It’s really determined by what we're celebrating or laying a table for. From there, I usually find one thing whether it be linens, plates or even better, ceramics! that speak to me for that theme and then let that drive the direction.
What is your first step in creating a tablescape?
Theme. Always a theme and a feeling.
Kind of like art, tablescapes can and should invoke a feeling for your guests.
Must haves for every table?
Great glasses - I always used to laugh at my mother when she talked about the rim of a glass but now that I am older, it is the first thing I do - how does a glass feel in my hand and how will my drink taste coming from it?
No table is complete without...
Something that either confuses or makes your guest laugh---no better conversation starter.
Biggest don't when creating a tablescape?
Overthink the design too much or overwhelm the table to the point the guest can’t enjoy their meal. Does anyone want to eat with a flower dangling in their plate?
What's the most common mistake you see people make that are trying to set their table?
Where to place the silverware and every time I can’t help but think of Julia Roberts in the movie, Pretty Woman. We should all attend a crash etiquette course.
What's your favorite way to present cloth napkins? Napkin rings, folded, something else?
Ooh, fun question! Well, my grandmother used to tell me napkins should never have to be weighed down (i.e. put a plate or a fork on top of) or if you did, it wasn’t a quality napkin---in other words it was paper. Ha! I laugh thinking about how that has influenced me and my napkin presentation. We always use cloth napkins in my house and I am going to take the politician answer and say it depends on the formality of the party and the needs of the table with regard to presentation. Napkin rings add an extra flare and sometimes that’s needed, folded flat (you will never see a swan or restaurant style upwards fold from this girl) is always clean and classic. I am doing a gather pleated napkin on a table this weekend because the scheme needed a little more than a clean fold but not as much weight that comes from a napkin ring.
How can you make sure you're not using scented flowers? What flowers do you recommend?
It's funny you ask because it is very interesting how a sense of smell really can be inhibiting on a meal especially one with particular foods. That being said though, with as many social events as I’ve had the chance to go to, not one have I been overwhelmed by the flowers. Generally, I will leave lilies for the church and not for the table because they really have a strong scent but other than that I look to the theme and the feeling I want to invoke and let that lead the flower choice. For example, a Southern Summer Supper in May/June, despite the smell you better believe Magnolias will be on the table. More formal dinner? Roses for sure (any garden rose being a favorite). More playful? Tulips, Poppies, Zinnias, sprouting vines like honeysuckle. More feminine and sophisticated? Anemones, Ranunculus, Orchids. My favorites? Peonies, daffodils, dahlias and every sprig of greenery I can cut from the yard. Also, don’t forget herbs can be a great thing to put on the table or mix with arrangements especially if they tie back to what’s in the meal. Italian dinner? Run pots of basil down the center.
What is the best way to give a table some artistic flair?
Hands down some form of ceramic—a beautifully thrown plate, goblet, vase, place card holder, or bug…yes I said bug (ceramic bugs are a fabulous conversation starter and one that could raise an eyebrow. Raised eyebrows always lead to a more fun night). Ceramics add warmth and a caring personal touch to the table and what else could a hostess want for her guests?
Love Janie's look? Make it yours!
Photography: Ellen Cannon Photography (@ellencannonphotography)
Wine glasses: Estelle Colored Glasses from Chateau en Mae (@shopchateauenmae)
Plates: Lewis Gifts (@lewisgifts)
Art: Genia Rosenblum (@made_rva)
Jewelry: Janie Dickson (@janeallendeaign)