Mix and match colorful dishes, linens

04/12/2014 7:39 AM

04/13/2014 10:50 AM

Light and breezy, super easy. That’s a good motto when it comes to setting a stunning table for Easter. Effective spring tablescapes are filled with intriguing layers and a beguiling combination of colors, yet they feel airy and fresh. Here are five ways to achieve this delicate balance.

1. Use vessels and vases in the centerpiece.

A phalanx of three glass compotes will hold graceful tulip bouquets, inexpensive cash-and-carry bouquets you can grab at the florist or grocery store. Keep vessels like these at your table’s center year-round, so all you need to do is add a seasonal flourish right before guests arrive.

Here’s the same idea, executed a little differently: A ceramic jar is the focal point, with a constellation of small vases holding a single spring bloom surrounding it. Small-mouthed vases require no floral-arranging skills. If you don’t have time to get flowers before your party, substitute a sprinkling of votives.

Have a few more minutes? Here’s a display inspired by Beatrix Potter: Start with a riser. Place an arresting collection of items on top, such as a bunny holding a placard featuring the menu or a greeting to guests. Vertical space in the background can be filled with a lovely vase holding a spray of faux spring foliage.

2. Ground each place setting on a charger.

If you like to entertain or just want a table that fills your senses as much as your stomach, invest in three sets of chargers. One should be a fun and inexpensive color burst that gives the table a jolt of energy, like kicky green plastic chargers for spring.

The second must-have set? Anything that features organic materials, such as wicker placemats. I love to pair these twiggy mats with fine china to shake things up.

The third set? Something that goes with everything, such as wood chargers. You can take these anywhere from ultra-formal to casual just by combining them with different dishes.

3. Make magic with your dishes.

If you have just one set, I recommend timeless white dishes. Then, as your budget and cupboard space allow, invest in accent dishes that allow you to transform the look of these chameleons.

If you are lucky enough to have dishes that have been passed down through your family, or you’ve collected pieces through the years, mix them into your spring table. Even patterns that feel stuffy or dated can be reborn when paired with newer, fresher colors and designs.

4. Layer in seasonal linens.

I keep a few interesting 52-inch square tablecloths in my linen drawer that I can use to create a few different looks on my table. Turned on the diagonal at the center of the table, they break up the wood and add a shot of color, texture and pattern.

Pick a few sets of cloth napkins that go well with your table toppers. Stark white napkins look crisp and clean. Seasonal napkins are also an ideal way to add a bit of color and pattern to your table and create a multilayered look.

5. Finish with complementary flatware and stemware.

The most important set you can have is a go-with-everything basic. Then, as storage space and budget allow, add a few extra looks, like a set with colorful porcelain handles or faux antlers or bamboo. How about an odd assortment of vintage silver or silver plate?

For a clean, crisp look, use an assortment of clear glass goblets, perhaps working pieces that have slightly different designs, such as an etched pattern or a gold rim. Or have some fun by mixing together different-colored stemware to pull in the various colors featured in your tablescape.

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