6 Steps to Picture Perfect Fall Table Decor

Six steps to an Instagram-worthy harvest table using everyday items.

 A favorite place to find décor items is no further than your refrigerator. Everyday household staples like fall fruit and vegetables add a rustic country look to your table.
Pumpkins, candle light and a fall floral arrangement that reflects the bounty of the harvest season combine for the perfect backdrop to gatherings with family and friends this season.

Fall Gatherings

There’s something so welcoming about an autumn harvest table set with pumpkins, garden vegetables and the warm glow of candles. Using the season’s beautiful bounty as inspiration to decorate the table and celebrate its role as an important gathering spot is a tradition many of us love. Here are my tips with step-by-step directions for setting fall table decor like a pro. Inspired? Share your your harvest tablescapes on Instagram using #romantichomes for a chance to have your photo featured!

A linen tablecloth on a wood table is the perfect base for fall table decor
Begin with a foundation of a linen tablecloth or runner. You could also use a canvas painter’s drop cloth, a stretch of fabric or even an curtain panel.

Step 1: Introduce Texture

A naturally finished wooden table is beautiful on its own, but by adding a rustic linen tablecloth, your tableau is instantly elevated. The draped fabric creates a focal point and a textured background for the subsequent elements you’ll add. Leaving a portion of the wood exposed adds to the rustic, yet elegant aesthetic.

Fall flowers like amaranth, dahlias and zinnias fill a classic urn for a beautiful harvest floral arrangement
Bring in elements with different levels like this statement floral piece showcasing fall blooms of amaranth, dahlias and zinnias.

Step 2: Add Some Height

You don’t want all your elements on the table at the same level, so anchor your table setting with something that lifts your eye. Here, we used a statement floral centerpiece to bring drama and a presence with an arrangement of fall flowers featuring amaranth, dahlias and zinnias from my garden. A tall vase with sunflowers would also be lovely or a big bunch of fall tree fall branches. If you’re interested in learning my top picks for flowers to grow for fall arrangements, check out this story on Favorite Fall Cutting Flowers.

Pale green tapers add hight to Cynthia's fall table decor
Tall taper candles add another level of interest to the tablescape and will cast a golden glow over the scene once they are lit. The pale green shade of the candlesticks and the simplicity of the candleholder are a modern take on an old-fashioned look.

Step 3: Make it Glow

A simple black iron candelabra filled with tapers in the same color family adds a romantic touch to your table and casts a warm and inviting hue. Long slender candles, which are making a big design comeback, also add another level of height to the setting.

Pale green taper candles in a simple candelabra are on on-trend twist to this classic staple of table decor
Everything looks good in candlelight.

 

Fall table decor with harvest vegetables, candles and a fall floral arrangement
A favorite place to find décor items is no further than your refrigerator. Everyday household staples like fall fruit and vegetables add a rustic country look to your table.

Step 4: Layer in Everyday Items

For a simple way to add interesting shape and color to your display, raid your fridge and vegetable bins for the season’s harvest. Look for produce with interesting shape, texture and hues that fit in with your table theme. A bunch of red grapes cascading on a raised cake platter fits this rustic harvest theme. Artichokes and purple cabbage are inexpensive additions – and when they are finished being used for décor, they are delicious to eat.

Artichokes and purple cabbage add texture, interesting shape and beautiful autumn hues to fall table decor
Artichokes and purple cabbage add texture, interesting shape and beautiful fall hues.

 

Fall table decor with harvest vegetables, grapes, candles and a fall floral arrangement.
Repeat colors and groupings for a curated and connected look across the tablescape.

Step 5: Repeat, Repeat, Repeat

Mirroring colors and shapes in your table landscape creates a cohesive, curated look. The red of the grapes relates to the rich, crimson flowers in the arrangement and is also a nod to the deep color pigment of the cabbage. The sage green artichokes match the candles. The cream pumpkins and apricot-toned gourds complement the linen. Use the rule of threes and odd numbers in your groupings – our eyes respond favorably to this.

Vintage silverware, antique ironstone transferware and red grapes in a bowl
Repeat colors and groupings for a curated and connected look across the tablescape.

