Follow the Pattern is a brand new column from furniture maker and upholstery expert (and Home52's Resident Design Wiz), Nicole Crowder. Nicole is here to show us how to breathe new life into old furniture, reuse and repurpose materials, take chances with color and pattern—and develop a signature aesthetic. Today, she shares her holiday table ideas.
This time of year is when I get my creative second wind—when I am consumed by inspiration and creative energy as electric as the holiday lights and bulbs lining trees and window frames. There’s nothing quite like a season that is centered around my favorite rituals of gathering and dining together, but with a little extra festive flair—a happy excuse to dress up my home and my mother’s table with new ideas and themes.
For Food52 this year, I wanted to design a holiday table that evoked a moody but warm harvest. This year is about reaping the seeds that were sown last year, and in previous years—our harvest is (hopefully) more of us being able to gather around the table together. The idea was to achieve this through incorporating mixed prints and contrasting fabrics that shared a similar color palette. I wanted to make the elements feel grounded by using darker colors like smoked glass, chestnut orange, and cayenne. I picked floral printed ceramic plates over a dark backdrop to make food pop against the warmth of the tablecloth.
Here are some of the ideas that sparked this Thanksgiving setting. I hope you’re able to take some of these away and share them with loved ones around your holiday table.
As the name denotes, a centerpiece is the star of the table: the very thing around which the rest of your table decor will revolve and course through. Try inverting a wreath that you would normally put on your door on your table to turn it into a centerpiece that can be filled with berries, fruits, and dried flowers.
Create a more personalized touch to your table by DIY-ing a few extra vases for displaying fall and winter florals. Turn any vessel in your home into a vase by painting it over with a mix of a couple of tablespoons of baking powder, water, and the paint color of your choice (try warm fall tones like pumpkin, cayenne, yellow, or brown). The mixture creates a faux terracotta effect on your vases—it also allows you to repurpose common items in your home.
This year, try going bold with your tablecover and runners! These are what build the base for your table against which all else will pop. Don’t be afraid to mix contrasting prints or colors, either. I love using patterns that are in the same family like geometric prints or using all abstract prints or going all floral—it helps the eye orient itself a bit better. Your friends and family will turn the corner and see an unexpected pop of color on your table that’s as tantalizing as the food itself.
If you’re feeling more cautious, you can go with a bolder tablecloth and a more muted table runner, so that your table doesn’t feel too overwhelming. I also like to go with heavyweight cotton versus linen just because it lays flatter and doesn't wrinkle as much.
When it comes to glassware my motto is "more is more". I love coming to a dining table and seeing it full of glassware options in different sizes and styles. It also signals to your guests that they should linger a while and enjoy themselves with many different drink options—they don’t all have to be alcoholic, either.
Glassware doesn’t have to be costly: I source a lot of my glasses from second-hand antique shops because I love to mix and match designs—and if I know that I am having a lot of guests over it can be pretty cost-effective. Also, glassware looks great in just about any type of lighting, and the shimmer of so many disparate glasses on the table creates an elegant mood all of its own.
Gift boxes for place cards
Who doesn’t love a little surprise in a pretty box? I like to use small holiday gift boxes (like a jewelry box) as place cards for people to know where they are sitting at the table. I write the person’s name on the box and dress it with a bow or holiday-themed ribbon, and then place it on or next to their plate. For an even more special surprise, fill the box with a small tea candle that your guests can then light and place on the table for extra-warm ambience.
The key is to add as many personal touches to your holiday table that reflect both you and your home. These ideas are meant to be no-fuss, easy, and customizable so that you can put your signature on what will undoubtedly be a signature occasion.
In this photo, left to right: Siren Song Floral Print Melamine Plates (Antwerp B). Farmhouse Pottery Handturned Wood Candlestick. The Floral Society Lovely Taper Candles (Miel). Creekside Farms Feather & Wheat Harvest Wreath.
Nicole also took some of these table-setting ideas and applied them to this table that hosted our Residents' Thanksgiving menu. Have you checked it out yet? It's the potluck to end all potlucks. It's the Residentsgiving.
In this photo, left to right: Bombabird Ceramics Handmade Textured Bud Vases. Hawkins New York Essential Serving Bowl (Mustard). MADRE Linen Napkins (Avocado). Creekside Farms Feather & Wheat Harvest Wreath. Casafina Just-Add-the-Turkey Thanksgiving Set (Platter).