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Marsha Hunt and Bridget Connell, co-owners of Haute Flower Boutique, set out to create a tabletop that radiated the feeling of a sultry summer night in the city with an eclectic, urban vibe. And it didn’t take them long to realize their ideal destination: Architectural Antiques’ turn-of-the-century warehouse in Northeast Minneapolis’ Arts District.

Emily Donovan, event coordinator of the antique haven that also serves as a vintage venue for gatherings, gave Hunt and Connell the same treatment all her clients get-free reign of the store. Inspiration came easy for the designers, who found themselves surrounded by thousands of antique pieces arranged in artistic disarray. "We wanted to create an island of brilliantly colored florals underneath the warm glow of dozens of shimmering chandeliers," says Hunt.

That plan was taken to a whole new level when they came across one game-changing item: a painted metal zebra that was originally used on a carnival ride, most likely from the late 1940s, according to Donovan. "It was love at first sight when we saw the zebra," Hunt says. "The focal point of a tablescape is usually the floral centerpiece, but we loved the idea of taking this one-of-a-kind antique piece and building our floral design around it."

The Details
Everything flowed around the zebra. Hunt and Connell created a saddle of pavé-style orange flowers for a jolt of color, and then added flowers to the ends of the table to balance the citrus pigment.

Crystal chandeliers, including one from 1905 that stretched 4 feet in diameter, hung over a custom-built harvest table. Brass candlestands and teal blue insulator caps were used to create small flower vases for each set. Other items from Architectural Antiques include a wire birdcage, a round white trefoil architectural fragment from an 1880s Gothic door surround and miscellaneous pieces of glazed terracotta, originally from the exterior of a building. Crystal doorknob sets, antique brass door plates and letterpress letters were used to spice up the place settings. "The details were chosen for their aesthetic value, as well as for being great conversation starters among dinner guests," says Hunt, who adds that the nearby Carrara marble washstand was intended as an innovative way to serve iced drinks.

Après Party and Tent Rental provided the black charger plates, clear glass plates, flatware, goblets, white napkins, white crocodile patterned table runner and mahogany Chiavari chairs and white chair pads.

Depending on the host, Connell thinks this tablescape could accommodate a rehearsal dinner, anniversary party or even a brainstorming session. "Oftentimes, I think we forget that we are constantly being inspired by our surroundings," she says. "What better way to get the creativity flowing than to immerse yourself into an environment where creative décor is the backdrop. A setting like this would be for people that want to explore something new and different-to think entirely out of the box. Life is short. Have fun.

1. The building that is now the AAA Four Diamond-rated Kimpton Grand Hotel Minneapolis was originally constructed in 1915 as the Minneapolis Athletic Club—a high-end athletic and business club. The Grand Hotel opened in 2000 after a major renovation, and Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants took over management in 2010 and underwent a full renovation that completed in 2011.


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