Step 6: Add Character

Finally, weave in practical character pieces that are meaningful to you. The patina of old silver and chunky hotelware serving platters add heft and history to your setting. This is the time to bring out the old and well-loved favorites to add a sense of occasion, vintage charm and personality to your table. Don’t feel like everything has to match – if you keep a complimentary palette and style, it will all go together.

Vintage ironstone hotelware, harvest fruits and vegetables and a fall floral arrangement are perfect for fall table decor
Complete the look with your vintage silverware and vintage ironstone hotelware to add rustic charm and character.

 

Romantic fall table decor with harvest vegetables, pumpkins and a fall floral arrangment
Gather around your beautifully styled harvest table and enjoy all the season has to offer.

Cynthia Zamaria is a floral designer in the slow flower movement, interior designer and an experienced renovator of historic homes. You can read about her current project, the Millar House, on her website and follow her design exploits on Instagram.



Host an Intimate Alfresco Thanksgiving Gathering

Move the Thanksgiving table outdoors and give guests a cozy alfresco dining experience.

The colors of Autumn are nicely balanced at this elegant Thanksgiving table setting
The colors of Autumn are balanced nicely at this elegant Thanksgiving table set simply with vintage white Wedgwood china and natural wood accents.

Warm weather in some parts of the country often allows for entertaining outdoors in late November. Living in southern California has permitted me to take the party into the yard to celebrate Thanksgiving on many occasions. This tablescape proves how easy it is to create an elegant alfresco Thanksgiving experience for your guests to enjoy, and best of all, these table setting basics can easily work indoors as well.

Take Your Gathering Outdoors

Using Mother Nature’s bounty as your backdrop, position the table in a spot that’s both intimate and pretty. This year our guest list is on the small side, so pulling together a table for six is easy as pie. With a larger gathering, set up several tables near each other and vary the tableware slightly to add interest to the overall look.

The key to hosting a successful Thanksgiving gathering is to plan your tablescape a few days ahead. Lay out your plates, glassware, napkins and everything else earlier in the week.
The key to hosting a successful Thanksgiving gathering is to plan your tablescape a few days ahead. Lay out your plates, glassware, napkins and everything else earlier in the week. On Thanksgiving morning all you’ll need to do is transfer it outdoors.

Set the Tone with Your Favorite China

Choosing the right plates for your Thanksgiving table is important because the patterns on your dishes will guide your choices for the rest of the table. In this instance, I wanted to create an elegant dining experience with casual overtones so I chose two subtle patterns of vintage Wedgwood china that work nicely together. Just a hint of gold on the salad plates offers the perfect seasonal accent and contributes a little sparkle to the fall color palette.

Accents of gold on the salad plate used in this Thanksgiving table setting coordinate beautifully with the brass candlesticks and yellow roses
On this important holiday, two patterns of vintage Wedgwood china set the tone for an elegant dining experience. Accents of gold on the salad plates coordinate beautifully with the brass candlesticks and yellow roses.

Add Seasonal Touches

It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without a little hint of autumn décor, but we don’t want to overdo it with turkey figurines and brightly colored pumpkins. For this table, a pot filled with natural dried wheat, multicolored grape leaves harvested from the garden and a few glittery pumpkins are all that’s needed to add that Thanksgiving flair. Natural wood in the forms of cutlery and charger plates add another fall-like element to the table and contrasts nicely with the white table.

A trio of ironstone creamers holds white and yellow roses alongside glittery pumpkins at this Thanksgiving table setting
A trio of ironstone creamers holds white and yellow roses while glittery pumpkins and fall leaves remind us that it’s Thanksgiving. Simple, low-profile arrangements at the center of the table keep the conversation flowing.

Instantly Create Ambiance with Candlelight

Nothing can duplicate the magic of candlelight. Tiny flames flickering at table add the perfect dose of mystery and romance, not to mention candlelight makes everyone look more attractive! Brass candlesticks are the choice at this table, but votives, small lanterns and hurricanes work nicely as well. I love how the gentle glow lights up the vibrant amber glasses on the table too. Adding cozy candlelight to your surroundings extends the party ambiance into the yard and expands the whole alfresco experience.

Cozy candlelight sets the ambiance of alfresco dining at this Thanksgiving table setting
A tidy bow made out of jute twine keeps silverware and napkins together for each guest. At the center of the table, a macramé runner adds yet another layer of texture and acts as the foundation for the seasonal décor. Cozy candlelight set throughout the garden expands the ambiance of alfresco dining.

