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!

Lauren Lowe of Lauren Elaine Interiors

Lauren Lowe of Atlanta’s Lauren Elaine Interiors shares her expert tips and insider secrets for creating the perfect Thanksgiving tablescape.

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.

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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.

Thanksgiving tablescape pointers

Lively centerpieces, such as a bowl of fresh artichokes, are a key component of any seasonal vignette. Ginger jar and footed bowl by Masons Mandalay Chartreuse purchased on eBay; Silver julep cups, $79.95 for a set of six, from Ross-Simons; Feather vase displays, prices vary, from Boxwoods Gardens & Gifts.

Thanksgiving tablescape design

Layers of color (those mandarin oranges!) and texture, as well as plant life, bring this tablescape to life. And don’t overlook the impact of candlelight for setting the scene.

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!

Living room details for Thanksgiving gathering

Every component works so beautifully together!

Thanksgiving tablescape

This overhead shot of Lauren’s table shows the array of design elements and the harmonious way in which they, together, create a breathtaking display. The tablecloth is custom-made from Jasper by Michael S. Smith fabric through Ainsworth-Noah.

Scalloped linen placemats and monogrammed Sferra linen napkins

Scalloped linen placemats and monogrammed Sferra linen napkins, purchased previously from Gramercy Home; Vintage etched wine glasses, $67.95 for a set of four, from Williams Sonoma; water goblets in eggplant, $65 for a set of four, from Oka; china by Masons Mandalay Chartreuse purchased on eBay.

Thanksgiving tablescape

“Frank” is ready to celebrate Thanksgiving!

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.

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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.

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