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    Set the Mood, Set the Table

    tuxBesides a delicious meal, creating a beautiful table is part of the “gift” a host gives his/her guests. A pretty tablescape enhances the mood as well as works to elevate the overall experience of the evening. The tablescapes I do for clients and myself are meant to be dramatic, but none of them are out of your reach.

    Laying out a tablescape is very much like designing a room: you need a color story, strong foundational pieces as well as accessories and accents that support your overall theme. Here are some quick rules that I follow when putting together a tablescape:

    Think about what you already have.

    When I go shopping, I think about the decorations I already have when deciding what to purchase. Groupings of similar objects, whether they be by color, shape or material, create a larger impact than a single object. Do you already have two glass candlesticks and see one on sale? Buy it, even if it doesn’t match! It will be worth the investment when you are able to pick and choose from a variety of candlesticks of varying heights to create a layered look.


    Borrow from your momma.

    Don’t be above using other people’s stuff to create a show-stopping table. Have you been coveting your best friend’s Waterford crystal and have an important dinner coming up? Borrow them! No one has to know that they aren’t yours. Just remember that when you borrow someone’s precious and undoubtedly expensive table items, you incur the risk of breakage. So, go by the rule: if you can’t afford to replace it, then you shouldn’t borrow it.

    It doesn’t have to match.

    People get hung up on sets and I am here to tell you, get over it! You don’t need to have a matching set of anything to have a dynamo table. I tend to buy in sets of 2,3 or 6 when shopping for plates, glasses or table settings, since the maximum amount of people my table holds is 6. By shopping in these increments, I can mix and match patterns to create interesting color, pattern and texture stories that look intentional.

    Floral arrangements aren’t central.

    I tend to shy away from expensive centerpieces for my table settings. I cheat by buying a mixed bouquet and placing it in an interesting container or vase and bam! Instant centerpiece.


    Courtney Lake is the interior designer and lifestyle expert behind Monogram Décor ( and his celebrated blog, Courtney Out Loud. He and his work have been featured both in print and on television, including coverage by “The Wall Street Journal,” “The Nate Berkus Show,” the “San Francisco Chronicle,” “Life & Style Magazine,” “RUE Magazine” and “7×7 Magazine.”