Mix in a Few Romantic Elements

There aren’t many things that are more romantic than beautiful, fragrant roses. Three small ironstone creamers hold petite bouquets of white roses with one symbolic yellow rose in each. The yellow roses represent happiness and friendship while the white roses express remembrance. Family, friends and memories are an integral part of Thanksgiving, and these roses symbolize how important new friends are while we call to mind Thanksgivings of days past.

The amber of these vintage glasses brightens the table of this Thanksgiving table setting
The amber glow given off by these vintage glasses brightens the whole farmhouse table while at the same time adds a gleam of seasonal color.

Plan Ahead

A great way to keep things running smoothly on Thanksgiving is to plan ahead. A few days before, lay your settings out indoors on the dining table so you can start formulating the look you’d like for your outdoor table. This way your plates, glassware, napkins and everything else will be ready to go on Thanksgiving morning, and then all you’ll have to do is transfer it outdoors. Enlist the help of friends and family members who may be eager to lend a hand. After all, the key to hosting a successful Thanksgiving gathering is being organized, that way you’ll stay calm and enjoy the day.

Crafting beautiful tablescapes is one of Fabiana’s many talents and passions. She regularly shares her inspiring designs on her blog, Ciao! Newport Beach and on instagram.



Collecting Antique Silver Servingware

Discover the lasting beauty of fine antique table silver.

Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.
Matched silver sets are beautiful, but many of us collect silverware over the years and collect many different patterns. Embrace the variety by displaying mismatched patterns and enjoy each individual intricate pattern.

Your table is a creative canvas where you can display the treasured silver servingware you’ve gathered over the years, especially during months filled with celebrations, intimate dinner parties and holiday feasts. The tradition of fine dining is once again au courant, and there’s never been a better time for those of us who appreciate a beautifully set table.

A vintage inspired tablescape set with antique silver servingware.
Antique silver trophy cups, those engraved with the long past accomplishments of celebrated people, are a unique glimpse into the past and fun addition to any tablescape.

History

Silver, sterling or plate, closely associated with elegant dinner table settings, has a history that goes further back than the gleaming silver we remember from our childhood holiday table. In fact, the tradition of sitting down for an enjoyable meal with family and friends dates back as far as civilization, but dining tables were not set with silver until the early 19th century. During the Renaissance, knives were the primary utensils used during meals, along with a wooden spoon. Forks were introduced as early as the 11th century, but were extremely controversial, scandalous and considered heretical, not gaining widespread favor in Europe until well into the 18th century.

Antique silverware is perfectly paired with these delicate linen and lace dinner napkins.
Mixed metallics, like the touches of gold-tone on the these utensils, adds extra color and detail to the vignette.

It wasn’t until the 1800s that dining came into “the gilded age” and silver for the table was plentiful. Wealthy hostesses of the 1800s set their tables with lustrous silver serving dishes and a bewildering assortment of flatware. A single place setting at a formal dinner might have included at least eight different forks, eight knives, numerous spoons, a butter pick, game shears, nut picks, asparagus tongs and salts.

What to Collect

Collect what you love and appeals to you, a glorious mix of bowls, tureens, ladles and silverware that pays homage to your personal style. Mixed in with what you already own, these elegant luxuries add glamour to your table’s setting. Collectors love sterling silver because it keeps its value. But a collection of silver plate will bring just as much beauty to your table.

Silver is considered a "cool tone." Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.
Silver is considered a “cool tone.” Lidy added warmth to her sideboard vignette by adding bright yellow and red blossoms.

Elegant, sophisticated and long lasting, silver serving bowls, domes and flatware elevate any setting to party status. We have a great advantage over our ancestors in that we can enjoy the beautiful silver pieces they did, but we’re not stuck with their rules. While our grandmother would never mix and match place settings or combine antique silver with contemporary dishes, today we enjoy all the charm antique silver brings to the table, free from those rules.

What to Look For

Quality. Become familiar with high quality. Sterling is almost always marked, either with the word STERLING or the lion passant. Do your research; you can find most sterling makers’ marks on the Internet. Most plated silver from the 1800s is marked Quadruple Plated. If you love a piece and want to use it for serving, but it is corroded inside, consider having a silversmith replace the interior.

Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.
Intricately detailed patterns make collecting antique silverware a captivating hobby.

Style. Opt for designs you love. Pieces with a logo, monogram or beautiful hand-chased floral engravings add charm. It doesn’t all have to match. If you love it, it will work together.

Condition. Buy silver in good condition. I suggest you buy silver that is pre-polished, especially silver-plate, so way you can see how much loss to the plating there is. Some loss is fine, but most of the silver should be there.  Do remember these pieces are often over 100 years old, and will not be perfect. That’s part of their charm.

Collecting Antique Silver- It's easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.
It’s easy to start collecting antique silver but focusing on smaller, everyday items like cutlery. As you learn and discover more about silver, keep your eyes open for unique pieces, such as this salt, pepper, oil, and vinegar set.

You can start enjoying antique silver in small ways. Perhaps you are fortunate enough to have inherited your grandmother’s silver, or received the gift of a set of six spoons.  Set your well-appointed table with pleasure; it will bring people together and provide comfort as well as joy.

 

For more on Lidy, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.



Create A Vintage Patriotic Tablescape

Five easy steps to help you set the perfect patriotic table with a vintage twist!

Vibrant blue glassware compliments the ticking stripe table runner, while sweet little chamomile flowers in white hobnail votive holders add a cheerful splash of color.
Vibrant blue glassware compliments the ticking stripe table runner, while sweet little chamomile flowers in white hobnail votive holders add a cheerful splash of color.

Summer’s biggest celebration is almost here, so now’s the perfect time to start planning for a festive 4th of July gathering. Forget the paper plates and disposable napkins and go for something more upscale. Gather some of your favorite tableware and collected pieces and set a pretty vintage patriotic tablescape for America’s favorite holiday.

Wouldn’t it be fun to create a classic-inspired red, white and blue table setting that will surely create a memorable celebration for your friends and family? Mixing and matching your favorite table linens, plates, flatware and glasses are simplified with these five easy to follow steps.

An up-close and personal look at all the details of these lovely transferware plates. By alternating red and blue colored dishes of various sizes, these plates take on their own patriotic charm.
An up-close and personal look at all the details of these lovely transferware plates. By alternating red and blue colored dishes of various sizes, these plates take on their own patriotic charm.

1. Choose your inspiration piece.

An inspiration piece always sets the tone for any gathering. My collection of red and blue transferware plates was my starting point for this vintage patriotic tablescape. Transferware is so easy to mix and match since the various patterns coordinate so well with each other.
To create that perfect red, white and blue look for this table, I used three different sized plates for each place setting and alternated red and blue plates of different sizes for each guest. Vintage transferware plates also look amazing when combined with plain white china or ironstone, so experiment with what you have and create your own unique look!

A ticking stripe runner sets the groundwork for the rest of the table, and softens the look of the rustic farmhouse table.
A ticking stripe runner sets the groundwork for the rest of the table, and softens the look of the rustic farmhouse table.

2. Lay your groundwork.

Tablecloths, runners and placemats lay the groundwork for any pretty table setting. In this instance, I chose a runner with a blue and white ticking pattern. To me, this delicate pattern evokes thoughts of the stripes on the American flag.
In addition to introducing a subtle pattern, runners are a great way to add interest to the table and soften the look of a wood table. A romantic vibe is instantly set for the table just by adding a pretty fabric. And to finish off the groundwork, I chose simple white time-worn napkins.

A lovely pitcher of chamomile flowers is elevated with a playful accent of red, white and blue books.
A lovely pitcher of chamomile flowers is elevated with a playful accent of red, white and blue books.

3. Add natural elements.

Organic materials such as flowers or fruit are important natural elements for any tablescape. Sweet chamomile flowers are inexpensive and easily found at the grocery store. They have the same look as a mini daisy, and when was the last time a daisy didn’t put a smile on your face? These charming little flowers add a bit of whimsy and nostalgia to the table.
If you have the resources at home, forage pretty clippings from your own garden. Oftentimes, I go out to my garden and snip branches and seasonal flowers to add to the table. It’s always surprising to me how just a simple natural element brings the whole table to life.

Grandmother’s treasured silver adds a touch of glitz and nostalgia to the table.
Grandmother’s treasured silver adds a touch of glitz and nostalgia to the table.

