Tables of Content

It’s time to unpack the fine china and put that formal dining room to good use.
Take some ideas from these three festive tabletops and create a memorable feast

Natural Beauty

Jodi Feinhor-Dennis, owner of Nesting Home Design in Boulder, creates a spread that’s cool, but never cold—with natural touches that bring in holiday warmth.

photo by J Curtis

Setting the Table: In keeping with the eco-savvy aesthetic of Nesting Home, a full interior design showroom, Feinhor-Dennis built her design around what most people cover up: “The table was the starting point,” she says. “Its monochromatic eco-sensibility really shines through, especially for fall.” From there, the spread evolved as the designer sought to create an eclectic, nature-inspired collage. “I bought flowers and candies and oranges that I thought would add to the tabletop aesthetic, but in the end, I discovered that greens, blues and browns were much more soothing and calming.” This approach mirrors her advice for all of us as we set out to dress up our holiday tables: “Have an aesthetic, not a theme.”

The Festive Flourishes: “The best option was a set of white oval plates contrasting with the woods. They just pop right off, then the brown bowls balance them out,” she says. The rock runner in the center of the table upstaged the idea of placemats, so Jodi opted to showcase the texture of the wood, along with other natural elements: pears, for their brilliance, and extra large pinecones that have “a unique sculptural and textural quality.” Against the backdrop of neutral hues, “it’s the little hits of color that pull your eye across the table,” Feinhor-Dennis says. And for a touch of finery, she recommends that you “find something that’s a jewelry piece.” Here, the Michael Aram handcrafted Twigware from Peppercorn in Boulder brings just the right amount of sparkle.

Why It Works: “You can’t go wrong when you add earthy elements to a project,” Feinhor-Dennis says. “If you look at the table, there’s a layering of the woods and the rocks and the texture of the pinecones; then the smoothness of the plates rounds out the whole package. It’s really great to do a more sophisticated slant on the holidays so it’s not just the typical glitz.”

Flowering Festivity
The creative team at Happy Canyon Flowers—owner Kay Hall, Desie Yoder and Amy Keating—use a gorgeous variety of flowers to create an illustrious tablescape full of texture and dimension

photo by Martin Crabb

Setting the Table: “First of all, we decided that it would be a winter, festive look, using all white, green, silver and cream,” Hall says. “Then we hand-selected all of the flowers at the local market and began the search for texture and color.” She and her team graced the table with more than 15 varieties of plants—from orchids to brazilia berry to rare white protea—all arranged in foam and skirted with moss. In the six-piece candelabra, the designers put bouquets in two of the candle holders, bringing height, dimension and a unique twist to the spread. “Place several down a table and then there’s something for everyone to look at,” Hall suggests.

The Festive Flourishes: In the spirit of Colorado, pinecones appear throughout the tablescape—oversized, in the shape of the silver-plated candlesticks, on the stemware and in the napkin rings, which were created by the florists themselves. (Miniature cones are bound in wire and attach to the bundle with a leaf and ribbon.) Each place setting also has a miniature cyclamen, potted in a silver votive holder, for guests to take home.

Why It Works: When asked to share her favorite part of the design, Hall answers: “I have to say the texture. There’s all kinds of great texture when working with products that are more natural.” But her team’s tablescapes do more than just look pretty. “We love to do interesting tables because it really stimulates conversation among guests if they’re not already acquainted. There’s something right there in front of them to talk about.”

Play up the Merriment

“When you invite guests over, it’s like theater; you have to entertain,” says Carrie Vadas,
co-owner with Charlotte Elich of Denver boutique 5 green boxes. Here, she stages a tabletop fit for a lighthearted gathering—with punchy colors, whimsical touches and a not-so-serious attitude

photo by Martin Crabb

Setting the Table: “The strategy for us was to take the existing dinnerware we use year after year and show how to change it affordably,” Vadas says. She paired her inherited silver with white dinnerware, placed atop dressy gold lacquered acrylic plates. Instead of placemats, Vadas cut out rectangles of wrapping paper with colorful, graphic prints, and to ground the centerpiece, she took a turquoise mirror from its everyday perch on the wall, placed it on the table and created the vignette on top of it. The whole thing shimmers. “We wanted to inspire people to dress up what they have,” she says.

The Festive Flourishes: By using an array of unlikely touches, Vadas’ table delights through surprise. For starters, there are the peacock feathers across the table. “I just thought they were a very holiday image,” she says of the plumage. These whimsical touches make her table accessible and fun. “I like to personalize the table by putting secret things on it.” Here, notice the “poppers,” crafted in the style of the British: little gifts, wrapped in paper and tied with lovely French ribbon, that pop open to reveal a small present or fortune.

Why It Works: “It’s happy. It’s fun—a guarantee to put everyone in a real social mood.” And to provoke silliness, Vadas says, “I always put the silverware on the wrong side. People laugh.”

Categories: Entertaining, Interiors