Setting the Table: Three Favorite Styles

Let the festivities begin!

Crisp cold air. Entertaining turns indoors. Family and friends descend. It’s a good time to refresh and review winter holiday recipes. I’ll take a peek at a few of the recipes I’ve set aside to see if any should appear at this year’s gatherings, although most of my Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s faves live inside a red binder I’ve carried around since my very first apartment on Alamo Square in San Francisco.

It’s always fun to premier a new look for a celebratory event, whether in fashion or home décor. And while it’s getting a little late to start thinking about any home renovations or large pieces of furniture before the winter holiday season, there’s still time to schedule a styling session or room staging project.  

And, if your entertaining revolves around the dining table, treat yourself and your home to a few new dining elements - setting the table in whatever way gives you pleasure.

The elements on my table are limited, although that’s likely due to lack of storage in our NYC apartment. We don’t have much room for tablecloths and placemats, or many vases. I love cloth napkins although I don’t like to iron and therefore am always looking for styles that either resist wrinkles or look good with them.

I love my oak table and like to set it off with a simple runner, such as a strip of burlap or netting from a floral supply store. Decorations might be a mix of mismatched candlesticks, small bunches of herbs, or flowers in mugs or glasses. I used to collect silly salt and pepper shakers, but have since trimmed down my collection to turkeys for Thanksgiving and a snowman and woman for Christmas.

When we got married we received some beautiful Italian ceramic dishware, and we mix and match it with our basic, heavy duty daily dishes when there are many people to feed. But I currently have three favorite styles of table settings: basic and simple, artisanal, or vintage funky. If I had more storage space and more time to entertain, I would rotate these styles at our gatherings and meals.

Basic and simple is just that – often mass produced, heavy and white. The goods are available through myriad sources – garage sales, ikea, restaurant suppliers, and home stores like Fishs Eddy (seen in the snaps below). They can be dressed up with a couple of colorful pieces or some wood servers, but honestly, they are one of the best canvases for letting the food be the star. Keep decorations simple (like the herbs mentioned above) and the glassware functional. Focus on your friends and the meal.

Artisanal highlights craft, often of the handmade type. Colors and shapes are subtle and tonal. There's something especially calming and touchable about the products. For these items, I'd like to shop and source in person at stores like Canvas Home, ABC, and Homenature. Keep decor light and mix colors for an elegantly relaxed table. Breath, smile and enjoy.

Forma from  Vietri

Forma from Vietri

Sheesham and plated stainless steel,  Homenature

Sheesham and plated stainless steel, Homenature

Resin pitcher and swivel stick,  Homenature

Resin pitcher and swivel stick, Homenature

Red serving set from  Heath Ceramics

Red serving set from Heath Ceramics

Whipstitch Chocolate Linen from  Vietri

Whipstitch Chocolate Linen from Vietri

Vintage Funky is the ultimate mix and match. I never wanted formal "china" but I'd love to start a collection of loosely matching (or not) vintage tableware to have fun with patterns, sizing, and colors. And for candlelight, an assortment of brass candlesticks. All the opulence of a formal dining experience, with a relaxed hint of humor. If done correctly, nothing will feel precious. Appreciate the eye candy.

Geometric Limoges Plates, at  OKL

Geometric Limoges Plates, at OKL

Porcelain Art Deco plates,  OKL

Porcelain Art Deco plates, OKL

Raspberry and gilt Limoges at  The RealReal

Raspberry and gilt Limoges at The RealReal

Victorian Brass Candlesticks,  OKL

Victorian Brass Candlesticks, OKL

Carved horn at  Viyet

Carved horn at Viyet

Baccarat at  The RealReal

Baccarat at The RealReal

For more information and information on setting the table, contact me or check out my Dine and Gather board.