Six tablescapes offer a range of attitudes toward festive style.
The holidays will be very low key at our house. It’s been a somber twelve months filled with family loss and illness that hasn’t left me feeling super celebratory. But the calendar has its own reality which should never be ignored, plus I’ve learned that making the effort to create a delicious, convivial meal – served on a beautifully set table – is always a welcome mood changer. So along with planning at least two special dinners (I may just go all out with lobster for New Years!) I’ve been gathering ideas for tables that would definitely give me a lift.
Modestly Floral [top] – As someone with a mostly white garden with dashes of lavender and blue, it’s no surprise that white orchids intermixed with sprigs of blue berries feel soothing and appealing yet modestly luxurious. English designer Jane Churchill used these centerpieces on a table set with celadon china and gold-rim goblets – a combination that manages to be festive but informal.
Antique and Modern - Setting the table with droolworthy antique china is always a gorgeous idea. It has a certain look and while I might enjoy classic indigo and orange handpainted plates equally well on the dining room wall, it’s inspiring to see them mixed with contemporary gilded pumpkin place cards and classic cobalt blue crystal. If you love this look, you’d enjoy a browse through a shop on Madison Avenue called Bardith (though it never looks open) which has sold high-end antique china as long as I can remember.
Tailored Table - Place plates with leopard-print rims are something of a statement, particularly when they are layered with white wedding band china and topped with a black-and-gold Art Deco geometric. It’s a surprisingly masculine look, helped along by striped napkins and Deco-style flatware.
Gold & Roses – As balancing act tables go, this one is decidedly un-Christmas-y while also managing to remind of us the holiday with a green and red theme. It takes a little explanation. Rather than fresh-cut roses used for centerpieces, the flowers unexpectedly appear to be part of the tablecloth! Actually they are paper placemats from a dollar store which anchor gold-camouflage pattern dishes by fashion designer Jean-Charles de Castelbajac. Alongside is vermeil (gold-plated) bamboo pattern flatware dating to the 1960s along with gold-embroidered Thai napkins and French gold-tone lattice tumblers. Bronze sculptures of ballerinas stand in for floral centerpieces — a nod to art and a host with a sense of humor.
Gem Tones - The great William Yeoward creates a plummy mood for a Christmas lunch table with china and glassware of his own design, including amethyst Isabella amethyst hock glasses and Amy goblets mixed with clear trumpet vases filled with white amaryllis, paper white narcissus, tulips, tuberose and purple tulips (way in back).
Simply Organic – Wooden plates, hand-thrown pottery bowls and simple black place mats play off a hedge of tulips in simple vases that extends the length of a table for ten. Birch-wrapped votive candles add to the organic appeal and modest simplicity.
(Source: Jane Churchill, Lonny Mag, House & Garden, Town & Country)