4. Incorporate vintage details.

Vintage details instantly elevate your table into the “romantic” category. Grandmother’s treasured silverware is happy to make an appearance at the table and quietly recalls festive occasions of days passed. Or perhaps you have a favorite collection of vintage vases or glassware you’d love to share with your guests.

A pretty berry tart sits upon a pedestal at the center of the table and sets the tone for the patriotic colors of this tablescape and offers a preview to the delicious meal awaiting guests.
A pretty berry tart sits upon a pedestal at the center of the table and sets the tone for the patriotic colors of this tablescape and offers a preview to the delicious meal awaiting guests.

5. Bring together the whole look with a centerpiece.

A centerpiece visually anchors the whole table. Like the cherry on the top of a hot fudge sundae, the middle of the table looks finished when a unique feature is prominently displayed in its center. As you can see, something as simple as a pretty berry tart livens up the table and prepares your guests’ palates for the menu you have planned for them. This little store bought tart was simply embellished with fresh fruit on top and will be sure to please your guests.

My love for blue and white transferware plates is unmistakable, and I have a few favorites displayed throughout my home on the walls for all to enjoy. This type of collection transcends so many different décor styles and helps to create the perfect vintage patriotic tablescape.
My love for blue and white transferware plates is unmistakable, and I have a few favorites displayed throughout my home on the walls for all to enjoy. This type of collection transcends so many different décor styles.

Put together complementary accents for the whole room.

Remember to let your personality shine through anytime you’re creating a tablescape. For the patriotic summer timeframe that begins with Memorial Day and ends with Labor Day, look for other fun ways to add a little red, white and blue interest to your dining area. Gathering books from other parts of the house and incorporating them on a sideboard or table is one of my favorite ways to play off the theme of my table setting.

Books are an especially easy way to add color and charm to any room. A plain corner of my dining nook was in need of some color, so three appropriately colored books came to the rescue while at the same time helping to elevate a lovely pitcher of fresh flowers. Just remember to always incorporate things you love and your personal style will shine through.

Crafting beautiful tablescapes is one of Fabiana’s many talents and passions.She regularly shares her inspiring designs on her blog, Ciao! Newport Beach and on instagram.



Collecting and Caring for Ironstone Dishware

Explore the history and style of beautiful, romantic ironstone.

White Ironstone dishes make for a useful and beautiful collection.
Whether clean or marked with character, ironstone is as useful as it is beautiful.

Are you an enthusiastic collector of ironstone? The simplicity and utilitarian quality of these gleaming white dishes makes it a favorite collectible. Sometimes known as “the little black dress” of pottery, white ironstone mixes beautifully with antique, traditional, farmhouse, French country or contemporary interiors.

Ironstone pieces are survivors; their resilience tells their story, and minor discoloration only seems to add to their patina and beauty.

Give clean white Ironstone a rustic feel by pairing pieces with antique cutting boards.
An antique breadboard gives this Ironstone vignette a rustic feel.

What Is Ironstone?

Ironstone is not porcelain; it’s porous earthenware, made of clay mixed with feldspar. Patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason in Staffordshire, England, it was an immediate success, and ironstone blanks were decorated with transfer patterns or hand painting to imitate Chinese porcelain. There is no iron in ironstone. Many believe Mason used this name to imply that iron and china created a durable and almost indestructible pottery.

Many Staffordshire potteries had similar products known by a variety of names: English porcelain, semi porcelain, new stone and stone china. Mason’s patent lapsed in 1827, and other Staffordshire factories adopted the name ironstone.

In the 1840s, undecorated white stoneware was shipped to the colonies. Durable and affordable, ironstone was popular with rural American families and settlers. Called graniteware, stoneware, pearl china or feldspar china, these pieces are all considered ironstone. In the 1870s and 1880s, American potters began to manufacture their own white ware, under the name graniteware.

Ironstone Maker's Marks
Look for maker’s marks on the bottom and details toppers on lids.

What to Look for

Weight. Ironstone is thick and heavy.

Maker’s Mark. Most, but not all, ironstone is marked with a stamp on the bottom that is printed, impressed or both.

Color. Early English pieces made for export will have a blue or gray tint. Pieces that remained in England are creamier white, as are American ironstone pieces.

