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posted: 3/30/2013 1:00 AM

Spring tablescapes celebrate new beginnings

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  • Blue-and-white transferware china looks fabulous with a bohemian yellow salad plate sliced in.

      Blue-and-white transferware china looks fabulous with a bohemian yellow salad plate sliced in.
    SHNS photo courtesy Nell Hill's

 
By Mary Carol Garrity
Scripps Howard News Service

There is something magical about eating together, isn't there?

In this day of hustle and bustle, where we often grab dinner from a drive-through window, it fills our hearts to pause for a moment and enjoy a home-cooked meal in someone's home.

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This spring, connect with people you love over a meal in your home. And, of course, you'll want a tablescape beautifully dressed for the occasion.

Here are some ideas to get you started.

Table 1: Beautiful Blooms

A delightful tablescape bursting with charm -- fresh and light, yet infused with enough layers to make it intriguing. Blue, white and yellow just sing when they are brought together, especially in spring. For this treatment, we decided to soften up a formal table and formal glass hurricane by weaving in fanciful accessories. Try having a wild-fern wreath encircling the hurricane. It makes for a visually dramatic but easy-to-produce centerpiece treatment.

Blue-and-white transferware china looks fabulous with a bohemian yellow salad plate sliced in. When I look at such a table, the first thing I see is this burst of marigold, and it makes me smile. When I create place settings, I like to make them tall and dramatic with a stack of interesting dishes and a surprise topper. Consider decorating the summit with intriguing ceramic vases, which serve as unusual napkin holders. These little vases also look sensational holding a few flowers, like three day lilies.

Pretty stemware is a wonderful addition. So as not to distract from the simplicity of the table, we went with clear glass. But blue goblets would also be lovely. Think about having little yellow flower-shaped votive holders tucked in by each place setting. When I decorate tables, I like to weave in little surprises. Votive cups, little sunbursts of color, could hold a candle or be used as salt cellars.

Table 2: Fun and Fresh

You cannot miss with green and white on a tabletop, especially in spring. It's fresh, fun and infused with energy and excitement. For this option, we went for a contemporary feel bursting with pep, then shook things up a bit by working in a few organic elements, like wicker chargers.

Get ready -- gold is back! A surprising glass plate edged in gold adds a bit of glam to our hip place setting. To top off this relatively simple stack of plates, we picked funky little lidded pots. You could put a battery-operated candle inside for a dramatic presentation for a late-night meal. Or, insert some candy for guests to enjoy after the meal.

I love to dress up the chandelier with greens and trimmings. Or if there is no light fixture, you can also suspend decorative elements over the table. For this treatment, we took spring wreaths, turned them on the horizontal, then hung them like a light fixture over the table.

Table 3: Tradition Revisited

I have friends who are lucky enough to have inherited china from their mothers and grandmothers, lovely old patterns with intricate designs. But they are stymied by how to use these vintage pieces to create a more contemporary design on their tabletop. We took up that challenge on a romantic table that has the charm of yesteryear and the energy of today.

Our first step toward giving a floral china pattern a newer vibe was to pair it with some of today's hottest colors: apple green and coral. We scored with our stack of chargers, which not only gave us loads of saturated color, they also brought in interesting finishes and shapes. A square white plate is a favorite of mine because you can reinvent it over and again on your tablescapes. A zippy green charger is melamine and inexpensive. It's a fun addition for spring and summer entertaining.

Cloche-covered risers are drama queens. Perch one on top of a place setting and, presto! the scene just became magical. We put a fun little faux plant under the bell jar on our table. But you could also use them to hold a decorated cupcake for dessert. I really enjoy using place cards when I entertain because I think they make guests feel extra-special to see their names beautifully inscribed on cards. Try having little place cards tied to the top of cloches with beautiful spring ribbon.

Table 4: Cosmopolitan Garden Party

A more sophisticated take on a garden themed-table. Sleek, contemporary and stylish, it has a more cosmopolitan feel that I love. Consider our centerpiece -- a treatment that is so simple to create yet will knock guests' socks off because it is so bold. We took a simple metal trellis and placed it over a tall white vase holding faux greens. Done.

The place settings on this table echo strong structural lines, bold black-and-white patterns that complement one another and create layers of intrigue.

I had to have a bit of whimsy. So we added faux succulent plants to the mix, using a little glass riser as a stage, then enshrined them under a cloche. The pop of green is a nice contrast to the black-and-white palette.

• Adapted from Mary Carol Garrity's blog at nellhills.com.

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