With Thanksgiving just two weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about the final details and finishing touches for the big day. That includes the Thanksgiving tablescape. For inspiration, we turned to Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors in Atlanta. Here, she shares some of her expert advice for creating the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape and sideboard vignette, including where to save and splurge, transitioning from Thanksgiving to the holiday season, and where to find everything you’ll need. Welcome, Lauren!
How far in advance of Thanksgiving should we begin planning the Thanksgiving tablescape?
I start thinking about my Thanksgiving table at the beginning of October. This way I can be on the lookout for special finds and also have plenty of time to order any custom linens. It is meant to be something fun, so if you simply end up the week before without a plan, improvise and make the best of it.
When it’s time to start planning, where does one start?
Start by identifying an element you know you want to use and build from there. Maybe it’s a particular tablecloth or a china pattern. I always think through how I can use what I already have (table linens and vintage china are guilty pleasures of mine), and then start filling in the blanks.
Fill in the blank: The most important components of a Thanksgiving (or any) tablescape are _____________.
Layers of color/pattern/texture, florals, plant life (or even just feathers!) to bring life to the table, and accent lighting — candlelight adds that layer of intimacy for conversation and special memories.
Where can we save, and where should we splurge?
Truthfully, you can be thrifty about all of the elements and still put together a beautiful setting. I’ve found that nice monogrammed napkins and really pretty china can elevate the rest of the table, but you don’t have to spend an arm and a leg on those elements either. Also, don’t be afraid to ask to borrow items from friends (or even your parents or grandparents!). I knew I wanted a taxidermy pheasant for my Thanksgiving table, and I noticed one sitting in the study of a friend’s house. She was happy to let me borrow him. (We named him Frank!)
What’s the most important insider tip you can share?
The three E’s: Etsy, eBay, and Estate Sales. I’ve found quality napkins on Etsy and had someone local monogram them, and I’ve also found great china on eBay and at estate sales. Don’t have your grandmother’s set of silver? Scour these three sources to start collecting!
What sort of simple swaps can be made to take a Thanksgiving tablescape into the holiday season?
Swap your fall centerpiece for new centerpieces made with evergreen branches, fir branches and red berries. Swap napkins for a rich green or red patterned napkin.
Are there any no-no’s or cardinal rules that should never be broken when it comes to table setting/design?
In general, I try to not have my centerpieces so tall that you cannot easily converse with the person across the table. Otherwise, I say experiment and have fun with it.
What is the single most important accent that should never be overlooked on a tablescape?
“Lively” centerpieces. This can be cut flowers, potted ferns, or even bowls filled with artichokes. Just as in any interior setting, plant life and vegetation add that finishing layer to a space. They make any tablescape more special and are also opportunities to experiment and be festive.
Thank you, Lauren. And thank you to Mary Catherine Brownfield for the beautiful photography.
Find more interior design inspiration, check out our “Homes” section.