2018-12-06 / Around Town

Designer Tips for Holiday Tablescapes

By Lisa Heffernan

This tablescape at The Elms shows how a Christmas ornament can serve as a keepsake place card holder. This tablescape at The Elms shows how a Christmas ornament can serve as a keepsake place card holder. When experiencing this year’s Christmas at the Newport mansions, visitors may be drawn to some of the whimsical tablescapes created by local designers. From the poinsettia and pine cone–laden Marble House dining room table and the Green Animals Topiary and Nutcracker-inspired Elms table setting to the holiday fruits in The Breakers breakfast room, patrons will find lots of ideas to spark their imagination when decorating their own holiday tables.

Erica Trombetti, owner and lead designer at Infinite Events, drew inspiration from the room’s décor in the tablescape she created at Marble House.

“I wanted to pull in some of the blues you see in the paintings as well as the ceiling,” she said. “To do so, we layered with blue-and-white plates, along with a classic blue pattern on the salad and bread-and-butter plates.”

The Breakers Breakfast Room sparks imaginations. The Breakers Breakfast Room sparks imaginations. Aside from adding layers of plates, bowls and texture to the table, Trombetti likes incorporating something traditional, such as a velvet runner or a centerpiece of poinsettias. “Then, to tie your whole holiday look together, add a sprig of pine or a cinnamon stick into the napkin,” she suggests. “It will not only look lovely when your guests sit to eat, but it will smell lovely, too.”

Christmas decorations can be used as place cards or to fill vases for some festive cheer, according to Stephanie Frazier Grimm, founder and creative director of Couture Parties.

“Cloth napkins tied with a velvet ribbon will make a statement on any holiday table,” said Frazier Grimm, who designed the Elms’ dining room tablescape. “I also love to include family pieces in any event design I create. It could be grandma’s china, your great grandparents’ silver, or small picture frames of relatives over the years. Old can be new, and it’s a great conversation piece with your guests.”

Kelli DuBeau, co-owner of Exquisite

Events, likes to embellish with fresh greens for the holidays.

“In this case, I believe less is not more,” said DuBeau, who was involved with The Breakers breakfast room tablescape. “I build it high and lush with fresh greens, and with oversized elements that normally would not be in a tablescape, creating different levels. Then, when we do sit for dinner, certain pieces are removed to bring it down to a non-obstructive height, and it’s transformed into platforms for the platters of food.”

Frazier Grimm reminds aspiring decorators and designers always to be practical.

“Service platters take up a lot of room and it is always so disappointing when you’ve made this gorgeous display and there is no room for the food,” she said. Your guests will enjoy their dinner served among gorgeous decorations, in a candlelit ambience. Stasia Anthony, co-owner of Exquisite Events, says, "We love colored tapered candles with a mix of candlesticks and votives." How festive!

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