Inspiration from Istanbul and Ikea: Create a Still-life Centrepiece with a Carafe and Lemons

Rugs, tiles and talismans tantalize, but a carafe “still life” is a budget-friendly idea to recreate at home

Credit: Courtesy Ikea

Still life: glass carafes capped off with fruits and veggies

During a recent trip to Istanbul for a textile exhibition (be sure to read my textile trends article in the September issue of BC Home magazine), there was plenty of design eye-candy at every turn

Design Inspiration from Istanbul

Colourful wool rugs and hand-stitched suzanis lined cobbled sidewalks and stuffed shop windows. Stunning Iznik tiles (like the 20,000 handmade ones that line the inside of the Blue Mosque) decorated with hand-painted tulips (which originate from Turkey, not Holland, by the way) beckoned from boutiques. And the ever-present cobalt blue “evil eye” talismans seemed to stare at me wherever I went.

When travelling, it’s easy to get swayed by such tantalizing items that just might not look right once you bring them home. But, along with a few traditional teacups and a tribal camel bag-turned-rug, I brought home a simple idea that can be recreated for a less than $15 – or even less.>

Still Life: Carafe with Lemon

At a restaurant off Istiklal Caddesi in the heart of Istanbul’s new city, the waiter placed a clear glass water carafe on the table. The stopper: a plump lemon. It was so simple, yet so beautiful in that way that the whole is more than the sum of its parts. I didn’t take a photo, but I found this stunning example (above) of a similar still life composition created for Ikea.

Design Inspiration from Ikea

I’m always surprised how a little tweak here or there can elevate an everyday item. Who hasn’t lined a windowsill with colourful glass bottles? This simple yet sublime vignette marries form and function. After all, most budget-friendly carafes don’t come with stoppers and no one wants to fish a fly out of a carafe.

So raid your veggie drawer, grab a glass carafe, and create your own striking composition. The blue mouth-blown carafes shown above are the PS Bjuda from Ikea, and they retail for the princely sum of $12.99 each.

The lemon and veggies? I’m sure they were chosen from a farmers’ market, the stylist fondling each and every pale turnip to make sure it had that just-right tinge of purple circling its bottom. Can’t you just imagine how crisp and tender that pale lettuce heart is? And have you ever seen an artichoke so picture-perfect! Only nature could pair the faded hues of sage with such painterly strokes.

Too much? For me, the lemon feels right and not contrived. And it’s a natural fit for water (make sure to squeeze some lemon into it!) So the next time you have a party and can’t think of a centrepiece, why not create a sweet still life by placing a couple of carafes on your tableau and topping each with a lemon (or lime).