Home & Garden

Garden statues and birdbaths warm the inside of the house

A few months ago, I faced a decorating challenge extraordinaire. Colin Cowie, designer and party planner for the stars, was coming to Nell Hill's Briarcliff for a special "Tabletops With a Twist" benefit luncheon. For the event, we needed 60 table centerpieces that were elegant and interesting plus packed enough punch to hold their own in the massive venue. What could be more perfect than garden statuary? On each table we featured distinctive statuary embellished with honeysuckle vine, pumpkins and gourds. The effect was stunning.

Once the pariah of the decorating world, garden statuary is now super chic. If you haven't yet caught garden-statue fever, invite your statuary inside this winter, featuring it front and center in your displays.

* Brighten your table with a birdbath: No matter what size birdbath you own, it has a place on a table in your home. I like to put short, squatty ones on my coffee table, atop a stack of books or on a silver tray. Fill it with pinecones or green apples. If you like, cover it with a glass cloche for an interesting twist.

Tall, thin birdbaths made attention-grabbing centerpieces for your dining-room table. But before you plunk a birdbath down on your table, make sure it's not too heavy. For years, I loaded my dining-room table down with massive statues and almost made the legs give out. You'll also want to put a piece of cardboard under the birdbath to protect your table's finish.

Situate the birdbath at your table's center, then fill in around it with interesting accents like a pair of candlesticks or urns holding seasonal greens. Then fill the basin with something unusual. Rest a wreath on the basin and insert a gazing ball in the center. Or place a compote holding fruit in the basin. How about a vase filled with faux vines that hang down over the bath's sides? Or put a large lantern on top that has a birch-bark candle tucked inside.

* Get playful with figurines: I really like decorating with garden figurines, whether a bust or a full-figure statues. While antique concrete statues are fabulous, I usually use reproductions made from a lightweight material like terra cotta because they are inexpensive and easier to lift.

Figurines look wonderful in any tabletop tableau, alone or dressed up with seasonal greens or combined with a few other interesting accents. Place them on your kitchen island, powder-room vanity, mantel or in a bookcase. For added fun, ring them with a seasonal wreath or encircle their heads with greens.

* Create bouquets in urns: For my holiday open house this season, we placed a large, square concrete garden urn on top of one of my outdoor tables, then filled the urn with a loose, natural-looking bouquet of bare branches and pine boughs. I'll leave it there all winter to add color and texture to my sleeping garden.

Gather fallen sticks from your yard, snip some boughs off your evergreens and create a bouquet in an urn for your home. Place it to the side of your fireplace, on an entry table or at the center of your dining-room table.

* Have a capital idea: I adore capitals and have used them for years in my decorating. Cluster a few glass containers on top of a capital and place it on your coffee table. Use it as a riser for a display on your mantel. When you entertain, let a capital hold a silver serving tray. For my holiday open house, we topped a faux concrete capital with a Tudor urn for a timeless architectural tableau.