Amber Tiede prides herself on straying from the traditional. The married mother of four relies on the help of her close-knit family to run Riverwood Gardens, a flower farm in Osgoode that provides fresh and locally-grown florals for any occasion.
With a knack for applying her artistic talent to the earth’s bounty, Amber says that she decided to approach her Homes for the Holidays project, in support of Hospice Care Ottawa, with that natural style all the while keeping some specific goals in mind. Greely homeowner Diane Craig provided the dining table to flaunt Amber’s ethereal creations, and thus vintage china was quickly decided on as the focal point. As Amber explains, “We’re trying to inspire people to use what they have, especially as the pandemic drags on and getting new things is going to be harder for a while. So, we’re trying to encourage people to use things like grandma’s set of china.” And not to worry if items aren’t all part of the same set. “Everything doesn’t have to match perfectly to be beautiful,” notes Amber.
Ottawa’s autumn was in full swing, and the city was draped in its moody seasonality, when Diane Craig’s mother ventured out on a mission to purchase a new set of china, on October 30, 1976. After bringing her choice selection home from McIntosh & Watts, she was compelled to repeat the process all over again when her husband was dissatisfied with the pattern. The subsequent choice, however, was a success, and the $100 Wedgewood “Columbia Blue” has remained in the family ever since. The “fancy dishes,” as Diane lovingly refers to them, were brought out only for special occasions when the whole family was together, especially since they required handwashing and couldn’t be cleaned swiftly in the dishwasher. Two long years of pandemic distancing has seen the precious china gathering layers of dust, and Diane says she’s thrilled at the opportunity to brush off the cobwebs and present them in a newfound way, as she gathers with her close loved ones once again.
A second theme that Amber was emphatic about presenting with Diane’s tablescape décor was bringing the outdoors in. Amber explains, “We often specialize in using items foraged locally, like branches, bows from trees, pinecones, moss. I’ve done centrepieces literally out of dead grass from a ditch and rocks and things that you find that you wouldn’t necessarily envision as beautiful, but when you can put it on a table in a home it becomes art.” Although the styles of the two women land on opposite ends of the spectrum—Diane’s home exudes a clean and modern sleekness; Amber’s is an older home with a more eclectic charm—Amber admits that the challenge of working on a project that is out of her comfort zone was ultimately extremely rewarding. Diane’s traditional dining table offered the ideal backdrop for bringing the two styles together.After living cautiously throughout the pandemic, she’s looking forward to taking advantage of the display and will finally be hosting a celebration, a luxury that many did not foresee this holiday season.
Event tickets: hospicecareottawa.ca