My mom and I LOVE discussing design vs. real life. One of our more recent conversations included the frustration of finding a dining room tablescape that leaves room for the food. We eat family style every day and that doesn’t change for the holidays. While more people fill our table, the closeness of family style dining remains. We love being together. My home isn’t exactly conducive to a big buffet, either. Neither is my mother’s. By necessity, as much as our preference, family style dining is a must.
But we had a problem. All the tablescape inspiration we found on Pinterest incorporated these huge centerpieces that left no room for the food. Now, I don’t know about your home, but food is VERY important in mine. We love to eat and Thanksgiving is no different. If my dad doesn’t make a triple batch of potatoes, there is likely to be a brawl. There are some beautiful table settings out there, but we struggled to find something that would work for our family.
The Tablescape Inspiration
When my mother first enlisted my help in designing her tablescape, I fought with my inner designer. I wanted to create something beautiful but the idea of taking up real estate on the table haunted me. I immediately consulted my favorite social media network, Pinterest. Usually, Pinterest offers me plenty of inspiration. This time, Pinterest bombarded me with tablescapes that barely left room for the flatware…
I loved the use of natural greens in this tablescape, but the eternal question, “Where would I put the turkey?” stumped me. The pumpkins and candles really make the tablescape pop. Alas, there is barely room for the salt & pepper shakers. I moved on in my search.
Again, I found a beautiful tablescape with pumpkins (I’m mildly obsessed). But again, there was no room left for the food. I knew this wouldn’t work for our Family Style Thanksgiving. I spent HOURS searching, but kept coming up with tablescapes where the decor took over. I thought to myself, why can’t we have both? Why can’t we have a beautiful tablescape with greenery, candles, pine cones, and whatever else we wanted, but still leave room for my mom’s sage pesto turkey?
Inventing My Own Tablescape
Giving up was not an option, so even though hours of browsing Pinterest only produced frustration, I powered through. I took notes on all the things I liked about the different things that inspired me in my research. Knowing I would have to figure out something on my own actually set me free. Okay, that may be going a little far. But, I started to write down the needs of our family table:
- room for food (priority #1!)
- being able to see and talk to each other across the table
- incorporating the navy of my sister’s china
- adding sage greens for my mother
I then started brainstorming materials that would lay flat, so even if they took up room in the middle of the table, we would be able to lay things on top of them. Immediately, I went to the greenery. My mom has a ton of herbs on her deck and in her garden. I knew she’d be using a lot of those herbs in the dinner, so it seemed like a good place to start. They would lie flat, so if we would be able to lay serving dishes over them if we started running out of room.
Mom dug out everything she had in the color palette we were going for: navy, creamy white, sage green, and natural browns and tans. We went to her local Joann’s and got some more supplies to fill the holes we thought we had. We had way too much to work with, as you can see:
I’m pretty sure we ended up using about 10-15% of what we got out and bought. Trust me, if you’re crazy enough to do what we did, keep the receipts. You’ll end up bringing stuff back to the store. 😉
We landed on a combination of eucalyptus leaves, sage, rosemary, and wheat. We added depth with different candles and holders. Pro Tip: Set the table BEFORE you start working on your tablescape. That way, you don’t have to redo a bunch of work because your place settings don’t fit.
Since the china we were using had navy and silver in it, we didn’t want to add too many different colors. We decided to stick with blues and greens for the pop of color.
Layering A Tablescape
Layering starts from the bottom. We decided to use a tablecloth in my mother’s favorite shade of green for the base and layer a short, cream runner on top. This runner ended up being almost like a boundary line. As long as we didn’t go outside it, there would be plenty of room for the dishes and food.
Once you have chosen your base layer, set your table. Trust me, this will save you a lot of headaches in the end. When your table is all set, the fun part is on! We started with the candles, as that would be the heart of our “centerpiece.” I think we tried about 6 different arrangements before finding one we liked. At first, they were too spread out, so we wouldn’t have enough room for the turkey. I don’t know how it is in your house, but my mom’s turkey is the star of our family’s Thanksgiving. There needs to be room for it on the table.
Once the basics are down, it’s time to let your creativity take over. Place and weave things in. Take them out. Tweak it until you’re happy. But, if you’re like me — give yourself a time limit. I tend to over-edit or over-style unless I’m working under some kind of pressure.
In the end, both of us were ecstatic with the results! Look at our BEAUTIFUL thanksgiving tablescape. We added some pinecones for added texture. We even tried out some of the dishes my mom knew she would use on Thanksgiving. Tell me what you think of our tablescape in the comments below. 🙂
What we love about this tablescape is that it takes the way we live into account while still incorporating the accents and decor we love. I hope I speak for both myself and my family when I say that this really married beauty and function for our Thanksgiving dinner.
I hope you’ve enjoyed sharing our tablescape and that you’ve walked away with something that may help you with your own. Please let me know what you thought and any questions you may have in the comments below.
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I had a blast creating this table with my mom and I hope you have a blast creating your own!
As always —
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