow apartment. The owner actually took a wall from an old cabin and had it re-installed inside the apartment to be as authentic as possible. My favorite detail was the kitchen’s painted cupboards, beautiful and special.

–Brett

We are not the only retailer in the USA specialized in French decor (we are just the only one you need to remember…) Some are small, some are big, we all have our specialty, but the big name in the game has always been Pierre Deux. The first national retailer specialized in French Country decor, Pierre Deux had a name and reputation that came to represent the whole industry. If I had a Franc for every time a customer compared us to Pierre Deux!

Pierre Deux

Well this summer, Pierre Deux quietly went away, victim to the brutal recession. Pierre Deux started as an individual store in 1967 in New York City. The two owners (both named Pierre) imported and sold French furniture. They added some decor accessories to their furniture line and soon realized that the accessories were selling better. Pierre Deux continued growing and ended with two dozen stores throughout the USA.

I never thought I would say this, being our competitor, but we’ll miss them.

–Jean-Michel

All tablecloths are not created equal. One of the things that make the traditional Provencal round tablecloth so desirable is the “placé” design. Placé is a French word that means “placed”. Basically, on a placé tablecloth, the design is “placed” on the shape of the tablecloth instead of the tablecloth being cut from a length of regular printed fabric. What does all this mean? Well, just take a look at our example below showing two Lisa Blue tablecloths and you will get the idea immediately.  One of the problems in having a linear pattern fabric for a round tablecloth is how the lines appear distorted around the sides of the table. The beauty of the round placé, on the other hand, is that the design will adapt to any size table.

Placé vs Linear patterns

Placé vs Linear patterns

Placé is not only used for round tablecloths but it is definitely its biggest application. The difficulty with a rectangular placé is that if  the proportions between the length and the width of the table are not exactly right, the placé design will not look right.

Rectangular placés don't always fit right

Rectangular placés don't always fit right

Most of our printed tablecloths come in placé in the 68″ or 70″ round sizes. The small (60″) and the oversize (90″) rounds — usually available through special order — are linear designs (not placé).

Another term used along with placé is “cadré” (framed in English). A cadré design is similar to a placé as it follows the contour of the tablecloth, but instead of a design that reaches the center of the tablecloth, it only has a frame pattern around the circumference. The center of the tablecloth is mostly a solid color or a light design.

Jacquard cadré tablecloth

Jacquard cadré tablecloth

Our French jacquard tablecloths come in cadré designs in square and rectangular sizes.

Who knew the French took their tablecloths so seriously? For a culture known for elevating food to an art form and a multi-course event, it makes sense to extend the same level of care and thought to the table setting used for presenting its cuisine. A feast for the eyes!

For more information, browse our table linen section, visit our FAQ section, or contact us!

–Jean-Michel