5 Tips for Intimate and Effortless Garden Entertaining

Good friends, good conversation and good weather all combine for the perfect visit.

Enjoying the outdoors is one of the highlights of the summertime season. It is the perfect time to catch up with family and friends with an intimate and memorable setting. #romantichomes
A bistro table is perfect for an intimate get-together where conversation is the order of the day.

Enjoying the outdoors is one of the highlights of the warmer months. It is the perfect time to catch up with family and friends with an intimate and memorable setting.

Dream up beautiful decor and an easy menu to keep things casual and stress-free. And if you already have a garden, terrace or patio, then these five tips will help with your own intimate and effortless garden entertaining.

Looks for lacy details in vintage linens and floral motifs in antique china to recreate the look of old wold elegance. #romantichomes
Looks for lacy details in vintage linens and floral motifs in antique china to recreate the look of old wold elegance.

1. Create a theme

I wanted my table to feel inviting and that conveyed old world romance. For me, nothing says old world romance like vintage linens and china. They are my go to when classic and gracious living come to mind. I love the freedom I find in mixing vintage and delicate floral patterns. They bring an irresistible allure that is hard to achieve with modern dinnerware.

Two's company and three might just be a crowd when entertaining at a bistro table. For this intimate garden-inspired setting, it provides just enough space for food and drinks. #romantichomes
Two’s company and three might just be a crowd when entertaining at a bistro table. For this intimate garden-inspired setting, it provides just enough space for food and drinks.

2.Decide the number of guests

One of the first things you will need to decide is the number of guests that you will invite. That will determine how large of an area you will need for your gathering. Since I was planning for intimate get-together for two, I knew I could set my table by my much loved bistro set which is set in an area of our garden that is surrounded by green lushness and natural beauty.

For personal comfort and to ensure the freshest flavor of your food, choose a shaded spot before you set up. #romantichomes
For personal comfort and to ensure the freshest flavor of your food, choose a shaded spot before you set up.

3. Find the right spot

Choosing the perfect spot in your garden is the first step in planning your get-together. Find an area in your garden that looks inviting, pleasing, and that keeps your guests away from direct sunlight. I have a favorite area in our garden that is flanked by trees, hydrangeas and offers the perfect open air backdrop that invites one to relax and take in nature. It is enchanting this time of the year and provides plenty of shade.

For a casual garden entertaining, there's no need to spread a full meal. A fruit and cheese plate with a variety of options is perfect for snacking. #romantichomes
For a casual afternoon visit, there’s no need to spread a full meal. A fruit and cheese plate with a variety of options is perfect for snacking.

4. Decide on a menu

The food and drinks are equally important. Since my main goal was to enjoy my company, I decided to serve a cheese course. It allows everyone to help themselves and you won’t have to play server. I made a lovely and refreshing peach sangria as our signature drink. I filled a decanter with the left over sangria and kept it nearby which made refills a cinch.

Stacked on an antique book and a bundle of hand-written letters for added height, this arrangement of fresh hydrangeas is perfectly suited for a simple and elegant event. #romantichomes
Stacked on an antique book and a bundle of hand-written letters for added height, this arrangement of fresh hydrangeas is perfectly suited for a simple and elegant event.

5. Use florals from your garden

For a casual garden setting, I like to use flowers that are seasonal and have a just-picked feel. Since hydrangeas are in full bloom in our garden, they were the ideal flowers to create an effortless arrangement. To add character and romance to your arrangement, use a silver-plate pitcher as your vessel. You can easily find them at thrift stores or flea markets these days.

Janet Collazo shares tips for entertaining, home styling and cooking at her blog, Rosemary & Thyme. Stop by for more inspiration with a floral, vintage twist!

Sharon Santoni’s French Country Home

This country home in Normandy is a garden lover's dream.

Sharon Santoni's blue barn door
The bold blue hue of the barn door pops against the aged stone walls.

