Michelle Farnsworth






I blame my love of salvage and thrift store items on my grandpa (Pappa) Arnold Engstrand. Growing up in a modest environment, salvaging and repurposing was what we did. I remember many days of driving around with Pappa in his "old jalopy" (his term of endearment for his very worn out but reliable work truck) and pulling over to the side of the road to rescue a treasure. #IBreakForJunk

What does this have to do with setting a holiday tabletop? Well, for me, it's the backbone of my design aesthetic and the origin of my eye for detail. I refer to my style as "salvage/modern/country chic."

I'll show you what I mean and how to use what you already have on hand and what you can find at thrift store to create a one-of-a-kind holiday tabletop.

1. Use what you have

Using what you have is a tried-and-true method of decorating. Pull out things in storage. Use dishes that were passed down to you. Go find treasures cleverly hidden in your home. The ones you think are out of style -- those are the ones that really count.

I love the analogy of when I choose a fashion-forward ensemble and my husband and/or boys say, "That's weird." Then I know I'm on the right track. Same with home décor. #WeirdIsRight

For my tabletop, I already had the linens, placemats, chargers, votives and, most importantly, my mother-in-law's china. I loved the pattern on the china and it inspired me for my next step: thrifting.

2. Thrift store heaven

When you're young, newly married and starting your own home, the thought of shiny and new is oh-so-appealing. But through the years you realize that it can all start to look the same. #VarietyIsTheSpiceOfLife #SorryForTheLongHashtags

Go to a thrift store. If you haven't done this before, you are missing out. You can find everything and then things you didn't want to see.

I like Seeds of Hope on Main Street in Bismarck. The profits benefit the Abused Adult Resource Center, helping people in our community. It's clean, organized and priced fairly. And believe it or not, they even have sales!

The day I went shopping it was 50 percent off all dishes and home decor! Bingo! #Winning

Here is a list of what I purchased for $18.50:

-A complete set of glassware in various sizes (a total of 19 glasses)

-A beautiful Asian-style vase

-Gold candelabra

-Two cream, scrolled metal votive stands

-One white-and-gold-trimmed serving dish and matching sugar cup

-Glass punch bowl


3. Play with pattern and texture

After collecting my treasures, I started to set the table. Don't be afraid to mix and match. The best part of design is when you feel it all clicking. Usually you have that "aha" moment, and it motivates you to keep going to the next step. In my case, I knew I needed to add color, some height and whimsy. #DontGetTooSerious

4. Cribbage, fruit and flowers

Possibly the name of my new design book, but no. These are just a few items that I added to make the tabletop really come to life.

I wanted some height to my centerpiece but didn't know what to use. I went to Antiques on Main in Downtown Bismarck and found an old cribbage board. It was perfect.

Incorporating Granny Smith apples, perfectly red pomegranates and flowers was my next choice. Fruit is bold inexpensive and edible.

When purchasing flowers, pick a few larger stems for a focal point. #RobertsFloral #CrabappleFloral #MyPeeps

5. Bring the outside in

Go outside and look around for plants, branches or pinecones; hunt and gather (incidentally one of my favorite stores in Minneapolis; but I digress). #GoogleIt

I clipped some berry-bearing branches and pine branches from my backyard and added them to the centerpiece. Tiny sprigs became mates with the Granny Smith apples. Baby pinecones found on an afternoon walk added more texture. #ThanksNeighbors #Free

6. Add whimsy

Never get so serious that you forget a touch of sparkle and humor. Use your noggin. There are lots of ideas in there just swimming around, waiting to pop out.

While shopping at a couple of my favorite Downtown Bismarck boutiques, Soul Interiors and Kittsona, I found my sparkle and humor. Soul Interiors provided a plethora of ideas. I found a box of delicate, gold, wooden feathers. Whoa. Perfect to accentuate the gold in the candelabra, vase and serving pieces. #ShopLocal #IdeaFactory

I wanted a sweater at Kittsona but walked out with bags of wooden coasters and mini logs, and my place settings were born. #KeepYourEyesOpen

So you see, with a little walk down memory lane, hunting and adventure, you can introduce your friends and family to an unexpected holiday tabletop without breaking the bank.

Now if you'll excuse me, I am going to make a nice Granny Smith and pomegranate salad. #EatYourDesign

**My holiday tabletop design is lovingly dedicated to my late mother-in-law, Joyce Farnsworth. Her china will be cherished and passed down. Joyce was my biggest fan. Until we meet again...

Michelle Farnsworth loves travel, writing, photography, daily devotions, gardening, making jewelry and finding old treasures. Her greatest accomplishment is her two sons, who bring life, love and laughter to her each day.