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Although it was a sad occasion that would take us out of town this time around, we still enjoyed our stay in Delray Beach, Florida. As usual, the lovely surroundings were filled with plenty of design inspiration.

Following the Valentine’s Day memorial service that was held for my stepfather, the dinner at my mother’s clubhouse featured tables skillfully set by the talented staff who took her holiday-themed decorations to another level. Their clever ideas included the red metallic shreds also known as tinsel grass (found at party supply stores) loosely arranged in heart shapes that made a colorful statement.

Though I’m still having a hard time finding the white paper napkins with a separate slit for each utensil that were at each place setting, my mother bought them as part of a packaged set at her local Costco in Florida. Decorative napkins were artfully positioned inside the wine glasses, while balloons became the centerpiece.

Three smaller tables were conveniently set up for food, beverages and desserts to help control the traffic flow.

Back at our hotel, the giant sandcastle on display in the lobby again paid a lovely tribute to the popular oceanfront setting.

Our room reminded me how little we need to be comfortable each day. Among the functional touches was a pair of leather ottomans by the entrance that can act as the perfect luggage rack or provide extra seating.

This would be a great addition to the foot of a bed in a guest room. Most ottomans are nicer to look at than your average luggage rack and they’re able to serve more than one purpose.

Food and drink presentations never cease to amaze me, especially in a vacation destination where menu items tend to take on an artistic tone, even at some of the more casual eateries. The tasty shrimp tacos I had for dinner one night got me thinking about their sturdy holders.

The stainless steel separators could easily hold anything from bills to business cards or file folders. Many of the styles that are available for purchase cost only a few dollars each.

Then there were the infamous poolside rum runners at the hotel that include a test tube filled with an extra shot of rum, which taste as good as they look. Test tubes could be a fun alternative for a wine tasting or a floral display.

A stop at my mom’s condo taught me that buying well from the beginning often gets you something that will stand the test of time, which is not easy to accomplish in the world of interiors. This is the case for her custom built-ins throughout that are unique to this day.

No matter how nice it feels to experience a change of scenery, especially going from a cold climate to a warm ocean breeze, there’s still no place like home. Upon our return, I fell asleep as soon as my head hit that familiar pillow, because there’s nothing like being in your own bed reunited with your beloved pet.

Jeanine Matlow is a Metro Detroit interior decorator turned freelance writer specializing in stories about interior design. You can reach her at jeaninematlow@earthlink.net.

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