Stylist Tips for Setting a Beautiful Table
By far one of my favorite posts (and most popular) was last year's post where I interviewed some great designers and stylists who offered their tips and tricks for setting a beautiful table. I loved seeing the creativity and beauty in all of the tablescapes they created. Even better than beautiful and inspiring pictures were the practical, helpful and achievable suggestions for recreating these looks at home. So, as the holidays are once again quickly approaching, I thought it would be fun to invite some friends to create some new beautiful tablescapes this year and to offer their take on how to pull it all together. This group of women are not only extremely talented and accomplished but I chose them this year with a common theme in mind - their love of vintage. My own love of vintage runs deep and so I couldn't be more excited to share their stunning photos and fantastic tips with you!
Kayla - K Sweigart Collection https://www.instagram.com/ksweigartcollection/
Kayla is a busy business woman who runs not only her own vintage site, K Sweigart Collection but she is also a partner in a beautiful retail collective, The Little Green Door in Columbia, SC along with Ansley of Shop Turner and Moss whom you may remember from last year's table setting post! I adore Kayla's style and wish I could afford to buy every single one of her beautiful finds! I love her more is more approach to styling a table - read more in her tips below.
I love to live by the motto “more is more and less is a bore” which applies to my tablescapes as well. Extend your centerpiece down the full length of your table. It does not have to only be in the true center of the table. Work around one focal point in the center and then add additional smaller elements to sprawl from end to end. Just make sure it’s balanced. Here I used one larger centerpiece, then incorporated smaller pieces like candle holders, citrus, feathers, and even china to extend down the length of the table. This allows your eyes to move from one end to the other and not to focus directly just in the center.
Mix it up. I’m never going to be that matchy-matchy girl…Give me all the things and all the details. I love to mix things up, and that applies to my tables as well. The more colors, pattern play, layers, and textures the better. Don’t stick to just one or the other. Why not use both? Let them mingle. Mix the colors of the glassware. Mix the flatware patterns. Use more than one china pattern. Use two totally different textures on fabrics for the runner and table skirt. And while we are at it, throw in fresh and faux. Nothing here matches but, when you put it all together it creates one cohesive look. You might surprised when looking at all the things you own. They all have similar characteristics already, so when it comes time to mix it up it will be easier than you think.
Don’t be afraid to play while gathering the look for your table. Break those formal table setting rules. Push the boundaries and show off your personality through your table. There are no limits. I’m a big fan of bold color and birds, so using these in subtle ways gave my table a personal touch. Remember there’s no wrong way to set a table. It’s simply there to share a meal with people you love.
Jessica - Curated and Company https://www.instagram.com/curatedandcompany/
Jessica is the brains and beauty behind Curated and Company, one of my favorite Instagram accounts both for beautiful vintage finds but also inspiration. She is an Instagram friend who I've also had the pleasure of meeting in real life (along with her adorable daughter!). I love her bright, happy approach to design and she finds the most colorful vintage pieces of anyone I've seen. And for those who feel that weekly Instagram sales just aren't enough and they need more Curated and Company, you're in luck! She's recently opened a booth in Raleigh at the newly opened Shops at 1700 so if you're local, be sure to check her out!
Much like good collected interiors, table tops should be an eclectic mix of vintage finds and newer purchases. I love to pair new chargers with vintage or antique dinner plates and glassware. It is a great way to mix in unexpected colors and to show off your personality. Do not be afraid to pull in mix-matched sets, such as the antique Minton saucers and Blue Willow dinner plates that you see here. For this occasion, I paired my favorite set of vintage tortoise shell glasses with an antique set of green stemware. If you love it, it always has a place on your table!
Texture, texture, texture! Adding texture gives your tablescape depth and visual interest. A great way to add texture to your table is through the use of linens. My favorite place to shop for fun lines are estate sales and thrift stores because I love the whimsical vibe that vintage linens exude. But if hitting up the early morning estate sales isn't your jam, there are also some great online companies that offer semi-custom linens in fresh prints (Instagram is a great place to find such companies and see examples of their brand!). If you still can't find what you are looking for online, do not be afraid to visit your local fabric store and sew (or in my case, ask a talented friend to do it for you!) custom napkins and toppers. This is also a great way to tie in your mismatched china and make the tabletop look cohesive. Placemats are another area where you can experiment with texture. Here, I added rattan placemats to help balance out the formality of the floral arrangement. Have fun mixing and matching different textures to set a table that is uniquely you!
