Tuesday, April 20, 2021

How I Bathed my Tablescape in Sunshine: Step-by-Step Instructions & Ideas for a Beautiful Spring Table Setting

 

Putting the Color Yellow in Context

While you can skip down to the step-by-step layering ingredients, I thought you might also enjoy some background about the color yellow, along with an anecdote or two…


Yellow can be a tricky color for some folks. Why is that?  

My husband Bill and I were in a conversation about home decor and design some years back and the woman was intent on describing how much she hates yellow walls.  Ahem… until we reminded her that our kitchen and part of our dining room is yellow. She stared back blinking incredulously. “No,” she claimed, having visited our home many times.  “Yes,” I replied.

Yes, it is. It’s a soft buttery yellow. At the time of our reconstruction, I might've been channeling Julia Child’s acknowledged passion for that ubiquitous, French-inspired ingredient… “Well, that’s a different yellow. A neutral,” she declared with Kissinger-like diplomacy. 


As I said, yellow can be tricky.

While yellow can be referred to as the color of caution and more; I found out that Yellow symbolizes happiness and warmth in almost all cultures. It's the color that grabs users' attention more than any other color. Major companies use yellow in their branding to give off the feeling of friendliness and positivity.

So you see it’s also true that Yellow is the happy color of sunshine; cheerfulness, happiness and full-on Spring! 

I say this because I’d never used yellow color in any of my tablescape designs except for perhaps an accessory or two.  Made sense that change - a harbinger of the season, would also be a change in look for my tablescape aesthetic. 


I was inspired by the hopeful energizing color of yellow and its ability to lend a charming earthiness to the entertaining tableau. 

So I made up my mad mind (madness is another of the dark attributes associated with the color yellow!) 

That happy, hopeful yellow would signal that breath of fresh air that April signals to us ~ (in zone 7 that is.) And, I daresay, in the minds of those in hotter locales.

Here, it’s yellow forsythia - long heralded as the official flower of Brooklyn, New Yorkm because it’s the first (to bloom) and is very strong: characteristics that Brooklyn citizens embrace as emblematic of themselves. 

Yellow daffodils almost seem ubiquitous this time of year: for sale at the bodegas, grocery stores, and sweeping our gardens and roadsides in broad swaths of sunshine.  Bear in mind there are seemingly just as many kinds of daffodils as you see blooming most everywhere. Including hybrids, there are over 13,000 distinct daffodil varieties, according to Gardening Know How. . 

Many are deer resistant too. I use “Cheerfulness” in my garden design clients’ gardens who are prey to these big rats.  


Did you know that daffodils signify “respect” in the language of flowers?

Respect for Mother Nature is my interpretation of this kind of floral rosetta stone

Yellow as homage to Mother Nature, to spring, to change. The daffodils shape even seem to “trumpet” the arrival of spring

 

And this tablescape was created as a kind of salute to Jan Johnsen, my first guest of April for my emerging Ladies Who Lunch Conversations interview platform on Facebook. Her new book, Floratopia has just recently been released. That pop of flower cover art is hard to look away from!  And do look to my next Garden Glamour post ~ we’re going to offer a free Floratopia book to a lucky recipient! 


While I was determined that yellow was the color theme of the new April tablescape, there now was the sticky situation that I didn’t really have any yellow elements to draw from to create this happy look. And I love to repurpose things from art to jewelry to “found” garden items, and employ them in the design.

But this was going to prove a wee bit thorny...


I still employed a layered look. I could use the green glass salad plates and those bright, floral placements I had stowed in the back of the linen closet were in my table-setting inventory, 

 

along with our crystal glasses and the green Spode ones, yet, I needed chargers, some plates! And that “something” that adds whimsy and charm. Especially for a spring tablescape.

On one of my “wellness walks”, I stopped into the local vintage shop and saw a perfectly sized yellow vase. 

A rather swooning, arabesque shape - the two ends dipped like, well, like weeping forsythia branches! 

The next day, I flexed a bit of bartering ~ just to stay in form!. And I walked home with the right-sized yellow, glass vase.


