(WTNH) - Lifestyle expert Mar Jennings shows us how to bring the outdoors in with beautiful, rustic table decorations that are sure to wow your guests.
The following information was provided by our guest:
I love to entertain, and setting a fabulous table is an essential part of establishing the ambiance, creating anticipation for a memorable experience that is to come—and at times can even pardon any food faux pas that may occur. Recently, I decided that I would focus on creating a complete tabletop design dedicated to Mother Earth.
So with Mother Nature by my side and my Hunter boots on my feet I wandered in my gardens for insight and inspiration. I took the time to notice the various colors and textures of green—from the pale, emerald new growth on the boxwoods to the dark, rich, deep green of the holly leaves. I was particularly infatuated with texture and colors of the moss growing perfectly in the shade garden. At that very moment I pondered to think how I could introduce this rich color and texture to my dining table without bringing Mother Natures’ little critters along the way. I fell into a “green” vortex for a moment and when I awoke I was enriched with a vision.
A lot like a four season garden, a MARvelous table design has to also offer four distinct levels of interest. The first: a tablecloth and/or placemats will always be the foundation; second:
interesting plates layered for each course; third: a centerpiece that comes just under eye level; and finally four: candlesticks that are tall but do not obstruct the view of other diners. Four to score—it’s that simple. This four-level table design concept from yours truly creates many opportunities to include the endless resources from Mother Nature’s outdoors, thus becoming what I like to call an “au natur’elle” table design.
The first step in any well-planned table design is deciding on a table covering or going au natural. I like to use interesting placemats that provide texture to my tablescape allowing me to show off the actual table. This is the essential component of table décor, i.e., what goes under the plate. The tablescape starts here so why not get creative from the start.
Recently for a garden tour, I felt compelled to put this “all green” philosophy tablescape to the test.
I began by creating a moss placemat for eat person. This is an easy project when you have the right moss to work with. I discovered at my local garden center “SuperMoss” which offers a single sheet of moss that rolls out like wallpaper, already affixed to a backing. Eureka! SuperMoss I my new BFF as I can use it for everything, from lining a hanging basket to creating a wall covering in the studio. Yet the best use for me was creating six circular placemats. The process was easy, by simply taking an existing placemat and a marker, you can trace an outline in your desired shape, then simply cut it out. With the mesh rubber backing you need to worry about ripping our tearing.
A leaf from an Oak Leaf Hydrangea can make an amazing extension of the moss placemat—because they have a great size, pretty shape, and are quite flat. I like to place them on the charger plate under the napkin, off to the side under the silverware or under the centerpiece. (In the photo you can see both the leaf and the moss placemat used together.)
Every table needs a centerpiece, large or small. However, for this centerpiece I chose to go with the green-on-green tones to compliment my garden. So often we think of flowers for the table, but a bunch of hosta leaves, boxwood, ornamental grasses, hydrangea branches or even azalea clippings all bunched together in a bouquet create an inviting and spectacular green display. It was certainly a hit during the garden tour.
NAPKINS & NAPLIN RINGS:
I always prefer a natural linen or cotton napkin. There simply is no alternative—especially if you are going for the “au natur’elle” theme. It’s definitely worth having them starched as they look and feel so nice on the table. For a napkin ring, I went to the hardware store and purchased garden twine as I wanted a natural, organic alternative. It comes in various thicknesses and natural colors. Take three strands, and knot them together leaving a bit at the end for fringe. Then, braid the three strands together and knot this end, again leaving a bit at the end for fringe. Don’t limit yourself to garden twine though; any twine will do.
Take the napkin square and gather it in the middle with one hand.
Tie the twine around the napkin once in a single knot. Place the napkin off to the side of the plate.
This is also great for large parties where, as an alternative, you can roll the flatware in the napkin and tie it with the twine and place them all in a basket or galvanized bucket.
Another idea is to take a flower head and float it in an ice cream dish or shallow glass bowl, and place one per place setting it in the center of the topmost plate. When dinner starts,