I'm a firm believer that every table should include something unexpected- it's a great way to get the conversation started! Whether it's an antique champs bucket holding a gorgeous floral arrangement, a vintage pair of malachite candlesticks, a collection of your favorite nutcrackers, or blue and white ginger jars- adding a layer of something unexpected adds instant character and an element of whimsy to your table. Throw the rules out the window and incorporate things that you love when setting your holiday table. It's the best way to share the gift of YOU with those you love most!
Jessica - Park and Division https://www.instagram.com/parkanddivision/
My friend Jessica Rhodes is currently living a dream of mine: She and her husband (and their two young boys) just recently purchased a historic home and are in the process of renovating it. I love that they are modernizing the home while taking great care to restore it keeping its historic beauty intact and staying true to the house's style. Their project is NOT for the faint of heart and they are investing probably just as much sweat equity into it as I'm sure they are financially but it is going to be a STUNNING home for their family. And Jessica is just the woman for the job! She's got a great eye and a love of history and vintage. I love how she effortlessly makes the old feel new again.
Take inspiration from the season - and it doesn't have to be themed. I've been feeling so inspired this year by the colors of Autumn. Stunning rich golds and reds and oranges against the pale dried cornstalks and rich brown earth, with a few leftover green leaves, all with the backdrop of the bright blue October sky. Those colors inspired this table - it doesn't have to be as literal as pumpkins and cornucopias (although I love those tables too!).
Shop vintage for quality table setting supplies. Estate sales are full of gorgeous silver pieces, luxurious linen tablecloths and napkins, large sets of china - a lot of people don't use those things any more which means they all end up in estate sales or at thrift stores. Take advantage and build your own collection! Everything on this table was found at estate sales and thrift stores.
Think outside the box for tablescape supplies and shop your home! I've used larger fabric scraps from projects as tablecloths, ribbons down the center of the table as a runner, and a cluster of blue and white ceramics from all over my house as a centerpiece. Look around and be creative with what you already own - it's really fun and you'll create a table that's 100% original.
Look in your backyard or on a nature walk for floral arrangements - even something as simple as long grass from a field in a clear vase can look pretty and dramatic. I love cutting a few branches from our maple trees for an organic centerpiece in any season.
Jennifer - Haute Down South https://www.instagram.com/hautedownsouth/
It's too bad that we moved away from Northern Virginia before I met Jennifer! I have admired her from the minute I stumbled against her Instagram account, Haute Down South. She's the epitome of Southern traditional style in my book. I love how her personal vignettes are so full of soul, texture and warmth. Lucky for everyone, she's recently opened her own brick and mortar fine home furnishings store, Southerly House AND offers design services in Middleburg, VA. Read on to find out Jennifer's great tips for setting a beautiful table!
I love creating a “natural table runner”. Here I’ve used simple magnolia stems that I clipped from our tree outside, but there are so many possibilities. A few of my favorites to use during the holidays are pinecones, bittersweet and evergreen. They are lovely on their own as a runner, but you can also tuck in other seasonal things like pumpkins, pomegranates, orange pomanders or just votives.
Glassware in seasonal colors adds a little flair, and it can stand alone or mix in with clear stemware. For Thanksgiving, I love to use these amber hued goblets. Choose colors that will accentuate either you’re china pattern or your centerpiece.
Blue and white is my favorite neutral, and it’s a workhorse on the holiday table. A few timeless classics are Juliska Country Estate, Mottahedeh Blue Canton, and of course Blue Willow. They are perfect for a casual dinner but can elevate to a multi course meal, and these patterns are beautiful layered with other pieces.
The holidays are upon us so get going on your table settings! Armed with these inspiring tablescapes photos and practical tips, I hope you can set a beautiful table for your friends and family this year, too!