A Taste of the Unconventional Table

When I think of fall dining and entertaining, I am often reminded of my mother’s table and her behemoth of a china cabinet with its brown china with gold leaves, the turkey ceramic gravy boat, white napkins, lace tablecloth, knitted doilies, crystal glasses, and the worn chest that held the silver that I learned to polish to a brilliant shine. Fast forward all those years later to my own fine china (I was compelled to register for), which never sees the light of day and my own aesthetic about setting the table.

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First, let’s start with the table. Assuming you are on the hunt for a conversation piece, consider having your dining table custom-made. I often turn to a number of furniture makers and artisans I know to create one of my favorite styles of table for my clients – the live edge. Live edge means that the natural edge of a tree’s bark is left in the design of the piece of furniture. The most well-regarded artisan who produced this style of table was George Nakashima, who wrote “It is an art and soul-satisfying adventure to walk the forests of the world, to commune with trees…to bring this living material to the work bench, ultimately to give it a second life.” A number of trees salvaged from Hurricane Sandy have made their way into homes and have been given that second life.

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Now for creative, colorful and unconventional ways to cover the table when the table itself is perhaps not a show stopper. Try a cowhide, vintage sari, or brightly colored fabric as a tablecloth or runner.

PHOTO ©SARA ESSEX BRADLEY
PHOTO ©SARA ESSEX BRADLEY

Ten years ago, I selected my china out of a sense of tradition. It was my mother’s vision that she pass her china on to me and that I have something that I might remotely like for myself. However, I felt that choosing this thing didn’t necessarily represent me at that time, nor would it at some point in the future. Again, I lived in a home where plastic resided on the living room furniture, making funny noises and stuck to your backside when you got up, and you only sat upon it when company came three times a year – Thanksgiving, Christmas and Easter. I couldn’t imagine telling my devilishly curious 5-year-old to venture into designated parts of our home only at certain times of the year, nor could I explain that dinner was only special if it involved nice plates and people whom you saw every so often. He knows dinner is special and celebratory because mommy worked her a** off to make it and because we’re together eating and remarking on how f*%#ing awesome it is. As for those pretty plates adorned with awesomeness, I happen to think a well-dressed table can include, well, dinnerware inspired by classic men’s suiting. Check out the pinstripe pattern found in the Oliver Dinner collection from Ralph Lauren. Find more inspiration to compliment all of your fall entertaining finds here.

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Finally, add a little flare to the table with jewelry-inspired accents like this Brilliant napkin ring from Z Gallerie or these brass silhouette napkin rings from West Elm.

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Want to ready your dining room for fall entertaining? Call me at 516-620-9048 or e-mail me to schedule your one-on-one consultation today.

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