One of the best places in your home to showcase the bounty and beauty of autumn is on your dining table. I think of this wide open plane as a ready-made stage that’s just waiting for a show-stopping presentation that celebrates the colors, textures and iconic images of fall.
Here are tips for setting a fabulous fall table:
▪ The style at my store, Nell Hill’s, is to mix rustic and refined elements together to create a multi-layered display that’s rich and rewarding to view. The casual table sets the tone, with its warm wood tones, black accents and mix of organic materials. We can start with a dramatic centerpiece, tall and breathtaking, but not so large as to make cross-table discussion impossible.
▪ Fall is my favorite time of year to pull in hunting lodge pieces like faux antler candlesticks because they look so wonderful with the autumnal color palette. For fun, we top the candle holders with little faux gourds and fill in the natural arch made by the antlers with a tiered server, which adds to the visual height of the centerpiece and provides a great place to serve dishes.
▪ For a fabulous visual feast on your table, layer up your place settings, mixing formal pieces with the everyday. Napkins turned on the diagonal are ideal — and easily laundered — placemats, giving you a chance to bring in some fun pattern to soften things up.
▪ Want to elevate the look of your table a few notches? Cover each place setting in a cloche. Anything put under a cloche is instantly transported to the sublime. Try this Nell Hill’s trick: Top each place setting with something unexpected, something whimsical, like tucking a gourd in a cup.
▪ Blue and orange are a killer combo for fall decorating, and you can do one better by adding in shades of green. Because I can’t resist blue and white pottery, matching jars are a natural pick to create a simple but stunning centerpiece. All you need is one, two or three gorgeous vases, cachepots or ginger jars filled with faux fall foliage, and boom, you’re done.
▪ To create an intriguing table setting, we mixed bold, contemporary dishes with fine, traditional glassware.
▪ Experiment with napkins — there are so many inventive ways to thread them into your place settings.
▪ You don’t have to fit all your serving pieces on the table when you entertain (good news for those of us who like to go a little crazy with the centerpiece!). In fact, I jump at the chance to use a serving tray.
▪ Honeysuckle vine wreaths are a perfect pick for fall. You can use them all over your home in unique ways. Hang them from the backs of your dining chairs with fall ribbon, from window sashes, interior and exterior doors, the garden gate.
▪ Make the memories of your dinner party last by giving your guests small gifts. I like to include these little tokens in the design of my table.
This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at www.nellhills.com. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org .