Shape. Date early ironstone by looking at patterns and shapes.

  • 1830s and 1840s: Gothic early pieces are hexagonal or octagonal in shape.
  • 1850s: Leaves were popular embellishments.
  • 1860s and 1880s: More rounded forms, harvest patterns with fruit, berries, nuts, grain or sheaves of wheat.
  • 1880s: Return to simpler forms, plain designs with decoration only on the handles or finials.

Condition. Crackling or crazing in the clear overglaze is not uncommon in old pieces; it’s considered acceptable, even desirable to some collectors. Edges should be free of chips if possible.

An Ironstone cake plate works as a centerpiece, topped with roses.
This cake plate hosts a bouquet of roses for a sweet yet informal centerpiece.

Start a Collection

You can choose a pattern, or focus on a certain shape. Once very affordable, ironstone is now highly collectable and coveted by collectors. You can expect to pay $350 for a teapot, over $1,000 for a rare pedestal or cake stand, and $200 for a soap dish in exceptional condition.

Beautiful as well as practical, these dishes add personality to your romantic decor. Gather a grouping in your hutch, march a variety of pitchers down your dining table, or fill a tureen with flowers for an effortless centerpiece. Once you have bought one piece, you’ll want to join the rest of us in our white-on-white craze—collecting is highly addictive. Happy hunting!

Vignette with ironstone, linen and silverware
Create the look of rustic elegance by paring ironstone with natural linen and silverware that shows its age.

How to Care for Ironstone

  1. Hand wash ironstone and dry it with a soft towel.
  2. Never use bleach. Bleach penetrates the glaze, can dissolve the glaze and can eventually cause the clay to crumble and disintegrate.
  3. Remove silverware marks with a soft cloth and a gentle rubbing of toothpaste; then rinse and dry.

For more on Lidy, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.



3 Musts for a Romantic Tablescape

Courtney's favorite ideas for dressing up the table for memorable meals.

I love to take the time to set an elegant, inspired table for guests to enjoy. So much so, that the menu is often runner-up after the flowers, place settings and ambience. Whether you’re setting a table for two or 20, there are a few things you can do to create an inviting and unforgettable table for your guests. A few sweet touches can make sitting down with company a magical experience!

Low centerpieces, like these arrangements of peonies, will never get in the way of dinner table conversation.
Although small, these blossoms make a big impact when paired with neutral napkins.

#1. Flowers

Whether it’s a garland of greens with flowers tucked inside, several small vases running the length of the table or even a single beautiful bouquet, you can’t go wrong. Think about your colors and what flowers are available during that time of year.

#2. Place settings

From delicate and detailed to vintage, create special place settings for each guest. I like to include a small sprig of flowers and herbs tied to a napkin as a welcome.

#3. Ambience

Lighting is key for adding ambience: candles on the table, twinkle lights in trees and LED candles in lanterns to light steps and paths. Add some music in the background, and enjoy a romantic evening.

 

 



Elegant and Easy Holiday Tablescape

A pink color palette with touches of metallics tie antique pieces together with contemporary accessories

Set with antique Limoges, silver monogrammed napkin rings and contemporary glasses, each place setting is centered on vintage Florentine trays.

The holidays are a time for creating elegant, gorgeous table settings with your finest antique dishes, silver and linens that are as magical as the holiday itself. Create a holiday tabletop with a fresh, inspired look that reflects you and your style.

Mixing your antique pieces with contemporary prints or accessories adds a little twist on the traditional. The juxtaposition of old with new, and casual with formal makes any table more visually interesting and personal.

Metallic touches in gold and silver tie the mismatched antique china patterns together for this sophisticated holiday table.

Whether you’re hosting family or guests for formal or informal meals, learn how to set an elegant yet modern table that mixes contemporary and antique elements that share a common thread. It can be color, shape or a theme that ties all your pieces together on your table. These tips will inspire a romantic holiday table that you and your guests will enjoy.

