Lili Mazzei’s love for collecting timeless pieces led to a carefully crafted shop. Plus, get her best tips for setting a gracious table this holiday season.
By Leah Berry | Photography by John Michael Simpson
Growing up in Venezuela, Lili Mazzei spent much of her childhood finding inspiration in those around her. Her grandfather and uncle were antique collectors, and her grandmother was a painter and interior designer. Once she was old enough to have a refined eye, Lili often spent her time perusing estate sales, flea markets and auctions, searching for unique additions for her home. It wasn’t until she received several requests to shop for family and friends that Lili turned her hobby into a business, founding The Blue Jay Home in Colorado in 2020. The online store features her curated collection of finds – she started with antique and vintage dishes that she already had, but soon evolved into including home decor, modern pieces and gifts. Lili’s motto, “If I don’t like it, I don’t sell it,” means you’ll find primarily blue and white pieces – hence the business’ name – since she believes the color palette is timeless.
These days, Lili goes everywhere in search of stock – she brings many items back from travels, estate sales and flea markets, and some are products that owners reach out to sell to her directly. “Even the days I come back with nothing are fun,” she says. Lili believes every piece on her website is reasonably priced, in fact, a fraction of what you would pay for the same product at an antique shop. Though most of her favorite dinnerware made the cross-country move to North Carolina in 2021, Lili took a break from The Blue Jay Home for about a year to renovate her home. Now rooted firmly in the South, Lili occasionally hosts pop-ups at The Carolina Inn, and this year, she started her studies of interior design at Meredith College, a lifelong passion and a natural extension of her interests.
Her products have found a home all over the world – including Latin America and Canada – and are always selected and shipped with care. “I really take the time to be sure that every piece is delivered in perfect condition and made with love,” she says. “You can feel it when you open the box.”
Lili’s Tips for Setting a Gracious Table:
1 Start by asking, “What occasion is this?” Whether it’s Thanksgiving, Christmas or a dinner party, you want to create a table to capture the essence of the season. For this table specifically, Lili chose pieces that reflect the mood for winter and fall.
2 English flatware with stag horn handles adorn feather place settings that Lili made by hand. These pieces reflect the chill of the hunting season and fall.
3 Use classic, timeless dinnerware. Here, the brown design around the rim pairs well with the season, but can be used in a variety of contexts, with different colored details.
4 The charger plates are by Bordallo Pinheiro, a famous Portuguese maker. The pop of green ties in Christmas but still keeps the setting autumn-toned.
5 The tortoiseshell glasses are particularly apropos to fall, but cowrie shell salt and pepper shakers can be used year-round.
6 Play with colors! You can set up a totally different table using different chargers, place mats and tablecloths. Darker, muted colors are perfect for fall and winter. Summer lends itself to bright colors – blues, reds, yellows, greens and whites.
7 Use flowers and fruits as centerpieces to add more colors and tie in the season. Here, pomegranates pair well with the green chargers. Lili even used greenery from her backyard!
8 The crystal glasses are from Lili’s wedding registry, and most of the table settings were bought secondhand.
9 Think simple at first if you’re just starting out. Use white dinnerware, and build a setting from there, adding more colors. It’s all about creativity and combination!
10 There really are no rules in setting a table. “You just have to show yourself,” Lili says.
Bonus Tips: How to be the Hostess With the Mostess
1 Every time you set a table, you’re saying, “You are important to me.” Show your guests that you care by creating a calm and relaxed atmosphere. You don’t want people to feel like you’rein a hurry, so have everything ready in advance.
2 Keep nuts, chocolates and cheeses at home to throw together in case a last-minute gathering arises. The best parties are the ones you don’t plan!
3 To make people feel comfortable and welcome, offer gummies or chocolates in little bowls on the table at the end of a meal. Not everyone wants to have a piece of pie or cake and would rather stay at the table, drinking wine and being merry.