Most days of the year, setting the dinner table can feel like a chore. Plate, fork, knife, folded napkin, repeat. But, on special occasions, tablescapes create atmosphere, ushering in feelings of pomp and circumstance.
From “elegant” to “rustic,” table settings have themes, many inspired by blog posts, Instagram photos and Pinterest pins. Prepping for the holidays has become an art form with sectors of the industry devoted entirely to entertaining at home. Interior designer Amber Case, of Tustin, Calif., focuses almost exclusively on tables, mantels and Christmas trees.
“I love going into a home and creating a new ambience by adding something to what is there,” said Case. “It’s like putting the cherry and sprinkles on top of an already special event.”
We spoke to Case and to Danielle Mitchell, the merchandising, design and website manager at La Tavola Fine Linen Rental in Newport Beach, Calif., for tips on how to pull together a festive table. They each shared recommendations for colors, patterns and centerpieces that will help give your dining room a holiday glow.
1. Find an Inspiration Piece
Case says, “Go through your holiday decor and grab one or two items that catch your eye. Once you have chosen a piece, note the colors and textures and decide if the piece is more traditional or more contemporary. From there, you can incorporate similar colors and textures that all relate to your ‘inspo’ item.”
2. Play with Color
Mitchell says, “There is a wide range of colors that can evoke a holiday feel to your table from rich jewel tones to crisp winter whites and glittering metallics. Our Velvet line is perfect for the holidays or our Sequins linens add a special sparkle to the table. While red is the traditional statement making holiday color, and always a great option, you can also combine more unexpected colors like pale pink and a deeper olive green for a fun twist. For a more modern feel try using all white and black with accents of silver and gold; or for more of a vintage look try combining aqua and silver. It’s also fun to add natural elements like mini Christmas trees to keep the table feeling festive and add that pop of green.”
3. Set the Stage
Case says, “You can use books, gift boxes, shoe boxes and other household items to create layers and add height to the center of your table. Cover these items with fabric, a table runner or another linen and then use the various heights to artfully display your statement pieces.”
4. Say ‘Yes’ To Patterns
Mitchell says, “ Patterns can be subdued and minimal or steal the show. Tone-on-tone designs are a great way to bring pattern to a table if you tend to shy away from bold colors but want to add more visual interest to your tablescape. If you’re ready for a bold statement, picking a more graphic pattern linen is a great way to show your personality and add drama to the table. To decorate, try choosing one color from your pattern of choice and repeat those colors in your tabletop decor. A classic holiday plaid or stripes can be an effortless way to incorporate a print or if you’re a feeling hesitant about patterns, try using a solid color linen with a printed napkin and plate.”
5. Add Natural Elements
Case says, “When making your centerpiece, don’t be afraid to use items from your yard. Pinecones, twigs, branches, sprigs of greenery, even fruits and vegetables. Classic red apples with lush garland can go a long way. Pomegranates and pine cones combined with jewel tones add a sense of luxury.”
6. Make It Personal
Mitchell says, “Adding in antique pieces or using family china or heirlooms on the table can instantly make it feel more homey and personal. Family favorite holiday decorations can translate into decor or you can fill small picture frames with family photos and display them on the table.”