A collection of antique porcelain dishes in mixed patterns all come together at each place setting, echoing the colors of the centerpiece.
  1. Set the Stage. A table setting should be as diverse as your guest list, with layer upon layer of interest. While a white antique linen cloth is a classic base, using antique fabric, a bedspread or an antique linen bed sheet can add a touch of drama. Don’t be afraid to use something out of the ordinary to make your setting feel fresh, like a runner that is actually a remnant of designer wallpaper. The holidays are the time to be bold.
  2. Make Your Centerpiece the Star. It’s easy to create luxurious floral arrangements like a pro—just use arrangements of the same flowers in several vases of different heights. When you use a large quantity of the same flower, your arrangements will look luxurious. Sprinkle in a good amount of greens, and your table will literally come to life. A well thought-out centerpiece will unify and pump up the volume of your table’s theme.
  3. Mix Patterns. Combining your antique dishes with new pieces is a great way to refresh your tabletop. Choose similar tones, and pay attention to which plates are placed next to each other, pairing bold patterns with simpler designs to create balance. Add contemporary flatware to your table setting to update antique china, or use mismatched antique silver flatware for a dose of personality at each place setting. Use your collections; they’re meant to be enjoyed.
  4. Create Sparkle: Candles lend a warm, flattering glow to your table. They’re sure to bring a little romance and relaxed elegance to your meal. Place unscented candles and votives near shiny objects to create a sparkling effect.
  5. Get Personal. Don’t be afraid to add charming, personal favorite things to your tabletop. The prettier and more interesting your table feels, the more guests will enjoy their dining experience. Thinking outside the box, use objets d’art interspersed with flowers and candles for a centerpiece that will get conversations started. Antique accents add the softness of age and a richness of spirit. Mixing the old with the new, bring things to your table that tell a story and have history. Adding something a little quirky to your table will make it more appealing every time.

Designing a stunning holiday table is a gift from you to your guests. Use what you love, and make it work. Set your table with items that are special to you and unexpected touches to create a holiday to remember.

For more on Lidy, visit frenchgardenhouse.com.



Stories to Tell: Collecting Classic Transferware

Make a statement on your holiday table with classic transferware dishes.

Red transferware lends its cheery hue to holiday vignettes
Transferware comes in many colors, but during the holiday season, red is our color of choice!

Temptingly graphic with stories to tell, antique transferware comes into its own at holiday time. With elaborate borders and endearing scenes, each piece of transferware pottery is a miniature work of art. A few pieces grouped together or a large collection displayed en masse make an exquisite decorative statement. Transferware, with its subject matter, technique and colors, is timeless—a classic that is admired just as much today as it was in the 18th century.

Red transferware plate with cows

What Is Transferware?

Transferware is a type of pottery that is decorated by a process developed in England in the mid-1750s. To produce each colorful design, a master pattern was engraved on copper, glazed with color and transferred to thin paper. These sections of paper were applied one by one to a piece of pottery before the piece was put into the kiln. Many patterns were so complex that it took over a month to engrave the copper master sheet.

a holiday vignette featuring red transferware

History

Transferware was made all over Europe and the United States in many colors and patterns. Before transfer printing was developed, each piece in a dinner set had to be painted by hand, a costly process, making decorated dishes completely out of reach for working class families.

The industrial revolution in England changed that. The transfer process meant pottery patterns could be reproduced repeatedly, allowing middle class families to enjoy appealing dinnerware similar to that found in the homes of the gentry. By the 1800s, factories were producing entire tableware sets, most in romantic patterns featuring a man and woman in lush landscapes.

A display of red transferware plates and a platterWhat to Look For

Most transferware on the market today is from the mid to late 1800s. Especially appealing are pieces from the late 1800s Aesthetic Movement, when artists believed that creating something for beauty alone justified their artwork. Look for Oriental patterns, free-flowing asymmetrical designs, lavish florals and garden scenes filled with exotic birds, trees and lush landscapes.

Holiday vignette featuring red transferware

Most transfer pieces are marked on the bottom with the maker’s mark, and often with a pattern name. Some early pieces are unmarked; they are just as valuable. The older the transferware, the more “misses” you will see where the pattern joins at the seams. Unless it truly is a huge miss, this does not devalue a piece.

Prices can range from a lucky find at a flea market for well under $100.00 to thousands at an auction house, depending on rarity, size, and who else wants to add that piece to their collection.  Of all the colors of transferware, yellow was the least produced, therefore the most rare and costly to acquire.

