12 Tips for Creating a Beautiful Fall Table
Athena Calderone, blogger extraordinaire and author of the new book Cook Beautiful, knows how to set the table right.
Updated Oct 11, 2018 10:22 PM
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So, you’re having a few friends over and you’re serving dinner. (Can we come?!) You should makeAthena Calderone
’s Pan-Roasted Chicken and Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad from her new book Cook Beautiful for a real crowd pleaser.
But don’t skimp on the tablescape decor. Calderone’s got some suggestions for that too. Read below for some pretty brilliant ideas to pull your table together in a flash, from seasonal touches to rustic tie-ins to vintage finds, we’ve got all the fall decor tips you could ever need.
Just in time for the holidays, Calderone has partnered with Chairish, the premier online vintage furniture and décor marketplace, for an exclusive curated collection. The pieces in the sale are a direct reflection of her love of antiques and casual vintage style. Fashion, design, and entertaining enthusiasts alike will have the opportunity to shop pieces exclusively curated by Athena’s discerning eye for style and design.
“I have always been smitten by antique and vintage finds, I use them for any interior I style or design…The things you collect over time, eclectic oddities or trinkets, tell your story. They also come with their own story, history, and personality,” says Calderone.
“Bring the colors of the natural world to your table and create autumnal warmth with sculptural seasonal produce like persimmons, golden beets, and velvety wild mushrooms. Carry golden hues through your glassware and flatware to give the feeling of warmth that we crave in the fall. Check your recycling bin for empty bottles of whiskey, cognac—even kombucha—and peel the labels off with hot water. Sometimes the thriftiest touches can be the most elegant.”
Take Cues from Your Setting
“Be holistic about the choices you make for your event to tie it all together. If the setting is rustic, make your table settings raw and rustic, too. For farm dinners, I love to incorporate autumnal elements like cinnamon sticks, clippings of golden-hued fall flowers or sprigs of wheat tied with twine on rustic linen napkins. Playful and textural touches like hay-bale seating really set the mood.”
She adds, “For a dinner in my townhouse, we were still under construction when the time of the event rolled around. We embraced it and decided to play up the atmosphere by setting the table with canvas drop cloths. They fray beautifully at the edges when torn, bringing texture and sense of the “intentionally un-done” to the decor. You can continue the look by using small strips of the drop cloth to tie together a seasonal bunch of foliage each guests’ plate.”
Forage decor from your own garden: a beautiful turning leaf or minimal branch placed simply on a guest’s plate is impactful and simple.
“Bring fall’s natural beauty indoors by displaying a few leafy branches in a simple vase. Don’t be fooled into believing they need to be blooming—or even bountiful—to make an impact. In this case, less is more! A minimal arrangement of just two or three stems emphasizes their sculptural silhouettes.”
Pretty Little Things
“Let fall’s rustic vibe inform even the tiniest touches on your table. Use simple leather cord or twine to tie your napkins, tucking in a few foraged elements like pinecones and wheat sprigs for texture. And while place cards can often feel fussy, kraft paper brings them down to earth. Use your prettiest script for a bit of juxtaposition.”
“While neutral, handmade ceramics are a year-round staple, they look particularly at home on a fall table. And here’s a little secret: Many ceramics studios offer pottery with teeny, barely noticeable flaws—pieces known as ‘seconds’—for a fraction of full price. I’m all about embracing imperfections, so give your local potter a ring!”
“In fall, there’s almost always a baking sheet of veggies roasting in my oven. Herb-infused olive oil gives them a little extra oomph—and makes a perfect take-home gift for guests. Just add a few sprigs of hearty, full-flavored herbs like rosemary, sage, and thyme to your favorite extra-virgin variety. Clear glass, cork-topped bottles like these are easy to find online.”
“There’s nothing more flattering than candlelight and I’m always looking for unexpected ways to bring that flickering warmth to the table. Here, rather than employing a traditional candle holder, I corralled pillars of varying heights on a copper tray, tucking seasonal herbs among them for color.”
“Fall harvest décor doesn’t have to be a ho-hum mix of oranges and browns. A cluster of white and gray pumpkins running down the center of the table looks chic and sophisticated, especially when softened with a few silvery green leaves. I adore a pale, neutral palette—even for my pumpkins!”
“Spark meaningful conversations—and add a handmade touch—by printing simple brown paper lunch bags with your favorite quotes about gratitude. Expressing thanks puts a beautiful meal with loved ones in perspective. Guests can read the quotes aloud at the table, and then bring the bags home filled with candied nuts or other sweet treats.”
“Pick a hue and carry through! A bunch of disparate tabletop items can feel like a proper collection when united by a single material or tone—in this case, copper. I love the metal’s warmth and variety of patinas, especially when paired with fall’s earthy palette. To start your own collection, peruse Etsy or eBay.”