The rustic charm of French country décor is a coveted look many homeowners who love the romantic style strive to create. For Sharon Santoni of My French Country Home, living in Normandy makes it all the simpler. Her house lies in a valley just an hour outside of Paris, nestled between farmland and a forest.

Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine.
Linens hang to dry in the Normandy sunshine while Sharon’s pup plays nearby.
Sharon Santoni's garden
The garden provides an endless supply of fresh flowers.














Outdoor entertaining in Sharon Santoni's lush garden.
Lush greenery and fresh flowers create a beautiful ambiance for outdoor dining.

Her flowers, food and even the décor are all determined by the seasons. If you’ve ever wondered how you can have the French country look in your own home throughout every season, follow Sharon’s example.

French country living room with garden flowers
Peonies from Sharon’s garden add a colorful touch to the sitting room.

Pops of Garden Colors

Flowers bring a liveliness to every room. Throughout Sharon’s home, fresh blooms pop with color against white walls and porcelain pitchers, and all of the flowers come from Sharon’s own garden.

“I see my garden as a palace of colors,” Sharon says. “The only time I buy flowers is in the winter, when I can use fresh greenery from my garden, but not flowers. From early spring through the end of September, I use my own flowers in all my decorating.”

The tables of Sharon Santoni's entryway are full of flowers

Seasonal blooms stand out against her neutral backdrop of white and gray. On her dining room table, soft white linens and napkins emphasize her colorful blossoms all the more. “All of my linens are vintage or antique,” Sharon says. “I have cupboards and cupboards of linens. I love linens.” The vintage quality and embroidered hems make them simple, elegant tablecloths or napkins for any dinner party.

White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon's outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.
White linen adds to the formal, yet natural elegance of Sharon’s outdoor space. A chandelier adds to the ambiance.

Tasty Décor

It’s impossible to accomplish the French country look without including food as part of the decor. Almost every table in Sharon’s home is decorated with seasonal fruits, vegetables and homemade treats.

Plein air painting and picnic.
“I’m a messy painter,” Sharon says. I only paint in the summer because I can paint outside.” When the weather permits, she will spread a thick quilt in her garden, set up her canvas and paint away.

Although Sharon grows some of her own produce, she also purchases food from the local farmers near her property. Plus she always eats what’s in season. “We like to eat food that is in the right season,” Sharon says. “We grow some fruits and vegetables in the garden. For example, right now we’re eating a lot of strawberries. I like eating food in season because you can look forward to it as the seasons come around.”

Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth
Colorful flowers pop against the black linen tablecloth.

Aside from growing her own food, Sharon and her husband also enjoy cooking. She shares some of her favorite recipes in her book, My French Country Home, and decorates many of her tables with freshly baked tarts and scones.

Sharon Santoni's French kitchen
Food and flowers are Sharon’s decor of choice, as long as both are fresh.

“Entertaining is such a big part of everyday life here,” Sharon says. “My husband comes from a long line of great cooks, and these are my family’s personal recipes.” Adding croissants and seasonal fruits to your breakfast table next to a pitcher full of fresh blooms goes a long way toward creating the French country feel in your home.

Sharon Santoni's dog in an armchair
A home should be comfortable, according to Sharon. She is not against muddy boots in the kitchen or her dog resting on an armchair.

The Precious and the Rustic

When it comes to maintaining the French country look throughout the seasons, Sharon offers a bit of advice. Aside from using seasonal blooms and decorating her tables with vintage linens, she always suggests keeping it real. “The French country look is a mix of old and new,” Sharon says. “It can’t be too rich or precious. It has to be real. We raised four children and two dogs in our house. A little bit of shabby does no harm at all.”

French linen bed
A pretty, feminine bedspread in the guest cottage brightens up the room and makes each of Sharon’s guests feel right at home.

Also, don’t overthink it, she suggests. In the end, your home is just meant to make you feel at home. Change with the seasons, and let fresh blooms be your centerpiece for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Purchase fresh fruits and veggies from your local farmer’s market, and bake breakfast pastries or desserts to go with them.

