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3 Elements of the Perfectly Set Table

Updated: Dec 16, 2019

On Friday, November 8th SGA Designs was featured at The Giving Tables, hosted by the Country Club of the South Charity Guild at The Atlanta Athletic Club. The SGA Designs team came up with a plan to highlight the possibilities that classical, formal place settings still have in our informal, modern world. By using elegant florals, found objects, heirloom pieces we had on hand, formal china, crystal, and unpolished sterling silver, we created an eclectic, contemporary table-scape that wowed the crowd but didn't break the bank. Here are the 3 elements that helped us do it!

1. Start with a Fabulous Fabric.

One important item to build your table-scape from is the table skirt, layover and/or runner. For this design we blended a white linen with a textured velvet to create the formal, yet contemporary organic look we wanted. The linen had a hint of variation in color creating a slightly texture look, while the nature of the structured linen held the formality of a more traditional table cloth. We used the linen as our base layover. The textured velvet had a strong geometric pattern that was loose and casual. The combination blended the classical and casual, organic in a contemporary way. We created a double runner of the textured velvet that crisscrossed in the center of our table. To actualize this design, we had new items made from fabrics sourced from GumTree Fabrics, however this same feel could easily be created with items acquired at a store or things existing in your home (or by collaborating with your designer!).

2.Use Your China, Crystal and Silver.

So often when we want to create a contemporary table design, we automatically throw out our more formal dinnerware. The items we were gifted for our weddings, inherited from our grandmothers, or fell in love with a few years ago at that antique sale, sit stored in an out of the way space, never to be used again. What a sad fate! At my house, we use our sterling silver every day! Why have these things if not to use them? Blend them with contemporary items for an updated look!

For our table scape our team chose to use the china that I received for my wedding, Simply Anna by Anna Weatherly. It's white, has a gold touch around the rim, and tone on tone accents that pay homage to formal china of times-gone-by. It's round but not geometric, and feels a bit more organic in it's essence; this was the perfect base to our place setting.

For our salad plate, we wanted to compliment the geometric design of the fabric runners and bring in a more contemporary accent. We found a round, black salad plate with a bold geometric design on Amazon to pair with the organic, formal dinner plate.

Next we pulled out our Lismore by Waterford crystal wine and water goblets. We then paired the setting with our Gorham Strasbourg sterling silver, and finished the place setting with a freshly picked magnolia leaf from the garden.

The whole look combined geometric and organic shapes with a blend of formal and casual elements.

All of these things were on hand items that we inherited, were gifted, or grew (with the exception of the accent plate)!

3. Pair a Stunningly Simple Floral with Found Objects.

I knew I wanted to work with orchids, white orchids to be specific. Besides the fact that I grow them in my sunroom, (we sourced new ones for the event), I find them to be an elegant but fairly simple addition to most any floral arrangement. They provide a touch of contemporary glam while keeping that traditional organic essence. I prefer to keep them intact, meaning I do not cut them, and place them in new pots or as you will see, sans pots. Orchids, although expensive can be reused if kept potted, and are readily available most places.

For the centerpiece arrangement, one of our team suggested a Thai Vine Sculpture from Sleepy Hollow Antiques that we had on hand. It mimics the orchid roots, provides an organic asymmetrical aspect, adds height, and provides structure to the center of the table. In the center of the table we placed a dark square wood tray to ground the sculpture. We then were able to build the arrangement by weaving orchids into the nooks and crannies of the sculpture. We added a hint of moss to the arrangement to make it feel more natural.

After completing the centerpiece, we surrounded it with found objects that we commandeered from various accessories collections, as well as a few supplemented pieces acquired specifically for this event.

This African Tribal Boat Sculpture has been something my family has had for many years. The ceramic pot to the left is from an artist commune in Mexico that I found at Scott Antique Market two months ago. The mud-clay pot directly behind the African sculpture is a hand made treasure, given to one of our team members by their World Vision Sponsor Child in Africa. We used two other pieces gifted from our team member's sponsor child in the design as well. We finished this grouping with a black and white tile framed in gold leaf that was picked up at an antique market several years back.

For our next grouping, we used selenite on iron to add pops of white throughout and create added height variation. The selenite also added a more geometric, natural element to the design. We used an additional ceramic piece from the Mexican artist's and accented it with a floating potted orchid. This trio was finished with a whimsical asymmetrical mini-vase.

The two additional groupings included various items similar to those shown.

The idea is to create a focal point- centerpiece from readily available florals and items that you have on had. After the main centerpiece is created, design the accents around found objects or heirloom pieces that you have around your home. Create a design using as many items available to you, supplementing with a few new things where necessary.

The final element to any table-scape one may consider is the chairs. In this instance we had complete control over our chairs, and chose ones that would compliment the design. When possible consider the base items in a room while developing a table-scape scene.

When designing a table-scape, it is important to consider three main element ideas; 1. Start with fabulous fabric, 2. Use your china, crystal and sterling silver (use what you have!). 3. Pair simple florals with objects from around your home (and supplement where needed).

The main take away is; it is entirely possible to use a formal place setting in a more contemporary design!

Bye for Now!


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