Next time you come across a striking platter, bowl or cup, don’t hesitate to add it to your antique collection. The darling of decorators, transferware is decorative as well as useful. Whether you display your collection on your walls, or set a holiday table, these pieces have survived for over a hundred years and are meant to be used and bring joy.

For more on Lidy Baars and French Garden House, visit frenchgardenhouse.com



Nora Murphy’s Fall Dining Room is an Indoor Garden

The designer and blogger draws from her favorite past-time of gardening to decorate her dining room with all the elegance of autumn.

Light and shadows created by the autumn sunshine play across the table, causing the glassware to glitter. Against the back wall stands the pine hutch Nora found at HomeGoods and uses as a statement piece to hold her collection of white serveware. “It’s a big room, so it needed something that would anchor the table and be the statement piece,” Nora Murphy says.
Light and shadows created by the autumn sunshine play across the table, causing the glassware to glitter. Against the back wall stands the pine hutch Nora found at HomeGoods and uses as a statement piece to hold her collection of white serveware. “It’s a big room, so it needed something that would anchor the table and be the statement piece,” she says.

Decorating for fall can be overwhelming, especially with the added pressures of hosting a dinner or party. Save yourself some stress and plan on an elegant, yet simple table setting this year. Designer and homeowner Nora Murphy of Nora Murphy Country House proves that all you need are a few essential pieces to make your dining room an autumnal paradise.

For a pop of color, Nora clips branches from her garden to hang on the chandelier. Though they’re fresh, they tend to last for several days.
For a pop of color, Nora clips branches from her garden to hang on the chandelier. Though they’re fresh, they tend to last for several days.
Autumn's own shade of vibrant red is the perfect color to pair with the black and white dining space without sacrificing Nora's preference for natural elements. 
Autumn’s own shade of vibrant red is the perfect color to pair with the black and white dining space without sacrificing Nora’s preference for natural elements.

 

“It’s very simple, but everything has a European garden feel,” Nora says. With large rosemary plants, vibrant maple leaves and an antique bee skep hidden away in the corner, Nora brings the wonders of her garden indoors and uses it as a natural base to style her fall dining room. “I’m a gardener, so I always go fresh first for entertaining,” says Nora. The branches, leaves and pumpkins are all fresh to create an authentic look in the room, but you can always use faux options if you prefer.

Nora Murphy decorates with Simon Pearce glassware and white pumpkins
The simple and elegant table setting pieces are all from Simon Pearce. A red striped placemat creates a base for the white plates, linen napkins and hurricane glass candle holders. She positioned a baby boo pumpkin on each setting and tied a wood tag bearing her guests’ names to mark each person’s place.

Color Palette

With a mostly white palette, Nora brought in black Windsor chairs and painted an antique bench to bring contrast to the space and create a cohesive set. They look as if they could just as easily belong to an outdoor table, which helps the garden vibe.  To continue her white color palette, Nora chose to keep her dishes and décor of the same shade. “I like to use what’s in season, so I loved the idea of white pumpkins and keeping everything to one color: creamy white,” she says. However, she incorporates bits of red through the leaves and placemats for pops of color.

Nora Murphy's European garden-themed dining room has a simple and elegant look for fall. Live maple leaves and branches add color to the otherwise neutral palette. An antique bee skep and 18th century European mural grace the room with history.
This European garden-themed dining room has a simple and elegant look for fall. Live maple leaves and branches add color to the otherwise neutral palette. An antique bee skep and 18th century European mural grace the room with history.

Autumnal Dining

To set the scene for her get together, Nora started with a 10-foot 19th century work table as her base on which to build her tablescape. She then put hand-blown hurricane candle holders from Simon Pearce in the middle of the table and placed creamy white candles inside of them as the start of the centerpiece and sprinkled pumpkins in between to finish the look. “Set the large pumpkins first, then the medium and small,” she says. “When a group is meshed together, it creates an impactful look. That’s the beauty of the centerpiece: it’s bold, yet simple.”

Nora finished the look with a white baby boo pumpkin on every plate as the place card holder for an elegant autumn look that is sure to please family and friends.

To set the scene for her get together, Nora Murphy started with a 10-foot 19th century work table as her base on which to build her tablescape
To set the scene for her get together, Nora started with a 10-foot 19th century work table as her base on which to build her tablescape

Like Nora’s dining room? See more of her home here!