Wednesday, December 16

"Table Talk" Demonstration and Discussion from Tamara Stephenson and Susan Young of Root Cellar Designs

Six Tips from "The Material Girls" of Root Cellar Designs 
To Set a Festive Holiday Table
We are grateful for the generous press lately, and especially for the newly coined phrase gifted to us by writer extraordinaire Saxon Henry when she dubbed us the "Material Girls" in her profile about Root Cellar Designs.  Please read Saxon's story about us in Productrazzi.  As you may know, Susan Young and I host myriad tabletop, black tie and gala events for special occasions and many for a philanthropic cause, and all the while showing ways to use our unique and colorful table linens.  All of this decorating has lead us to a new series we are rolling out called Table Talk.   We will host fun and creative talks about how to entertain in your home.  First stop on the Table Talk schedule is tomorrow evening at the Westport Historical Society in Westport, Connecticut.  Please see details above, and we hope to see you then as you take time away from wrapping presents to sip bubbly with us and share in a tabletop demonstration and discussion.  Let us show you some fun, and creative ways to bring a sense of whimsy to your home and table this holiday season.
Set in a lovely historic home in Westport, Ct., we think our custom designed fabric and tabletop collections will work perfectly in this space, but since our fabrics have unusual color combinations and a modern vision, they compliment a contemporary home as well.  After the demonstration, we will offer some of our holiday goodies for sale.  If you cannot make our event in person, we've put together these top tips to help you host a fabulous celebration, and please feel free to tab this story on your desktop to tap back into when you need a creative idea or two.  Remember to keep it fun and stylish but thinking a little bit out of the box for holiday entertaining.  We hope your holiday table and home is filled with love, happiness and health!  Please stop into root cellar designs' Holiday Shop to pick up our selections of table linens, pillows, tea towels and cocktail coasters.

Happy Holidays
Happy Nesting
XO Tamara
our table at the Lenox Hill black tie gala in Grand Central Station, Spring 2014
shows an all-white singular flower throughout, a white rose. 

we decorated the tables for the Flawless Foundation fundraiser at the historic Burden Mansion in New York City, Winter 2012.  Again, the all white roses in a rounded hand bouquets with green leaves is an elegant and simple arrangement.
We like low, all one color and simple yet unusual and sophisticated
  Whenever possible we like to arrange flowers on a dinner table set low and allowing a clear vision around the table for guests to keep the conversation flowing.  Sometimes we wield these hugely tall centerpiece arrangements for our black tie gala events because the event calls for extra drama, but when entertaining at home, we most often opt to keep it low and often with one type of flower and sometimes all one color. On that note, even the most elegant table shines with a simple flower arrangement.  Take note above how we decorated this tall centerpiece in Cipriani's Grand Central Station ballroom, and we used an all white color and simple white roses arranged in vases for a sophisticated look.  For holiday tables, a single variety of flower in abundance, like all red hydrangea in a long narrow container can make for a dramatic statement that doesn't require one to be a professional floral designer.  

Go bold--for the Holidays, more is more!  
We have come to think of certain color combinations as holiday (green and red), but when hosting a holiday fete create a festive atmosphere by using vivid and unusual patterns and color palettes together.  For our recent holiday table at the Harmonie Club for the annual Holiday Bash benefiting Hope Lodge, we created a trio of patterns in an bright orange and blue combination--this color we call Orange Punch and it works nicely with pale blue.  We created a Chinoiserie toile and combined three different size scales of fabrics on the table.  By varying the scales of these patterns, this trio of fabrics in Punch and Sky Blue together feels festive!

we stacked three different plates together for a layered look.  top is an antique blue and white; middle is Spode; third is a plate from Anthropologie.
Bring your finest patterns, silver and crystal out, then mix it with vintage wares from flea markets and everyday dishes.  By combining the finer bone china with more casual plates and glass ware and vintage pieces, the table starts to feel artistic, warm and welcoming and more interesting, yet even more sophisticated than the usual formally set table. Don't be afraid to mix metals for a beautiful table - we like to combine copper, gold and silver together on one table design.

left:  lacquer tray with squash and pumpkins for Thanksgiving , 2011
right:  painted gold leaves for New Year Table, 2013
We combined handmade nests with tiny chalkboard name cards on wooden place mats
at Art of The Table, 2014 

left:  our table set for Design On A Dime 2014 potted herbs throughout
right; Stamford Beautification gala with gold-tipped feathers; Pink Lady hand towels, root cellar designs
This tip is all about thinking outside the box and using items not usually seen on a set table to create drama.  Your table and home sets the tone for how you want to approach the holiday season, so make it dramatic and playful.   We love to mix in bowls of clementines, lemons, pomegranates or even pine cones to bring in a natural feel and juxtapose that with all the glamorous silver and china on the table.  When I decorated a table for the kitchen showroom Bilotta and TRADITIONAL HOME magazine's 2014 Art of The Table, we used real handmade nests on the table. We like sprigs of rosemary or herbs tied onto the napkin and sometimes even acorns in the Fall.  Sometimes we gather objects from our homes when setting a special table for a festive dinner party, helping to create unusual vignettes.  We like to use tin stars, feathers, obelisks, small inlaid boxes and wooden carved bowls and antique pottery vases on the table to bring a bit of drama and points of interest.  Stacking napkins in between the plates can also be a way to create a nice visual on the table, and of course there is never enough candles and votives on a holiday table.

our table Stamford Beautification, spring 2015
The Man table runner indigo
We have a long antique farmhouse dining table in our beach house.  The wood has great patina and we like to showcase it whenever possible.  Sometimes I utilize a long table runner down the center and leave the wood bare for a more casual yet stylish look.  When I do this I often bring in place mats or unusual chargers under the plates, like rattan, beaded or metal to work with the wood.

It is special to leave guests with a small parting favor or  gift.  Wrap it in a pretty gold or silver box.  Recently we left cocktail coasters on each place setting at a gala, another time we wrapped French chocolates.  Above we custom designed paper pinwheels in our fabric pattern croc and wrote the guests name on each one so they doubled as a name card.  These take-away gifts make your event memorable.