Palo Alto Weekly

Real Estate - November 19, 2010

A triumph of table toppings

Creative table settings create a mood, set the stage for holiday meals

by Sally Schilling

Decorating for the holidays can mean the routine dusting-off of the holiday décor and simply setting it out in its usual place — or an opportunity to embrace your creative side.

A few weeks ago, designers and floral arrangers dressed up tables at the Menlo Circus Club, as part of the annual Holidays on a High Note fundraiser for Peninsula Family Service.

Many designers focused on creating an original look by blending pieces old and new, often getting inspiration from things already lying around the house.

The "Make the Holidays Sparkle" design by SarahSofia event planning in Menlo Park and Nicole Hitchcock of Palo Alto Blooms blended the traditional with the contemporary.

"We wanted to take the traditional holiday colors and turn them on their head," said Sarah Lucas, event planner at SarahSofia. "We used the expected traditional reds and put them with the unexpected silvery blue for a frosty feel."

The flower arrangements were white hydrangea, kale, roses and amaryllis with accents of red cherries and ranunculus.

"It reminds me of fluffy, fresh snow," said Hitchcock, who took inspiration from Lucas' linens and chargers. "The red is a great contrast against the silvery-blue linen, which gives the arrangement depth, and a more traditional feel to the table."

The booth-like white cushioned bench at the table, along with the various-sized modern conic-shaped flutes contributed to the contemporary feel.

Red accents in the arrangements were complemented by the sparkling red birds and napkins embroidered with cheerful holiday words: "merry," " bright," "sparkling" and "spirited."

"We love words," Lucas said. If people are looking for inspiration, she suggests, "Pick something that you love and that is meaningful to you and work around that."

Following the theme of mixing past and present was the "Classic Remix" table design by Rise Krag Interior Design (RKI), located in Menlo Park.

"It's a blend of the old and the new," Krag said of her design. She pointed out the old Chinese porcelain from the 18th and 19th centuries and the new, red mid-century Danish chairs.

All of the designers on the team contributed pieces from their personal collections to the table setting, including porcelain, silver and crystal.

Among the white-and-blue patterned pieces were accents of deep reds. Boxes made from chards of Chinese porcelain that were smashed during the Cultural Revolution were full of candy Red-Hots. And, romantic long-stemmed red roses were set in Japanese sake porcelain.

Emily Martin, from the RKI design team, brought her bridal china from Neiman Marcus to the table. Martin said people can recreate this look for themselves by shopping at antique stores and estate sales to get the mix-and-match layers of blue and white.

"It would take years (to get this kind of collection) but you get an eclectic collection like this all brought together by this color scheme," Martin said.

Martin added that if people do not have an extensive collection, they can also pool items from friends to put together an eclectic design.

Drawing inspiration from old furniture and using a plethora of deep oranges to cover a long dining table, Judy Sieber's "Thanksgiving" table design was the perfect picture of a fall feast. Sieber, owner of Emily Joubert Home & Garden, located in Woodside, offered table settings with eye-catching, heavy silverware that looked as if roots were sprouting from the bottoms of them.

Persimmons garnished the plates and green tufts of faux-manicured bushes contrasted with the deep oranges of the table.

From Sieber's attic, she used classic wooden kitchen table chairs, from when she lived south of Budapest. "That's how the farm table idea came about," said Sieber, who was also inspired by the wooden log slice chargers to create the "farmhouse-y" feel.

The oversized Central Valley pumpkins, cut with some of the curly vine left on, added a warm, fairytale-like character.

"When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of pumpkins instead of turkeys. Turkeys are just too traditional," she said.

Also drawing upon colors of the season was Harvest of Menlo Park's "Harvest Holiday" table. With browns, grays and silvers, the design gave off a mid-winter feel.

The centerpiece featured snow-topped branches with sparkling white birds perched on them. Silver Santas surrounded the centerpiece. The dazzling sparkle of the cool months, complemented by the warmth of a cozy sheepskin rug beneath the table, showcased a theme of hibernation.

"I mixed elements of old and new. The old hotel silver and the new white plates contrasted vintage tarnish with crisp snowy white," said Jaye Parsons, interior design consultant for Harvest.

"The centerpiece is inspired by nature. People could collect twigs and hang ornamental pieces. You could create a garland of sparkling silver pine cones and berries from the outdoors," Parsons said.

Editorial Intern Sally Schilling can be e-mailed at sschilling@embarcaderopublishing.com.

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