A Very Happy (Un)Valentine’s Day

I’ve found that the very mention of Valentine’s Day elicits dramatic eye rolls and
groans…it’s viewed by many as 1) a holiday manufactured by Hallmark or 2) a day
that requires both parties in a relationship to display outward acts of affection that
should, in theory, be demonstrated spontaneously on the other 364 days out of the
year. Look, I’m a hopeless romantic but even I have to agree…
Rather than write Valentine’s Day off altogether, however, I propose this: Let’s take
Valentine’s Day back! Let’s make it all our own and reassign its significance. What if
we treated Valentine’s Day like birthdays? I think of birthdays as friendly reminders
to reflect on life and celebrate my existence…let’s use Valentine’s Day as an excuse to
pause and reflect on the people in our lives that we are lucky enough to love and
who love us in return. I’m not just talking about romantic love…I’m talking about
your mom, your sister, your best friend—even your pet! Use this holiday to dwell in
happiness and love and express it in a way that reflects who you are and the kind of
love you share with someone special.
For my couples: Maybe you’re a traditionalist and opt for red roses and dinner out
every year. But maybe this is the year to mix it up. Opt for an arrangement that’s soft
and foraged—something that drips with romance and the suggestion of a secluded
field of wild flowers. Yes, y’all, flowers can do that. Flowers tell a story. Don’t
underestimate the power of a beautiful arrangement—they are conduits for
sentiment and imagery. As for that tired old heart-shaped box of Russell Stover
chocolates (I’m not hating, I’m just saying), let’s give them a rest. It’s a shameless
plug but seriously, we have some artisan chocolates by Kate Weiser that will blow
your mind (and bae’s). They are little works of art and so beautiful it’s almost hard
to eat them—almost. Oh, and one more thing…ditch the reservations. Crank up your
favorite music at home and cook the meal that you had for your first date together.
Or maybe you opt to celebrate over the weekend and go hiking with a picnic in tow.
As I’ve said before, whatever you do, make it yours.
For all of the other lovers out there: Celebrate this day to the fullest. Let me
reiterate, Valentine’s Day isn’t just for couples and it doesn’t celebrate one kind of
love. Make this holiday special in your own way and remember: Fresh flowers done
the right way are never the wrong prelude to saying, “I love you.”

Holiday Décor that Sparkles and Shines

The joy of decorating for the holidays is never lost upon me. My inner child leaps up, winds tinsel around her shoulders like a boa, and does a happy dance around the house. I find that my personal aesthetic straddles the classic, nostalgic Christmases of my youth and the playful, ever-changing trends of contemporary design. If the holidays have crept up on you and the prospect of decorating—much less embarking on that glorified scavenger hunt commonly referred to as “holiday shopping”—has made you break out into a cold, panic-induced sweat…don’t fret! I’m here to help.

First, I encourage you to view holiday décor much like you do your closet: Keep some classically beautiful pieces at the heart of your design and use the latest trends to accessorize them, recycling existing décor in new and creative ways. Holiday décor, like your wardrobe, is intended to enhance what is already there and in a way, serve as an extension of who you are. Allow decorations to tell a story unique to your aesthetic and choose pieces that will endure, reworking them into your design year after year, no matter which trends emerge.

For the past five years, holiday décor has focused on using foraged, found, and fresh elements—like pinecones, branches, and magnolia leaves—to make faux trees and other elements appear more natural. Ultimately, this created a lovely organic, neutral aesthetic. I still love this look but believe that it can continue to evolve by layering new elements with it to create a natural look with a ‘touch’ of sparkle.

Ribbon is the easiest and most cost-effective way to update a look: Easily change entire color schemes and give new life to wreathes, trees, and other design elements—even use it in lieu of napkin rings in tablescapes! One of my favorite things this season is mixing classic tartan flannel with high impact, sparkly ribbon to reinterpret a classic look with a contemporary “wow” factor. Carry the shiny, luxe theme through and use sequins with tartan. Think Ralph Lauren with a twist!

For the truly fearless design elf, use mid-century modern for your inspiration to create a clean, dimensional, fresh look. Visit us at the TLF workshop and we can help you find everything you’ll need!

A Cinderella Story

As a young girl, I would spend hours playing dress up and daydreaming of imaginary worlds where I was a fairytale princess, mermaid, or quite often, a super hero.  The spell was broken only when my mother would call me downstairs for dinner or poke her head into my room and ask, “Tanarah, have you finished your homework yet?” While this was merely child’s play at the time, I now realize that it was a grand dress rehearsal for what I do as a designer today.  I dream up a concept or take a client’s vision and create a narrative for it, developing an imaginary world along the way for it to take root in and grow. A styled shoot is another manifestation of that.


Often, I hear people say that styled shoots portray a look that “cannot be achieved” or isn’t “realistic.” But that’s the point of a styled shoot—it’s the adult version of what we did as children, an opportunity to dream big. As an artist and designer, it’s my job to translate that fantasy into reality and I accomplish this by creating a look that is what I like to refer to as “approachable chic.”  This aesthetic is luxe without being pretentious and is above all, timeless because it’s an extension of the client and tells their unique story.


These days, it’s about me granting wishes rather than making them and I cast myself as the fairy godmother rather than the princess. I honor each client’s bottom line and understand that money plays a pivotal role in planning a wedding. But having a finite budget doesn’t limit the magic of your special day. Even Cinderella had a coach fashioned from a pumpkin, a sparkling gown from rags, and glass slippers cobbled from stardust. I may not carry a wand, but there’s plenty of magic up my sleeve. Now, get those plans started, princess! Don’t forget to dream big—a styled shoot is a great place to start.


Bippity, boppity, boo…


Tanarah (AKA) Your Fairy Godmother