If you’ve been following my blog, you know I adore tablescapes (see a few of mine here, here, and here) and pretty table decor. My love for tablescapes also means I love weddings, events, and parties…all perfect excuses for delightful table decor. For this reason, celebrity event designer and wedding planner, Matthew Robbins inspires me. He’s Martha Stewart’s go-to when it comes to planning a wedding, and he recently published his first book this year, Inspired Weddings. It’s resting on my coffee table, along with a few of my other favorite books.
What I love most about this book is that Matthew discusses how to choose one meaningful object, and then how to center your design around that chosen piece (ie: a Portuguese bead as shown below). He literally hunts for materials that complement the object, and the invitation, flowers, and overall event mirror the meaningful piece the couple selected. I think this technique can (and should!) be applied to interiors as well. Buy something you absolutely love, and then center your design around that piece. If you have a beautiful table you’ve inherited, start there. Build around the pieces you love, not the items you recently bought at Target just to “fill space” or use for a few years. A well-curated home takes time, and every piece has meaning, just like every item in the weddings Matthew plans.
With that said, Matthew’s stopping by the blog today (yay!!!) to give us a few tablescape tips. Take it away, Matthew!
- Think outside of traditional holiday color palettes. You aren’t limited to red and green or blue and white! Consider citrus tones with evergreen, silver or mercury glass with grey and lush fern tones or festive gold tones with classic ivory accents.
- Incorporate food and festive drinks into your table design. Fill a unique tray or low, decorative bowl with gorgeous breads for the table as part of the decor. Place artfully arranged side dishes or condiments in gorgeous vessels to complete your design. Choose your wine selection carefully and present a delicious red in a fabulous decanter on the table. Start with a champagne toast as a decorative and joyful beginning to your meal. You can find great prosecco options to replace pricier champagne if you are watching your budget.
- If you have a long table add a beautiful layer by placing a decorative runner down the length of the table. This will ground your centerpiece decor and will add depth and interest to the design. Coordinate your dinner napkins with the runner. Runners and napkins are easy to make or buy ready made dinner napkins and customize by embellishing with a beautiful ribbon attached as a finishing edge or a monogram. I also enjoy attaching a small hang tag as a place card or a little holiday message for each guest to enjoy as they take their seat.
- Pull from your existing collectibles and create something more personal and eclectic for your table centerpiece. If you collect vintage holiday ornaments you can arrange these in silver bowls surrounded by candles or use holiday candies as centerpiece decor next to very small clusters of holly foliage or white carnations. Give your guests something to talk about by placing conversation starters on the table. I like to do this by placing a small treat on each dinner napkin like a sprig of something seasonal, a special message or an edible treat.
- Avoid things that look too contrived or straight from the box. Find packaged elements such as simple, colorful globe ornaments or cute little tabletop reindeer and do something unusual to personalize the decor. You don’t want your holiday decor to look as it you just plucked it from a box or bag and dropped it on the table. Make it personal and unique!
- Don’t get too crazy with candles! As much as I love candles everywhere remember to place these carefully and artfully on your table. Remember too many candles brings lots of additional heat to your dining room and to the table. Also, as you place candles before they are lit consider their location once they are burning. If too close to a flower or piece of foliage you can have a small disaster at the table within minutes. You don’t want your guests to feel afraid to reach for their wine glass because their hand might be scorched by the sea of candles clustered near their place setting.
- If you are doing family style food on the table, don’t just choose any old bowl or tray for presenting the menu. Consider each dish as part of your table scape and even consider the food as part of the decor. You don’t want sea of brown, starchy casseroles ruining your beautiful table. Think about vegetables with great color and dishes that incorporate beautiful ingredients.
- Don’t make the process too complicated. You don’t need hundreds of ideas on the table to make it beautiful. Keep it simple and allow a well edited color palette or one seasonal theme to direct your design.
- Don’t get too fussy! You can make a great statement with simple materials. Your table scape will look like a piece of art if you allow each piece to play a role in the decor. Choose your flatware, napkins, glasses, candles, etc. as part of that story rather than just an afterthought. If you have a limited selection think about how to work your existing inventory into the decor so you aren’t breaking your budget by buying too many new service pieces or place settings. Sometimes a simple charger plate or place mat can dress up your ordinary, everyday china beautifully.
Now, who’s inspired to get their tablescape on?