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What's Up Magazine

Set to Impress

Nov 11, 2013 02:54PM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Carolyn Swift Lasako
Photography by Tony Lewis, Jr.

From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, there’s no shortage of opportunities for dinner parties both large and small. It’s easy to defer to the old standbys—pumpkins and gourds with hints of crisp browns, muted golds, and burnt oranges during November; strands of evergreen, glittery snowflakes, and holiday-hued reds, greens, and silvers during December. But whoever said you had to stick to tradition? This year, we challenge you to tap your inner designer and get creative with your table settings by trying out a new theme—anything from a favored color scheme to a characteristic vibe such as natural or romantic. For inspiration, we’ve asked local designers to set and stage a table according to a theme. The result is a collection of table settings as diverse as they are original that are sure to spark a vision for your upcoming dinner party.


A Return to Elegance
Designed by

PHOTOS taken at the home of Alex and Susan Mandl Antique Sampson Hancock & Sons Dishes AVAILABLE through Jean McHale Design of Easton, or 410-763-8760
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The inspiration for this table-scape actually came to me several years ago when shopping for antiques in England. It was my turn to host a formal Christmas dinner party a few weeks later and when I discovered this beautiful set of dishes, I knew instantly what a wonderful looking table they would inspire.

Created by Sampson Hancock & Sons during the Aesthetic Movement of the Victorian period in England, the large set of dishes truly represents a time when opulent lifestyles and decadence were all the rage.

To enhance the elegance of the dinnerware, large gold glass chargers were placed under the plates. Highly decorative silverware was selected to complement the elegance of the settings. The wonderful pair of antique French vases filled with magnolias and white hydrangeas provide an elevated arrangement that allows guests to easily converse under the foliage. The deer hiding in the reds and greens of the surrounding vines add just one more touch of holiday cheer.

—Jean McHale, owner of Jean McHale Design


Rustic Refinement with a Pop of Color
Designed by

YVES DELORME TABLECLOTH AND NAPKINS $280 (tablecloth), $25 (napkins) AVAILABLE at Yves Delorme, Annapolis, and through Karen Renée Interior Design of Severna Park,, 410-647-0435
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It’s not always easy to blend your existing color scheme into holiday themed décor. Here’s an idea to achieve a relaxed rustic refinement for your holiday dinner table. Start by making selections for the table using mostly neutrals in the linens, candles, flowers, and plates. To achieve the feel of rustic refinement, use a mix of shine with naturals, such as large gold and/or silver holiday ornaments and a shimmering vase for the center of the table.

Then to mix it up, add in naturals of the season, such as large pinecones on the table and moss and small pinecones in the candleholders. To add to the rustic feel, Italian pottery dishes make a beautiful statement, Meanwhile, silver flatware, crystal water and wine glasses, pewter chargers, and white dendrobium orchids add a touch of additional elegance.
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Once the base of neutral with rustic elegance is established, incorporate your “pop of color,” highlighting the two main colors of the room. In this case, it was aqua blue and chartreuse, which we incorporated through table linens, ribbons around the votive candleholders, and pears.

—Karen Osborne, President of Karen Renée Interior Design


Floral Abundance
Designed by

MOSS WALL (can be custom created and installed to fit in anyone’s home), $600-$2,400, depending on the size of the space RECLAIMED WOODEN BOX CENTERPIECE $125 MODERN ASYMMETRICAL URN DESIGN $275 AVAILABLE through Intrigue Design & Décor of Annapolis,, 410-571-3069
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I really wanted to create a table that fostered a feeling of togetherness surrounded by an abundant array of floral. The moss wall and trees are the staple pieces for this setting, with everything else created around them.

The natural, green shade was used as the base color, with neutral cream-and-white floral designs complementing the green linens and accent pillows. The thing I love most about this setting is the wide variety of floral. The reclaimed wooden box centerpiece features everything from English garden roses to astilbe and ranunculus, while the hanging display highlights orchids, which not only blossom in the centerpiece, but in the center of each place setting, as well. It’s important to make each place setting stand out and that is exactly what the individual orchids do.
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The most important thing to keep in mind when creating your own holiday table—which is what remained in the back of my mind as I created this one— is remembering to just have fun. Enjoy the design process and those around the table!

—Sarah Campbell, Owner of Intrigue Design & Décor

Set to Impress: Part II