Though open home concepts are the name of the game these days, that just doesn’t work in our 197-year-old farmhouse.
I have always felt that a formal dining room is a bit of a luxury — a separation from the kitchen, where, let’s face it, company always ends up anyway. My dining room table is always my blank canvas for table-setting designs. In fact, any table is a perfect canvas.
I don’t always wait for special occasions to create a beautiful table setting, in part for two reasons: 1) I find it incredibly satisfying to walk by a crafted table setting; nine times out of 10, I smile at each glimpse and 2) when the table is set, it seems to garner a little respect and is less likely to be the dumping ground for mail, old homework papers and all-around junk accumulation.
I tend to think of designing a table setting like a puzzle; work on it a little bit here and there. Add pieces where I left off. Pattern on pattern, standing back smiling when two completely different patterns work well together. A “who knew, but it works.” And, too, it may be just me, but I feel food tastes better when I’m sitting at a pretty table. I’m more relaxed, certainly, and more inspired.
For the spring holidays approaching, I thought I would share a few ideas for you to apply to your table setting, and it starts with shopping the house. I can probably count on two fingers how many true “tablecloths” I have. Though I use a type of tablecloth often, if I see a fabric pattern I feel would look good on the table, I’ll use it. This includes scrap fabric I have on hand, clean bed sheets, curtain panels, and heck, I’ve even used a drop cloth before. My point is, if you like it, use it.
On my spring holiday table, I used an ikat fabric I found at a fabric store. (A tip here, buying fabric and simply ironing a hem to hide the raw edge, you pay considerably less than you would for said tablecloth and it’s basically now custom to your standards.) I pulled out some white plates (another tip, Christmas Tree Store has classic white plates that are easy on the wallet) and I layered a delicate floral plate I found at Marshall’s on top. Pattern on pattern is the name of the game, and adds a chic whimsy to this table setting. A pink Depression glass fruit bowl adds the top element, still allowing the floral plate to shine and complement the ikat fabric. Referring back to my Manners column, drinks go on the right, and I have water glasses and champagne flutes in place waiting for the beverages to be poured.
Down the center of the table, clear glass candlesticks add subtle ambiance, and the wheat grass plants found in the produce section of the grocery store are an inexpensive way to add more color and scream, “Think Spring!” Allergic to grass? Green plants will do the trick, too. Small peace plants would be lovely.
Mix it up, I say. Don’t feel you must run out and buy a tablecloth; use what you have. Repurpose. After all, that’s what DIY is all about. Even if your menu is a casual one, take-out never looked so good served on a beautifully set table. Get your groove on and create a modern mix table you and your guests will welcome. Follow my tips and you’re guaranteed to have a stunning spring holiday table setting.
Brooke Fedigan is the DIY Dutchess. Contact her at email@example.com
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