The Inspired Table: 5 tips for designing a successful tabletop
by Amy Beth Cupp Dragoo of ABCD Designs
I don’t know about you, but this stretch from mid-January until the first glimpses of Spring are always the toughest for me. This past Saturday we had a 30% chance of snow in the forecast only to have eight inches of white, fluffy snow fall by noon. It was at that moment I knew that I’d best lift up our spirits with a cheery tabletop at dinnertime.
To keep the kitchen looking organized, I always keep a tray next to my kitchen sink that includes counter top cleaner, dish soap, hand lotion (Omgosh, how cool is it that Good Home Co. offers custom mixed products?!) and hand soap in it. Up until now, I have used a mishmash of products on my tray - but as of the last few weeks - I’ve been enjoying the new scent of Summer House upon my kitchen countertop. The new scent is so fresh, clean and hopeful during these long, grey days of Winter!
I always say that inspiration is everywhere, so on Saturday evening I took a hint from the scent of lemon-verbena that Summer House provides and created a cheerful tablescape that chased our Winter blues far, far away - or at least for as long as our meal lasted. I served broiled grass-fed steak, crisp kale salad, and a sauté of vegetables which further set the tone for our “Summer” meal.
2) Flowers: Don’t ever use Lilies on a tabletop that you will be dining at. They have a far too strong a scent. Think twice before introducing to much of any scent that may detour your guests from an enjoyable meal.
Depending upon where you buy your flowers, you’ll get a lot more bang for your buck if you purchase one kind of flower en masse, as opposed to trying to put together a flower arrangement full of a bunch of different varieties.
While I used a traditional rose bowl for my tabletop (I feel every household should have one of these in their vase collection) don’t be afraid to think outside the box when it comes to the container or vessel you are arranging flowers in. Big old bowls, water pitchers, galvanized metal containers, a collection of bud vases, glass bottles and china serving dishes can bring a lot of interest to a tabletop and help drive home the theme of your tabletop design.
When arranging flowers, whatever you use down low in the arrangement you should use up high. This pertains to both the color and the variety of flower. I’ve written a few tutorials on ABCDdesign that may give you helpful tips on flower arranging: Setting Up your Floral Design Tool Kit, How To Arrange Flowers in a Glass Container, and How To Arrange Flowers in Wet Floral Foam should get you started. The second two links give tips on creating a balanced, beautiful floral arrangement.
Determine where you want your house guests to sit for dinner by putting out place cards. This is an opportunity to liven up the conversation. Place them next to someone you think they will have something in common with, or who they have not met before. Put couples at least one party guest apart at the table – heaven knows they talk to one another enough when they’re not at your dinner table.
This is also an opportunity to ad an unexpected element into the design of your table. I’ve been known to wrap up little gifts as a party favor or make a itty-bitty flower arrangement in a bud vase with their name attached by a ribbon. In this case, I used the lemon-verbena scented clothespins (AKA the Summer House line) to hold the place cards.