Thursday, April 2, 2015


All set?
DIFFA's Dining By Design event was
recently held in Manhattan (above).
While this fair haired boy loves to set
a nice table I prefer to dine upon one
based in reality. A table setting should
entertain one's guests yet never usurp
what one sups. Whether in our kitchen,
sun or dining room I try to make each
meal special. After seeing some of my
tables posted here and on Facebook -
many have asked for hints. And given
Passover starts Friday and Easter is
Sunday I thought I'd help set things up.
Color your world
I start with a color. Usually that's
decided by the table cloth or china
service. My Mother rarely strayed
from staid white or ecru. While
quite elegant, neutrality can get
rather dull. I own an assortment
of French jacquard table linens.
Not only chic - their patterns and
tones offer a myriad of options to
build upon. If you want to make it
more casual, placemats are an easy
option. Just make sure you dust
your table before setting it!
Center stage
Somehow flowers make any table
even more special. I love posies
but don't like the cost or output
of most florists. Hence I figured
out how to build fairly elegant
bouquets out of basic grocer flora.
For about thirty dollars I create
a spectacular arrangement that
even in Lewistown would cost
over one hundred at the florist
with half the blossoms. Stick to
one color and vary the size of
the blooms. Go ahead... try it!
All mixed up
As one may recall, our great wall
of china houses roughly seventy
dish patterns and over forty crystal
and colored glass options. Why do
I need so much? Well... I mix and
match. First I select a color palette.
Then the table cloth. Next I arrange
the posies and then build a setting
from the dinner plate on. Layer by
layer I create a mood and those bits
and pieces come together to create
a perfect setting. Why not dig out
grannie's china and get started?!
Light my fire
After a long day we all need a little
help. Hence it's all about lighting.
Candles cast a glow that's magical.
And while I don't suggest you dine
in the dark - the moodier the better.
I have a large array of candlesticks.
Sometimes I position four around
the centerpiece. Other times three
of varying heights on either side.
Classic blown glass hurricanes not
only make a statement but protect
against drafts that cause drips. And
please... lots and lots of votives!
Side saddle
With one color or palette as a guide
almost anything can be combined
to create the perfect setting. Yet as
important is how one arranges one's
guests. My mix and match theory
continues to apply. As host I'm in
control and carefully plan who sits
where. The art of conversation
requires strategic placement the
more talkative versus dull. Side
by side they suddenly prove that
two are better than one. So why
not, dish it out and enjoy dinner!

Just desserts...
Following are a few more images with notes. Hope this helps inspire you!

Shown left, this coffee table
arrangement consists of tea
and standard roses in the
same or similar tones. All
cut to the same length and
mixed up a bit!

Shown below, multi-sized
varieties in a mix of similar
tones work deliver a bold
pop of color. However any
tone will do. Works equally
well with white! 

To the right - Proof that you can
set a lovely table without flowers.
This imprompteau family dinner
featured a large hurricane and
candle stick as it's centerpiece. 

Below is shown another albeit
smaller and colored hurricane
shade. This time it's surrounded
by four diminutive arrangements
of my favorites... tiny miniature
white carnations.

One doesn't have to be flora
agnostic. For Thanksgiving
I mixed posies, fruit, and nuts
to create a seasonal statement.
For formal occasions such as
the table shown left, I at times
prefer more sedate tones. 

Believe it or not, even I opt to
not mix it up. The table below
features a Spode pattern that's
busy enough. However I could
not resist a mix of glassware
and votives based on the tones
of the colorful tablecloth.

To the right is the same pattern
on a dramatically different
foundation. Simply changing
out the dominant color can
alter the impact of the same
old stuff. Why not try it?

With apologies for my limited
skills as a photographer, the
table below reinforces that a 
dark and dramatic surface is
a wow in and of itself!