Monday, March 21, 2011

Table Style: Dressing Up Dinner

When Nick and I were planning our wedding my brother said, "Steph, you better register at a store for gifts or you will end up with three sets of kissing dolphins you can't return."  As I have never been entirely comfortable receiving gifts, telling people what they should get us felt very awkward.  On the other hand, our two room NY apartment doesn't exactly have the mantel space for kissing dolphins.  We went with my brother's advice but made our choices based on our utilitarian needs verses our decorative desires. I think by our decorative desires I mean my decorative desires.

In the past couple of years, I have thought a little more about home decor than I have in the past due to my career change from teaching art to designing.  I have recently been given the opportunity to design a line of table linens which seems to be a very appropriate form of textile design for a foodie, wouldn't you think?  I have spent a couple of days looking at store displays of table settings from high end to low, discovering an array of lavish textures, colors and elegant dishware. I find that my own taste is still utilitarian, and my tendency is not to shop for more but to use found materials and the objects I already have and love in new arrangements.
As much as I like to preach simplicity in design,  I love it when busy patterns some how just work well together.  

This is my only set of matching napkins and at the time I took this picture, this was my only set of placemats (they are turned upside down in order to coordinate better with the table).   I recently purchased a set in blue chendi ($1.99 at Bed Bath and Beyond) when I noticed how many objects and textiles I have that incorporate blue.  I don't have anything that matches the red linen napkins (can't even remember were those came from) so I filled a bowl with red apples as a center piece.
The textile used in the center is not an actual kitchen textile.  It is just a beautiful piece of fabric from my talented Aunt Lucy's sewing room.  She was teaching me how to sew purses from decorative scraps of fabric but I never had the heart to butcher this one.  It was too beautiful a piece for my sad sewing attempts.

I think food should be the table's centerpiece.  I am not a fan of straining my neck over a tree of flowers in dinner conversation.  The blue patterned fabric in the center is also from my aunt's sewing room.

I don't think you have to shell out a ton of bucks for a fresh look.  Which is good, because I don't have a lot of bucks myself.  I am a believer in buying only what you love and everything wil fall into place beautifully, whether it matches or not.


  1. beautiful post...hardly any of us have too many bucks :P and cleverness is in making all beautiful with a few monies...

    i'd sent you an email and can you get back to me on's for tomorrow...i'm leaving station and in the middle of too many things...

  2. I'm a big fan of using fabric from IKEA as table runners, but I do have trouble with spilling stuff on them. I actually got this runner from the MoMA design store ( because it looks like fabric but it's nylon--therefore making it easy to clean.

    I really like this fabric combination--it's a little offbeat but nowhere near the absurdity of a Sandra Lee "tablescape"--just a dash of visual interest that doesn't take away from the food.

  3. Oh I love that one! They also sell it at the Conran Shop. Easy to clean and I am a big fan of laser cut designs.

    I had to check out what a Sandra Lee tablescape was. Wow! That is intense.