Sharon Santoni's puts fresh flowers in the guest room as a welcoming gesture.
Fresh flowers by the bedside are a welcoming gesture toward guests, making them feel right at home.

Make the most of neutral colors such as white, off-white or gray in your napkins, tablecloths or runners to emphasize your floral centerpiece. This approach will brighten up your home and make it appear all the more welcoming. The French country lifestyle is carefree and spontaneous, and your home can be too.

Backyard Conservatory Hosts Special Gatherings

This unique venue, with it's glass and metal-filigree walls, is the centerpiece for events year-round.

Kim Brandstater's backyard conservatory hosts several events throughout the year.
Exciting things are always happening in the backyard conservatory of Kim Brandstater, a jewelry maker and artist. The exquisite gardens on nearly an acre of land host special boutiques, artistic workshops and a biannual Lavender Marketplace for beautiful handicrafts, all things lavender and items with a French accent.

No house is truly romantic without a backyard conservatory, say architects in England, where the earliest known conservatories were 17th-century compositions of stone used for storing food. Then in the 19th-century metal structures were used as greenhouses for cultivating plants and resplendent venues for entertaining.

Lavender Marketplace and Workshop Sign
Lavender Marketplace: Wander through the gardens and find locally made soaps, jewelry, silk florals, pillows and gourmet food items. Open spring and holidays.

This conservatory is used for a little bit of both. Kim Brandstater shares the structure with her husband, Justin, and their three children. It is made of coated steel with over 100 glass panels and located next to a Victorian farmhouse in Sierra Madre, California.

Placed beside a French potager garden landscaped with willow trees, white roses, lavender and vegetables, the Victorian Grande Dame sparkles amid blossoms spilling onto pathways meandering past aqua French pots and gray umbrellas. “My husband and I traveled to Europe to tour homes and gardens to be inspired,” Kim says. “We came home with ideas for the drought-tolerant yard we designed.”

One- and two-day workshops include painting florals with Christie Repasy, basic wire linking and jewelry making, and mastering pique assiette. Enjoy homemade lavender and white chocolate scones, fresh fare for lunch with ingredients from the potager, or a mother-daughter English tea.

From the Outside In

The couple’s love for nature and romance extends to the interior of the conservatory where a concrete floor stained with an acid wash settled into an aqua color resembling water. The main room is lined with birdcages housing finches, planters filled with palm plants and fiddle ferns surrounded by teak furniture. “I like the rustic look because it doesn’t detract from the garden; the garden is the view,” says Kim.

Three crystal chandeliers illuminate the conservatory interior.
The conservatory interior is illuminated by three crystal chandeliers.

Rustic Glamour

By day the room is streaming with light, but in the evening, dinner parties take on their own glimmering beauty. Guests dine under three chandeliers, a glass roof and a star-lit sky. Rectangular wooden tables are pushed together for intimate seating. They are dressed with burlap, ruffle and lace table runners, while French pillows and faux-fur-covered benches add comfortable seating.

Tableware and its placement are bearers of beauty and tradition on any table, so mix and match vintage with new silver pieces and china patterns, antique with country and “use what you have,” suggests Kim.

Surround Sound

Plans for live dinner music are in the works, but the best performance is the one nature gives: “When it rains, you can hear the clinking sound of the rain and the acorns falling from the oak tree onto the metal,” Kim says. “I haven’t tried sleeping in it yet … but perhaps that’s next.”

For more information:

Visit lavenderworkshops.com for information on upcoming events, workshops and markets.

Feng Shui Beach Cottage

Add a little salt spray and a dash of sunshine, and you've got this romantic-meets-beachy haven.

A tropical garden wraps the front of the home in lively colors, acting as a preview for what's inside
A lush tropical garden wraps the front of the home in lively colors, giving a taste of the interior.
The front door welcomes Judi home from her frequent travels, and guests in for entertaining with a seashell wreath for all seasons.

