Each one of us gravitates toward a certain look or design style,
and, based on years of interviews with women around the country,
I’ve come up with what I consider to be the three most distinctive
decorating profiles: Romantic, Adventurous and Serene.
Each one of us gravitates toward a certain look or design style, and, based on years of interviews with women around the country, I’ve come up with what I consider to be the three most distinctive decorating profiles: Romantic, Adventurous and Serene.
These three styles can be interpreted in many different ways and used to express your unique personality in whatever it is you’re doing in your home — from decorating a room to wrapping a package to setting your dining table for a festive dinner party.
For instance, someone who decorates in the Romantic style may feel comfortable incorporating elements of country, cottage and traditional styles but puts them together in fresh, creative ways to provide comfort for family, friends and loved ones.
A romantic dining room, for example, might be furnished with a white painted table with estate sale side chairs painted blue and a china hutch displaying favorite silver, glass and decorative tabletop items that have been collected or inherited.
Adventurous types like to be surrounded by exotic, artifact-filled interiors for a more “eclectic” look that combines elements from many different periods and cultures to create a look that is totally personal — a fingerprint style that can never be exactly duplicated because of the unique display and use of handcrafted, found objects or travel souvenirs.
Serene appeals to those who gravitate toward calming, neutral spaces or to those with more modern tendencies: people who like to live with subtle neutrals and fewer objects cluttering their lives.
Setting the table for special dinners with family and friends, holiday gatherings, or just to give yourself a visual boast when you sit down to dine are great ways to express your decorating personality.
So, whether you’re decorating your house or putting plates on the table, you can use this template of decorating styles — Romantic, Adventurous or Serene — to get inspiration. Here are some ideas:
n Romantic: Whether setting a romantic table for two or for a party of your closest friends, pull out all the stops. Use that glass epergne centerpiece that you received as a wedding gift and fill it with a profusion of one type of flower.
Or arrange a grouping of floral-filled glass bottles and herbs down the center of your table. Or, in lieu of any centerpiece, create chairside vignettes by placing a small bud vase or wine glass with a single bloom by each place setting.
Do you love collecting plates but don’t have enough of one pattern to set for 12? Then mix and match the ones you have and bring the look together with the placemats or tablecloth, matching napkins, or colored glass and stemware. Don’t stop the mixing and matching there, however.
Mix vintage and new — new chargers underneath your antique salad plates, new flatware with your inherited “pudding spoons” for the dessert course to keep the look interesting and fresh.
Create a color scheme — black, white and yellow or black, white and red, or just pink! Coordinate a color so everything matches. Pink flowers, pink drinks, pink dishes and punch it up with silver.
More is more in romantic styling so when you’re doing a dinner party, set the hall table to announce your theme by creating a vignette with your tabletop elements — a glass filled with the “themed” drink, votives and a single bloom in a vase set in front of a mirror on the foyer table.
n Adventurous: Use bold, rich colors to set the tone of your adventurous table (deep blues, oranges, deep reds, mustards, browns) in the form of nontraditional tablecloths and napkins, a favorite chenille bedspread, a vintage paisley shawl, an old silk curtain panel, vintage hand-spun linen, or antique, embroidered dishtowels.
Put flowers in unique containers such as in colorful coffee tins, old pharmaceutical bottles, stoneware pitchers or teapots, or in small buckets or tole ware. Pick a theme based on a country or continent and mix materials (copper, dark wicker, wood, and metal), patterns and emblematic colors and symbols of that region.
Float candles and flowers in odd-shaped vessels and create elaborate centerpieces out of natural finds: shells stacked in the middle of the table interspersed with candle pillars, votives and tea lights.
n Serene: When set, the serene table should look the visual equivalent of a dry martini, perfectly balanced, smooth and with architectural grace.
Keep the elements to a minimum: placemats on a marble, glass or wooden tabletop, simple folded napkins, matching flatware set just for the course about to be served. Since the elements are minimal, make them spectacular — artisan blown glassware, hand-woven placemats and napkins, or hand-thrown pottery.
Go organic with your color scheme with green linens, earth-toned dinnerware, clear stemware and natural elements as a centerpiece: birch bark candles, simple ferns in glass bottles or low trays of wheat grass or moss.
Celebrate the contrast of natural textures — wood and glass, pottery and silver, bamboo and porcelain — but keep the table uncluttered.
No matter if you’re setting the table in a romantic, adventurous or serene style, I believe some type of natural element — flowers, herbs, shells, ferns — and that all-important candlelight, are a must!
The rest is up to you and, remember, there are no rules when setting a beautiful table full of spice and personality.