Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Let's Take A Look

Now that we know the table, let's start laying some things down on it and see what we get. For starters, I love these round open and airy feeling mats, so I am going to use them. As you can see from the picture, they are pretty dark against this fruitwood tabletop so I will have to be sure to put some color in there for contrast. That is what I like to do, but if you are not a "high contrast person", you can go with a more sedate plan! This is a really small table that we are working with so we are fairly limited in the size of mat that we can actually use. I am thinking that this table had leaves that would expand the size, but they were long gone before I acquired it. So this will be a cozy dinner for four and we will leave the big parties for the big tables!
So we are set to start selecting some actual dinnerware to build our stage - let's go have some fun!!

Monday, April 21, 2008

First Things First

This table is a special favorite of mine. I loved it the minute I saw it in an antiques store about 7 years ago, at least. I was, at the time, looking for a table to place in the "family" room so that I could sit and work on papers and also serve dinner while we watched some captivating television. Of course, it didn't work, but the table stayed anyway. Then I had the brilliant idea to truck it down to the store on Magazine Street in New Orleans. It resided there for the duration and at least once a month someone would try to buy it. But, oh no!! That is MY table! And then the ravages of the hurricane got us. Lucky for me the people who broke into the store did overlook my treasure when they ransacked and hauled out what they could. And now this old friend is here with me at the store on Government Street in Baton Rouge. I still love it, and I am still thinking of any way that I can make it work at home. The table in my dining room is so much larger (hmm - I think we have actually had 20 people seated around it at one time and yes, they were really good friends or at least family members!) that I know this little gem can never replace it.

Laying It Down

Now the fun part--putting it all together!! It always seems as if setting the scene is half the fun of the party - that's the time you turn on the music and just let the ideas fly by. Some can create the perfect table in their heads and then just lay it down. I, on the other hand, have to move stuff around and walk around the table a few hundred times just to see "how it looks". Don't know which way is best, but this is by far a lot more fun.
First lets just clear off the old stuff on that table and take a good look at it before we start in building our stage for the great dinner production. I think I'll start on the fruitwood table and see how that one shapes up. Please excuse the background "noise" in all these pictures as the tables are all sitting here with me in the store and it is fairly hard to imagine them in an appropriate room setting. But we will try our best! and I am thinking right here that the best way to handle this is to just take each table as a separate entry and see how that works --- so here goes!

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Serve It Up

When planning a dinner, the service utensils can take center stage in providing the glitz and glamour for the table. While color is one of the important factors, shape can be just as interesting and exciting. Here we have an assortment of shapes and styles that can lend their particular character not only to the table setting, but also to the menu for the day. The beautiful detail in the sculpting of these pieces gives them an added dimension that reflects the artistic design in each of them. You can just imagine the vivid greens, red, and yellows of roasted peppers set against the creamy white of the large serving bowl or the spring green of grilled asparagus as it sits on the large oval platter.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Placemats and Napkins

There are many possibilities from which to choose when we start with black or white for our placemats at the table. Black can be the perfect background for colorful chinaware or a stark contrast for white. When you add napkins you can either stay with the same color choice or introduce another color. For now, we will stay with the black and white and introduce color with other tabletop elements. Among our choices of mats are a beautiful black passamenterie, a black linen with rings stitched along the edge to create interest, a cotton off-white with black applique along the hemlines, and a casual black straw mat.

The napkins can be either formal or playful, depending on what statement we will be making when the diners approach the table. Here is a nice variety from which to choose, some making a bold statement with pattern, others with adornment such as the rings along the edges or the contrast stitching.
The fabrics from which the mats and napkins are constructed also adds to the total design of the tabletop. A soft, drapable linen damask will sit differently than a starched cotton or cotton blend. If we are using napkin rings or holders that will also be a determining factor on our choice. We can also elect to fold the napkins using one of the creative and fun folding techniques that are popular today. Entire books have been written about the art of the napkin fold, and we will investigate a few of them later in our project.
Having always loved the look of the passamenterie placemats, I will use them as the first element of our design. With this as our "jumping off" point, we can't help but have a good time before and during our dinner!!

Gather Round the Table

Now that we know we want to deal in black and white as the focal point for our table setting, let's find a table to use as the stage. Two of the tables here at the store are good candidates. A nice fruitwood in a tradional style would be a good choice as would an outdoor picnic type table with iron scrollwork as a base. Both tables are ones that are at home in New Orleans either in the dining room or on the patio.

Let's set both tables just for the fun of creating an exciting scene. We can then decide where we wish to entertain when we know more about the weather for the evening. Dining outdoors lends another magic dimension that lets us be more adventuresome in our settings. There is something about the lights on the patio that make everything seem a little more soft and mysterious. Indoor settings are often more dramatic and "formal" which lends a certain tone to the event. Setting the stage often determines the entire menu plan and seating arrangements. So let us go about setting both our tables and making those decisions before we move on to location and menus!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

It's All Black and White

Sometimes it takes a bold statement to really catch your eye. We make those statements around the house when we push vibrant colors against black and white and watch them dance. There is the belief that black and white, either alone or in combination with each other, are never out of style. I think that is especially true for those unique individuals who ARE their own style. They can take just about anything and make it work, and make it work really well. I have always been a "high contrast" person who needs that sudden jolt of color to capture my attention. As a result, I have always been drawn to the creative possibilities of taking simple black and white and building a series of designs from that base. In the next few days I will be attempting to do that right here on these pages. We will use our favorites from the Frances Palmer Pottery collection that we have on the shelves. There are so many wonderful large platters and other over-size pieces that contribute a real visual target. I will start out with just the basic table "canvas" of place mats and napkins. We will play with black, white, and the two together in prints. After that we will go where our spirits take us - listening all the while to the whisper of the quirky and funky!

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

It must be Spring

Surely Spring is here, no April Fools joke about it. All the color around the gardens is certainly proof enough that already the April showers are at work. Pinks, oranges, yellows, deep violets - all these colors are jumping out at us as we stroll the neighborhoods right now. At least here in Baton Rouge they are.
These gorgeous Spring colors are just as vibrant indoors when we look at the Mustardseed and Moonshine bowls and mugs that we have sitting near us. With something as lovely as these to start our mornings, how can we help but know that everyday is special?