There are few places as relaxing as the beach. You can visualize it now: the warm sun and sand, the meditative sound of the crashing waves, a cool drink to sip on and the company of good friends. But you don’t have to settle for just imagining yourself there. With the right design, you can bring the tranquility of the beach right into your own home.

For Judi Burson, bringing this happiness to herself and her guests was the top priority when she moved to Corona Del Mar, California. Using Feng Shui principles to guide the look, Judi and interior designer, Mary Jayne Barnett, turned the house into a peaceful retreat that pays homage to its close neighbor, the Pacific ocean.

The contrast of the heirloom rocking chair and coffee table pull the eye toward the center of the room, encouraging conversation and togetherness during gatherings.

Feng Shui designs a flow for homes that begins at the front door. Judi placed a wreath clad with seashells, starfish and driftwood on the entrance, bringing the warmth of the inside out.

Clutter is the antithesis of Feng Shui, so the first step in creating the look was to remove anything unnecessary. “It’s the art of placement. Everything in the room has a purpose or is placed on purpose,” Mary Jayne says. While accessorizing is still encouraged, like these artful pieces of coral displayed on the mantel, it’s important to thoroughly consider each piece so as not to overwhelm a space.

A weathered coat of white paint gives the hutch a bright presence

“Take everything out of the room except for furniture. Sweep it and add things back—but not everything goes back. Release things with love and thanksgiving, and give [them] away in generosity.” Through this process, Judi kept only the coffee table she inherited from her mother and the rocking chair she used to soothe her children to sleep when they were babies. The dining room table and chairs were refinished to match the floor, while the sofa got a cheery green slipcover that can be changed for the holidays.

feng shui beach cottage bedroom
Judi’s dog, Charlie, loves the softness of the bed, which is situated near a rug Judi brought back from a trip to Greece.

Feng Shui philosophy also divides a home into nine centers, each associated with different elements of life. “They are wealth and prosperity; fame and reputation; love, marriage and relationships; health and family; center (Earth); creativity and children; knowledge and self-cultivation; career and life purpose; and helpful people and travel,” Mary Jayne explains.

Every center has colors and materials that promote the best influence the space can provide to inhabitants.The concept of centers, or guas, influenced the design of all the rooms, including the family room where representations of trees, wood and growth are most important. The tall wooden hutch and green hues were intentionally used for the purpose of honoring the center.

In Judi’s bedroom, comfort is the goal, which is accomplished with coordinating pastels, cotton fabrics throughout and custom curtains by Mary Jayne.

feng shui beach cottage garden arbor
When Judi moved into the house, the backyard arbor had only white roses draping over it. To match the style of the rest of the house, she added an eclectic mix of flowers to give it a more organic feel.

Judi travels often but when she comes home, she revels in the beauty that surrounds her. Spending time in the garden is one of her favorite spots to relax after a long trip.

“I love to travel, but I also love to come home to my peaceful place,” she says. “I could see myself staying here for the rest of my life.”


Tips to Heat Up Your Elegant Summer Dining

Bring the party outside and enjoy the season. Here's how to create a little elegance outdoors.


Weather permitting, elegance can be accomplished no matter the surroundings. On the patio or in that curious little corner of the backyard, you can create an entertaining space fit for family, friends or simply enjoying coffee amongst the critters. There is always a way to make it pretty. Roll up your sleeves. Here comes your inspiration.


Select an easily accessible and safe location. Summer brings a plethora of insects to your backyard, which must be managed for any outdoor gathering. You don’t want to be known for sending your guests away with mosquito-bite-filled ankles as parting gifts. Surround your space with citronella candles or torches. Individualized insect-control options are available.





Every set of outdoor furniture needs a clean and pretty canvas to get the party started. Choose a basic white, colored or print tablecloth; and don’t be afraid to layer one on top of the other. Welcome a little more elegance into the space by using cloth napkins and decorative rings. Yes, you and your guests are worth bringing out the good stuff.





