Image via Bergdorf Goodman

     I admit that I can have design ADD when it comes to my own place. I've had an especially hard time keeping a cohesive theme when it comes to my table setting (namely, because my "plan" has been to buy whatever I like and pray that it all works together) so I thought I'd create a mood board to keep me focused. And that means I can share my creative process with you! I pretty much approach table settings with the same logic that I do rooms. So, the very first thing I do in all of my creative endeavors is to curate a collection of inspirational images. Here's some of what's been tickling my fancy.

Left: Image by Ralph Lauren Home via Habitually Chic. Right: Image via Pinterest.

Left: Image via Pinterest. Right: Image by Elle Decor via Kristen Laird Design.

      At first glance, the images don't seem to have a unifying theme. And that's okay. When you're collecting your inspiration, don't worry about a theme. Let your imagination run wild, and I promise you'll find the line of logic somewhere in it all. Take mine for instance. Although this is just a sample of what I've been inspired by, you can already see that gold, graphic prints and blues are dominant themes. Since I am, of course, perpetually in love with all things blue and white and black and gold, this makes perfect sense. These are pretty reliable starting points for me, as time has proven that I don't tire of these schemes (so there's a good chance I won't get bored and eventually declare I hate everything). I've also been obsessively toying with integrating Hermes-inspired orange into the mix, as pictured above. I'll keep all these things in mind when I move onto my next step, which is to consider the basic elements of the dining room.

Fabric: Purchased at Calico Corners many moons ago. Wall Color: Repose Gray by Sherwin Williams. Klismos Chair: 1st Dibs (No longer available). Louis Ghost Chair: Philippe Starck for Kartell, $410.  Rug: Thom Filicia, starting at $95. Drum Pendant: CB2, $60. Dining Table: Lover's Lounge (UK), $760. Note: The Klismos chair, dining table and fabric are not the actual ones in my dining room. Mine are very similar, but much cooler. :) For instance, my dining table is oval and has handpainted gold accents. My Klismos chairs have two crossed arrows carved on the back and also have lovely gold accents. And the zebra print fabric on my Klismos chairs is actually subtly iridescent. The wall color, Ghost chair, rug and drum pendant in the image above are the actual ones in my dining room.

     Your table setting is the jewelry of the ensemble that is your dining room. You don't want clashing! (At least not in the wrong way.) Just like your jewelry does for your outfit, you want your to table setting to be the perfect complement, which means it should echo or highlight the established design themes in your dining room. Lucky for me, I have a pretty neutral color scheme, which makes the color possibilities for my table setting pretty vast. However, as you can see, I've already established a mix of modern meets traditional in my furnishings, rug and lighting. I think it makes sense to echo that design theme in my table setting. Based on my design theme and my inspirational table settings above, here's what I've come up with.

Napkins: Serena & Lily, $38 for s/4. Dinner plates: Z Gallerie, $40 for s/4. Tumblers (No longer available, price is for double old fashioned): Cru Intl by Darbie Angell, $30/ea. Candlestick Holders, Bliss Studio, $213/ea. Salad Plates: Crate & Barrel, $3/ea. Tea cup: Spode Dinnerware, $9/ea. Teaspoon: Villeroy & Boch, $9/ea. Salad Bowl, C. Wonder, $68. Sugar Bowl: Michael Aram, $80. Creamer: Royal Doulton, $165.

Here are a few reliable tips you can use when planning your table setting:
     Pick a Palette: Much like you choose your wall, ceiling, moldings, and accent colors in a room, your table setting should have similar logic. I like to use a four color formula:
  • The primary (dominant) color - The color of your dining table (or table cloth, if you'll use one) is the most dominant color in your table setting. Everything starts from this color.
  • The secondary color - If the dominant color is 40% of what you're seeing, then the secondary color is 30%. Which means--you need to really like this one. In my case, my table is black, which is wonderful, because it's neutral. I've also opted for black placemats. Why so much black? Because my accent colors will seem that much brighter, injecting much needed pops of color into my dining room, without veering too frightfully from the neutral palette. Also, black works with every season AND it hides stains! In my case, blue becomes the secondary color, since it's repeated on my napkins and tea cups.
  • Two Accent Colors - Apply these two colors to your table's accessories, such as chargers, napkins, tumblers, goblets, tea cups, etc. My table setting's accent colors are gold and orange.
     Word to the wise: Stick with neutral colored dinner plates. I prefer white or ivory, because you can create an entirely new look whenever you get bored by simply switching out your chargers or salad plates. They also work with every season, which is important to keep in mind as we approach the holidays.
     Play with Pattern: This is where your personality shines through. Does your home have an ecelectic traveler vibe? How about mixing lattice and ikat prints? Are you a traditionalist? Then stripes and damask, perhaps? I've got a bit of Charlotte-York-meets-Jonathan-Adler going on--which is how you're seeing transferware, polka dots, and graphic tribal prints in the same setting.
     Something Old, Something New: They say the key to making a great room is to avoid buying everything at once. Rather, it's best to let the room evolve with you, as it'll be a genuine--and therefore more satisfying--representation of who you are. Apply this same notion to your table setting, and break out something your treasure. Grandma's beloved collection of tea cups, perhaps? Or that lovely silver gravy boat, even if to repurpose it as a vase. I use my grandmother's etched water goblets and turquoise and gold trimmed champagne glasses as often as possible, and fondly recall what an elegant lady she was every time.
     Add an Objet: Every space needs the sponteneity of art.  Do the same for your table setting and throw a quirky objet d'art into the mix. Bird shaped salt and pepper shakers? Or how 'bout my apple honey pot come sugar bowl, which I chose for it's Snow White reference? (I'll let you in on a little secret: The inside of my mind looks a lot like Toontown in "Who Framed Roger Rabbit?", except add more rainbows and unicorns.) Whatever it is, let it be a unique expression or who you are, or even a representation of an inside joke you share with your family. With your table setting, and with your home in general, try to decorate with things that remind you of what makes you and yours happy.
And lastly:
     "To Thine Own Self Be True": If you're just not fine china people, don't try to be. Pretty melamine plates can be just as dynamic and do double duty for outdoor dining. Consider your lifestyle. Do you love to entertain and find at least one wine glass will not survive the evening? Forget the fancy gold trim and buy your wine glasses at CB2 for like $4 a pop. You'll never risk ire for an otherwise good friend. At the end of the day, your stuff should not be more precious to you than your people. And, it is always wise to invest in a table setting that you and yours can truly enjoy every single day.

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