Floral Focus 

One of my favorite garden design clients who prefers her garden style is that of white purity, nevertheless had lots of yellow daffodils in various locations in her garden rooms from a previous owner. I asked if I could use them - a win/win for both of us. She could rid the gardens of yellow color, and I got oodles of happy daffodils to feature as the sunshine element ~ and to show “respect” for Mother Nature and our gardeners and gardens…

I couldn’t resist the gorgeous, diminutive tulips selling at our local gourmet market: Sickles.

And for a touch of whimsy, I added fresh carrots with their green tops on to the tulip vase. 

Can you see the carrots? 

For even more whimsy ~ can’t have too much of this table ingredient that is meant to delight and surprise you, your family, and guests ~ I hallowed out two small cabbages (used the scooped-out cabbage for homemade coleslaw). 

I fit the potted yellow ranunculus inside. Perfect fit and spring pot!


You can also see the forsythia twigs in the small, horizontal glass vases. I placed the two next to the baby terrariums I created from butter dishes, placing some moss and a found twig or two inside.

I kept the green and yellow orchids in their classic, spring green cachepots that I featured in the green, March tablescape. I also retained the oxalis that I used in March, the variety of pots from sparkling green to painted green clay, still work. I especially like the way the oxalis leaves close up at night. And so does Bill and Mother. 

Plant Performance art!


That said, I also like to mix a few faux blooms in for lasting, easy care beauty. Here, these golden charmers grace a purple African Violet. 

To further accessorize, I placed a real but long-gone butterfly we found in our driveway a few years ago. It’s a nice surprise. 

The table runner is a faux grass that I purchased by the yard at a local Joanne’s fabric and craft store. The staff at our store are super nice and helpful. The faux green grass runner is a perfect canvas for the florals and the tablescape’s other elements.  


Layering in the Table Settings

I thought it would be an intriguing and memorable design look to feature yellow cabbage plates to better celebrate the season. 

I soon discovered the yellow ones are more difficult to find than the green cabbage plates; they are Portguese, and now considered Vintage. Which means more money. But my curiosity had kicked in and the hunt was on. I looked in Replacements, Etsy, and eBay, where I eventually purchased the four vintage Secla Portguese yellow ceramic plates. Not only was the look just perfect but cost, and most of all, no pronounced or visible damage . Understandably, some vintage items have cracks or chips… I was very careful, chose wisely, and in the end, was satisfied with my find.

  

Bill was tasked with locating the chargers. I wanted some graphic art look on them, vs. a monochrome color.

He outdid himself! The border is a kind of lattice look that complements the plates and matches the place card name tags!  They are a metal material with a French cabbage design so the theme works even when plating the food. And I’ll use them outside later in the summer when dining outdoors. 

 

You can see the layered plating and charger here, for each place setting. 


I double-dipped with the napkins (smile). I had the vintage green one’s with the loopy bow; layered in the crisp, white linen napkins.

I wanted a more relaxed Napkin “Ring” so I tied a gold-flecked ribbon around the base of the napkin and the bow amplified the napkins’ green one. Kismet.  The gold ribbon is the same as I wrapped around the twinkly light strands and the moss-covered twig I artfully placed on the grass runner, so the shimmery gold is even prettier in the evening. And it follows then, that gold cutlery works with this look. 

 


TableDecor Accessories

Here’s where the fun really gets going! Choose from any kind of tokens, trinkets, jewelry, or souvenirs to add personality and style to make the table design your own special creation.  

I placed two of the wind-up furry chics Mother gifted us one Easter several years ago. So cute! And I adore the fluffy white ducks and mini, bunny cake stands I purchased some years back at Sickles Market. 

I added the colored, blown out egg ornaments that I made for Bill, me, and my Father and Mother. I still place Dad’s at the table as a loving memory of my best guy… I place them in white chick soft egg holders 

The Lladro girl at the table center is also a lovely memory. It was my godmother’s ~ she collected the figurines. When she died, my other aunt who was her caretaker, gifted this garden girl to me. 

So you see how memories, whimsy, color, texture, balance, nature, seasonality, and imagination can transport your dining table into a pretty, romantic, and entertaining delight.


Hope you enjoy the happy, yellow, glowing tablescape. And Happy Earth Day!



I’ll leave you with two videos: showing the tablescape in the day and in the evening so that you can get an idea of how the layered vignette looks styled for every meal, in any light. 








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