You don’t have to be a prize-winning table-setter to create an elegant setting. Colored glass dishes are a great choice, especially if you have a beautiful tablecloth underneath. This provides a fun peek-a-boo at every glance. Choose coffee cups that fit your décor, and size should be considered if space is limited. Shining and placing your utensils provides the final balance to your arrangement.





Keep in mind that your food will be exposed to the elements, which may melt your perfect butter sculpture or crumble the moistest baked items. Setting your butter plate in a bowl of ice will sustain a proper temperature. Serve your food in covered containers when possible to ensure freshness throughout your event. Urging others to take seconds, quickly, will eliminate any concerns you have about optimal culinary conditions. Pour beverages with prestige straight from the bottle, or use a sterling coffee carafe or water pitcher. Feel free to clip a few flowers from around the yard for your centerpiece. This will meld your special area with the beautiful surroundings.





The intent of creating an outdoor entertaining space is to enjoy your natural surrounds with friends and loved ones. Whether you desire a relaxing, romantic vibe or a more ruckus affair, the time you spend and the care you take to make things pretty will be time well spent. You deserve to experience summer at its best. So get outside, find your special spot and get busy.





Garden in Miniature

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

A romantic garden usually contains roses, beds of wildflowers and a shady place to sit. But what if you added an unexpected surprise with tiny vintage gardens for fairies? Visitors will be delighted, and you’ll be able to use your garden as another canvas to feature beautiful antiques. Here’s how to do it.

Find the right piece.

Almost any vintage item you find at a flea market or estate sale can become a garden container. From a wood hutch or old animal trough to a chipped teapot or gilded frame, add vintage items that are large or small to your garden. Just make sure the piece has enough room for soil and plant roots. Even an item as small as a teacup can transform into a miniature garden if you don’t crowd it with too many plants.

Prep your piece.

Before you add plants to your container, make sure it’s ready for outdoor weather. For wood or painted pieces, add a protective stain or spray to prevent fading and rot. Metal pieces may gain a little rust, but this will only add charm to the piece. You’ll also need to waterproof the container, so line it with plastic or a rubber waterproofing material. You won’t want your antique wood crate to rot when you water the strawberries you’ve planted inside.

Bring the romance outside with miniature fairies and charming vintage finds.

Plant the flowers.

First, make sure the piece has good drainage. If it doesn’t, or the drainage would cause rot, place a layer of pebbles or pea gravel before you add soil. The rocks will act as a water filter and keep the water from sitting in the soil too long, which can damage the plants. Then add your soil and flowers.

Create a sanctuary for fairies.

Tiny creatures need small spaces with miniature accessories. Plant a low ground cover to act as a grassy meadow or lawn; then add small plants and flowers. Finish it off with the accents. Decorate with a fairy-sized table and chair set, or a bench on which the fairies can relax. Don’t forget to add the fairies too!


Grow Your Own Bouquet

Learn how to keep your home filled with fresh flowers without spending a fortune.


Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

A bouquet of fresh flowers can do so much to brighten up your home. The scent, the bright colors and the reminder of the world outside will add a breath of fresh air to the room. The downside of fresh bouquets is the cost—the flowers will last for about a week (if you’re lucky), and if you want to keep fresh flowers in your home on a regular basis, the costs will add up to a pretty penny.

Luckily, there’s a solution—grow your own bouquets! “You can fill your house with flowers without spending a fortune,” writes Alex Mitchell in her new book, Gardening on a Shoestring. The book is a helpful gardening resource full of tips and tricks for making the most of your outdoor space without breaking the bank. Here are her instructions for how to create a cutting garden in your own backyard.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.

