When I’m not using my dining table for entertaining, I like to keep it decorated with a centerpiece that is eye-catching but understated, something that harmonizes with the season. For January and February, those quiet months nestled between the opulence of holiday decorating and the vibrancy of spring décor, I prefer a centerpiece that is clean and crisp, simply stated but intriguing. Here are two great winter centerpiece looks we designed at Nell Hill’s to inspire you. 


Look One: A Treasure Trove of Textures

You can’t pass by this captivating centerpiece without wanting to stop and peek through all the curious objects cradled in this wooden dough bowl. Depending upon where you are in the room, you’ll be pulled in by something different. I think this unusual collection proves you don’t have to have color to have lots of drama. Here’s how we pulled it off:

We started with a lovely stage for our centerpiece: a simple wooden dining table at Nell Hill’s Briarcliff, paired with understated fabric covered dining chairs. Then, we positioned a medium sized wooden dough bowl on the diagonal. Wooden dough bowls are one of my top decorating tools because they can be used over and again in new and different ways in your year-round decorating. I keep one on top of the bookcase in my study to hold seasonal greens. I also use them when I entertain to hold iced drinks. They are rugged and chunky and look marvelous paired with any accents in any style home.

Next we filled the back half of the dough bowl with a tumble of wicker accents to give us touchable texture in a monochromatic color palette. Be sure to create a visual high point in your display, like we did when we positioned the center bottle so that it’s almost standing straight up.

I’m captivated by bottles encased in natural reeds because the organic lines and patterns are so rich. It’s easy to tuck a bottle or two into an existing display, maybe on your mantel or in a bookcase.

In the front half of the bowl, we created a nest of sorts out of creamy old books and manuscripts, pages invitingly open, creating soft, loose rolls. Then, we filled in the remaining open space with a sprinkling of wire-covered candle holders.

Aren’t these candle holders great? I really like to use hanging candle holders like these in my decor because they create a magical effect yet are super easy to work with. In the warmer months, you’ll find them dangling from trees and bushes in my garden. In the fall and winter, I work them into my seasonal displays to add sparkle and shine. These particular candle holders, with their weathered wire finish, are fun and outdoorsy, not fussy and prim. They work seamlessly with the aged effect we are going for in this centerpiece, don’t they?



Look Two: Winter Lights

During the winter months, with their long, dark nights, there’s nothing like filling a table with sparkling candles. In this sensational centerpiece, darling wire-covered candle holders steal the show. The contrast of the ornate wooden risers and the primitive nature of the simple glass shapes and steely gray wire are sublime. Here’s how we did it:

All good centerpieces incorporate a variety of heights. To achieve dramatic height, you need risers. We’ve recently begun carrying these carved wooden bases, and I’m head-over-heels in love with them. We’re using them in display after display at Nell Hill’s because they deliver a softer, more organic statement. For this display we used several of the bases, creating two towers, one made of four bases stacked top to top and bottom to bottom, the other out of two bases, stacked bottom to bottom.

Next, we added five candle holders, mixing in a variety of sizes and shapes, placing some on top of the risers, the rest around the sides of the display.

We popped in votive candles in small clear glass votive holders to prevent them from dripping onto the tabletop.

You could stop here for a streamlined statement, but we wanted to create a story with more interest, so we surrounded the base of our display with a handful of the smallest sized candle holders.

To finish, we filled them with found treasures, white river rocks and bare twigs from the woods. Anything natural would look perfect in these little glass showcases, like seashells or acorns or stones you pick up on a winter hike.


Next Week … decorate with today’s bold color palette with confidence. It’s easier than you think!

P.S. Our Special Order Upholstered Furnishing Sale is going strong. Now through Feb. 15 all our lovely upholstered furnishings are 20% off!

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19 Responses to “Winter Centerpieces: Two Crisp and Clean Ideas”

  1. EJ Says:

    Lovely; Scandinavian Neutral! What is the price of the wooden risers, please? Thank you.

  2. Carol Says:

    The center piece arrangements are beautiful. Are the wire covered candleholders available for shipment? What is the price?

  3. Lisa Brown Says:

    How much are the dough bowls?

  4. Heather Says:

    Love both looks! I’m going to have to check out your shop to find those wooden risers. Just what I need!

  5. Lynn Murphy Says:

    Thanks for the 2 neat ideas. I was in your store today with a fun group of women. They had a great time, one lady had never been to either of your shops. A couple of the girls, mentioned however, that while visiting your nice restroom,why you did not have any coat or purse hooks? I said I would ask? I, however being from the country, just propped my coat up over the locked door. Guess the others are just city slickers!!! LOL

  6. Mary Carol Says:

    I have some prices for you guys … Lisa, the wooden dough bowls come in a variety of sizes (the one pictured here is our largest at 4 feet long) and all cost $110. EJ, the risers are $46.
    Lynn, thanks for the input on the need for coat hooks in the ladies room! I love you resourceful country girls — I’m one of those myself!!!

  7. Karen Barker Says:

    Enjoyed the ideas but am wondering if you have any thoughts on what one could use above cabinets so the area is not so stark? Right now I have fake greenery(nice quality but think it is passe?)….along with pottery….

  8. Sharon Penney-Morrison Says:

    Way too busy.

  9. mary gray Says:

    I have been a fan for many years and first time, I don’t get this tablescape. Not attractive, looks like you are just trying to sell the items.

  10. Mildred Hoppe Says:

    How much are the carved wooden risers featured in the current blog?

  11. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Love the dough bowl ….. Had my hands on that from your store couple times ……. I have a humongous dining room table and it would look SOOO great full to the brim with real green apples ….. Or fill it with garden mulch and column candles and moss …ice and beer for a buffet ….. Yep I would use the heck out of it ….

  12. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Carol, yes, we can ship the wire covered candle holders. They cost $10 for the smallest size, $12.50 for the medium size and $16 for the largest. Give us a call if you’d like to find out more or order some for yourself – we’re happy to help! Our toll free number is 877-746-4320.

  13. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Karen,
    The space above high cabinets is a great spot for these wooden dough bowls. That’s what I have above the tall bookcase in my study. I tilt the dough bowl on its side, ever so slightly, and fill it with seasonal greens, like faux gourds in the fall or pine branches in the winter.

  14. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Mildred, the risers are $46. Give us a call if you’d like to order one for your table: 877-746-4320.

  15. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Mary and Sharon, thanks for sharing your comments. We’re always experimenting with new looks and styles at Nell Hill’s. We love to keep things fresh and interesting, and daring to risk is part of the journey, isn’t it? I love to hear what people think, so I appreciate your feedback!

  16. Mary Carol Says:

    Robin, quit practicing self control and indulge yourself in a dough bowl next time you come to Nell Hill’s :) You will use the heck out of it, I guarantee. xxx ooo.

  17. Robin Frank -- Vision Interiors Says:

    Sounds like a dough bowl is in my future ………. Love you too !!!

  18. Dianna Says:

    I’ve been looking for dining chairs and those look almost perfect in size. Do you carry them in your store and, if so, what’s the price range and is the wood available in any other colors?

  19. Mary Carol Says:

    Hi Dianna–The chairs featured in this blog are lovely chairs and they come ‘only’ as shown with the natural stain on the legs and the linen like fabric. The regular price is $219.00, however, they are on sale at the moment for $176.00. Please call the store for more details @ 877-746-4320.

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