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With the start of wedding season and all the showers that accompany it — many of us are busy planning parties of one sort or another. Whatever the celebration, it will likely call for a table setting that rises to the occasion. This spring, stylish get-togethers are dishing up bold colour combos, exotic touches, DIY designs and the return of high tea. Those in favour, raise a pinky finger!

Formal Colour

Toronto designer Anne Hepfer created this place setting for H&H’s December 2010 issue. She had holiday in mind, but the tropical tangerine and hibiscus pink combo is hot-cha-cha for spring. The tablecloth isn’t a tablecloth at all, but a length of fabric she repurposed (clever!). Playful touches, like the butterfly napkin ring, make sure formal doesn’t feel stuffy.

Picnic Perfect

The current trend for honest, simple designs translates to the table in the form of craft paper placemats, crisp white plates and brushed gold flatware for a dash of glamour. Locavores will love this look, which takes inspiration from laissez-faire French style and the farm-to-table movement.

I spotted this setting on design*sponge, as part of a post on a rustic modern wedding shot by photographer Jose Villa. Easy and elegant, it’s a snap to replicate.

I’ve lauded eggs as decor before, and they’re beautiful used here as a centerpiece and placecard holders. Click here and here to download a template for the placemats.

When I ask people for their favourite flower — and as an editor at H&H, I do this a lot — peonies are probably the most popular. Their big oversized blooms are amazing, yes, but also pricey. This bouquet, fashioned by Alison of Coriander Girl, is a sweet alternative. Mixed bouquets are right on trend and the mason jar as vase fits the farm table aesthetic. (These were done for John and Juli’s wedding, the owners of Mjölk. Congrats guys! You can see more of their wedding pics here.)

Pale & Pretty

This is how I set my table for breakfast every morning. At least, it would be if I had stuck to the plan I hatched when I was 12 and married Prince William. Soft colours are synonymous with spring, but this take is sophisticated and elegant, not sugary sweet. Skipping a placemat sends a casual message, but fine china and exotic hits like the bamboo flatware elevate a bare table and give it a regal feel.

High Tea Tiers

Speaking of princes, my friend Sam recently celebrated his birthday with Royal Tea at the Windsor Arms Hotel. The prim and proper pastime inspired everyone to turn out in their Sunday best, giving the gathering an extra special feel. Fluffy scones, mini sandwiches and petits fours were shown off on traditional tiered plates that are easy to find at any price point.

Just this week, I received an email about a service in Toronto called Sweets in Style that will come to your house or venue and set up a sweets table for weddings, showers or high tea. Fees start at $12/person.

Chic & Crafty

I find that if you get too precious with the decorations for a gathering, it can lose its easy, welcoming feel. My advice: if it’s not a bridal shower or some equally monumental event, keep things simple. Friends will feel more relaxed and so will you. Still, a little effort can go a long way. These grass and egg place settings by craft queen Martha Stewart strike the right balance between clever vs. crazy, adorable vs. obsessive, fun vs. fanatical — you get my point.

Party on.

For more tabletop inspiration, see our Dining & Design content.

Photo credits:
1. House & Home December 2010 issue, photography by Donna Griffith
2-3. Jose Villa via design*sponge
4. Danijela Prujinic via Kitka
5. Joe Nye Inc.
6. Jennifer Rowsom Photography
7. Sweets in Style
8. Martha Stewart

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