What You’ll Need:

  • An area of ground 6 x 9 feet, cleared of weeds and stones and raked into a fine tilth
  • Tape measure
  • Garden twine
  • Twigs or sticks
  • Scissors
  • 6 packets of seed: Bupleurum griffithli, Rudbeckia hirta ‘Marmalade,’ Cosmos ‘Sensation Mix,’ Cornflower ‘Blue Ball,’ Ammi majus, Agrostemma githago (Corncockle), or seeds suited to your planting region
  • Rake
  • Watering can with rose attachment/garden hose

When To Start:

Mid- to late spring

How to Do it:

Divide your growing area into six equal squares, staking out the grid with twine tied to sticks pushed into the soil. Then sow each square with a different variety of seed. Rake over the soil gently to cover the seeds and water well. Keep the patch weeded and protect the young shoots from slugs until established. Sowing each variety of seed in a different square makes harvesting and weeding easier.

Learn how to grow your own bouquets with a cutting garden.


Cut the flowers throughout the spring and summer to keep the plants blooming!

Learn how to garden without breaking the bank.

Gardening on a Shoestring by Alex Mitchel, published by Quarto, © 2016; quartoknows.com.

Book Review: French Chic Living



The Book: French Chic Living. Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful
The book, French Chic Living. Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful

According to the author, Florence de Dampierre, French style can be summed up in one word that essentially translates to the word “Taste.” Dating back to the seventeenth century through present day, the taste for luxury, etiquette, beauty, and quality remain the dictates of French life. The French also make distinctly clear the difference between bon gout (good taste), mauvais gout (bad taste), and erreur de gout (in poor taste), and use the terms often.

Her book, French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful, will expand your knowledge about kitchens, kitchen gardens, sprucing up, flowers and plants, and entertaining at home with flair. The book is a useful guide to help you create a welcoming, comfortable and lovely home. Florence shares personal stories of her time in France that lends a heartwarming element to the book. If you haven’t visited France, she creates the picture for you.

The simply appointed French kitchen
The simply appointed French kitchen

The Kitchen

In many homes, the kitchen is considered the center of family life. A great kitchen is well planned, equipped with essential must-have cookware, and pantry items. The book goes into expansive detail about fruits, vegetables, garnishes and oils and how they contribute to making a kitchen thoroughly functional and divine. Recipes are included for items such as ham and cheese quiche, a quintessential French dish. Preserving and pickling fruits and vegetables is also considered a popular French pastime.

Leafy greens are an essential part of the Kitchen Garden
Leafy greens are an essential part of the Kitchen Garden

The Kitchen Garden

Whether it is a humble vegetable plot or an intricately designed garden, the French Kitchen Garden has evolved for centuries. Their designs, planting techniques, irrigation and drainage systems have been imitated throughout Europe. Special care was taken to enclose these gardens that protected even the most fragile herbs in winter. The book provides everything you need to know from garden essentials, tools, to how to create an herb garden. There’s even a recipe for rhubarb pie if you’re interested.

Nice clean windows and floors throughout the house make a difference.
Nice clean windows and floors throughout the house make a difference.

Sprucing Up

“Embracing the simple pleasures of a well-kept home will increase your happiness,” Florence professes. “Making an effort to tidy up and clean your surroundings will reward you with a positive outlook on life, and make you house-proud.” Her grandmother taught her that lemon, savon de Marseille, and lavender are three key ingredients that can clean and “improve” anything. The book expands into areas including the kitchen, bathroom, surfaces and materials, and her go-to general household tips. She also shares methods on how to remove stains from fabric and other material, and pests from your home.

Fresh cut flowers in colorful vases add cheerfulness to the mantel
Fresh cut flowers in colorful vases add cheerfulness to the mantel

Flowers and Plants Within

If you want to bring nature in doors, then flowers, plans and ornamental trees will help you achieve this. This is a sure way to beautify your surroundings. The book covers many aspects of the process including: preparing and conditioning cut flowers, how to extend their life, choosing a proper vase and creating an exquisite arrangement.

An elegant dining room table setting ala French chic
An elegant dining room table setting a la French chic

Entertaining at Home with Flair

The key to entertaining guests is to create an inviting atmosphere. Florence believes, if you need to hire help, do it. Everything from setting up the bar, choosing linens, silverware and centerpieces to casual entertaining outdoors is included in this extremely detailed and carefully executed book. Each of the 240 pages is filled with wonderful stories, tips, and examples that give you everything you could ever want to know.

If you’re looking for a fabulous book that lives up to its title, then check out, French Chic Living: Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful.


French Chic Living; Simple Ways to Make Your Home Beautiful by Florence de Dampierre, published by Rizzoli International Publishing, Inc., ©2015.


Limoges: History and Collecting Basics

If you love France, the romance and elegance of bygone eras and porcelain, Limoges may be the perfect collectible for you.

When you use the word “china” to mean porcelain tea sets and dinnerware, you are keeping alive a linguistic reminder that China used to have the monopoly on high quality (hard-paste) porcelain. That changed in the 1700s, first in Meissen, Germany, and several decades later in Limoges, France.

Beautiful French Limoges Porcelain has always captured hearts and has the ability to inspire. To collectors, the beauty, incredible artwork and exceptional quality of Limoges porcelain surpass any other porcelain in the world. A collection of Limoges, edited and arranged in a contemporary style, is as beautiful as fine art in any interior. Best of all, Limoges porcelain is usable today. Vases hold lush floral bouquets, place settings set a gracious table and teacups are a most welcome indulgence when filled with steaming hot tea.

There is an incredible range of Limoges porcelain to collect, from full dinner services to precisely painted hatpins, from one‐of‐a‐kind hand-painted objects to transfer printed items. No matter what type of Limoges captures your heart, the history of Limoges is enchanting.

The History of Limoges China

The term “Limoges” refers to the hard‐paste porcelain produced by factories in Limoges, France, for over 200 years. The name of the city has become synonymous with the luxury porcelain products made by those factories. Hard‐paste porcelain is known as grand feu in French; it is porcelain that is fired at very high temperatures. Before kaolin clay was discovered in the town of Saint‐Yrieix‐la‐Perche in 1771, the Chinese were the only ones able to produce hard‐paste porcelain. Kaolin clay creates resilient, translucent porcelain, unlike any other porcelain.

The first factory, founded by brothers Massié and Fourneira Grellet, was bought by Louis XVI, King of France, in 1784. The royal court commissioned exquisite dinner services to be made exclusively for the palaces of the King.By the beginning of the 1800s, several private factories began producing the porcelain. The French aristocracy were the main buyers of Limoges, commissioning vast dining services, vases and decorative pieces. At one time there were over 48 factories operating in Limoges.

Often, exports to the U.S. came as “blanks” so amateurs could add their own decoration. Sometimes amateur decorators transferred a design to the plain porcelain, and many were hand-painted by china-painting hobby groups. The quality of the decoration makes a difference in its value as a collectible today.


1. Look for the mark. Almost all Limoges is marked. Each factory had its own production and decorating marks. There are online resources where you can learn about the different Limoges marks. A very few pieces have no mark.

2. Study the quality of the porcelain. genuine piece of Limoges porcelain will be translucent and bright white under the glaze. The glaze should be smooth and hard. Go to a reputable antiques shop to study Limoges pieces; after you’ve seen a few good pieces of Limoges, you will recognize it by the exceptional quality.

3. Look closely at the beauty and skill of the painting. The really good pieces of Limoges were painted by incredibly skilled artists. Many pieces of Limoges were painted and signed (or not) by an amateur artist. To determine whether to add these to your collection, look at the quality of painting. A piece of slightly inferior porcelain that is extremely well painted with a beautiful subject is superior to a piece of Limoges that is better in porcelain quality but poorly painted.

Lidy Baars sells antiques on her inspiring online shop frenchgardenhouse.com