Tablescaping Tips with Megan Auerbach
Updated: Feb 12, 2019
DANKE: Building a tablescape… where do you start?
MEGAN AUERBACH: I usually get inspired by something. It’s never the same thing. Maybe I’ll see something on Pinterest or at Home Goods, or in a nice designer store and buy a new piece and get really excited about it, and then I'll plan my table around that piece. For example, I recently got these Mario Luca Giusti beautiful fluted bowls in this black lacquer. I just took that and I planned my whole tablescape around the black lacquer and brought in a lot of blacks, metallic and a cool napkin. And that’s how I always have my tables look different, because my inspiration is always coming from somewhere else.
Do you have any tablescaping rules?
Personally, I like to have the standard flatware setting. I feel like there are no rules with the napkin. You can really play around with napkins – you can put it under the silverware, under the plate, in a cool knot. There are lots of ways to have fun with the napkins. No rules with them.
Flatware, depending on the situation. Like if it’s Shabbat meal, I think flatware should be more formal. But if it’s a funkier-type table, like a kids party, you could definitely play around with it a bit more.
Are there any extra details you like adding to a table?
I really like a cool accent plate. I also like some sort of fun piece that pops, whether it’s a cool vase with something very decorative or a really fun glass… I have these gorgeous wine glasses that I love using on just a basic table because the detail of the glass just stands out and I don’t want to overpower it with anything else.
What’s the craziest thing you’ve ever put on a table?
The craziest thing I ever put on a table was a tennis racquet. I did this awesome dinner party – it happened to be for my father-in-law’s 60th birthday. And when I was speaking to my MIL getting ideas, I wanted to make the table really masculine and about him, but also keep it formal and really nice . So his two favourite things are wine and tennis. And I said, you know what? Let’s put a tennis racquet into the arrangement. And we added succulents to it and then I stuck with that tennis ball green and pulled that element out in other ways. I used green in all the flowers, no other colour. And I also added in a green grape to accent the idea of wine and focus on that tennis green colour. That was a really, really fun tablescape.
What does every tablescape need?
I think a tablescape always needs nice glassware. I think beverages and wines and other specialty drinks really make a table exciting and fun, and can turn a dinner party into a real party, where people really start enjoying themselves. I always say that when clearing a table, do not remove people’s glasses! I want people to sit at the table, continue to enjoy, even when things are cleaned up and the food is gone, the glass should always stay. It encourages people to stay longer, not to feel like they’re being rushed out. I think that’s really important.
What is your tablescape no-no?
Honestly, I feel like there are no rules. There really isn’t anything you can’t do. That’s what’s so fun, and why I enjoy creating tables and creating a look and just really enjoying it. I love Busy in Brooklyn, I follow her. And I read her cookbook cover to cover. I really learned a lot from her. She said when you’re planning your menu you should think about the colours that will be on the plates and stick with a colour scheme. So I’ve started doing that with the food that I'm serving, then I bring it in to the table and my décor as well. For example, this winter I'm doing a lot of purples, a lot of deep greens. So kale, craisins, walnuts, toasted almonds, mixed greens with those really pretty purples. I also think about what colour the soup is going to be. Like a bright orange soup pairs beautifully with a lot of purple on the table. So I really don’t think you can do anything wrong, but the best thing is to not take it too seriously and have fun with it.
What’s your favourite colour scheme?
Well, for winter right now, I’m loving purples, blacks and metallic. They’re so beautiful and can really fit in with any sort of décor.
What is your favourite season or holiday?
I happen to love this time of year. Fall into winter, I think is just so naturally… family. It’s cold out, everyone wants to be home. Food is heartier; flowers are much deeper and darker. I just think winter fall is so fun and there’s so much to do within those seasons. It really lasts right into March. I don’t start lightening up my colours until April, May.
Which three words describe your perfect tablescape?
Fun. Balance. Good wine.
You don’t want to overpower with a lot of different patterns and colours. It’s really important to stick with your fun piece and then balance it, so nothing’s too overpowered.
Whether it’s a Pellegrino or a fruit-infused water, just something pretty to bring to your table, I think a beverage is really, really important. It encourages people to stay and linger and really enjoy themselves.
Place cards – yes or no?
Totally depends on the occasion. Obviously on a Shabbat table I really don’t think it’s necessary. For a Pesach seder, I absolutely think its necessary. Things that are a little bit more planned out, or for a special occasion, place cards are a really nice touch, but I think it can be overkill also. You have to be careful when you use it.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
I love Pinterest. If I find a piece that’s exciting to me, lets say its black and gold, ill type black and gold into Pinterest, or black and gold tablescaping inspiration, black and gold design. And then I just run with it. I think that’s what makes my tables so unique and what makes people come to me for inspiration. There are also some really great bloggers that I follow. @fashionablehostess is probably one of my favourites. I just like her carefree energy. It’s so obvious she has fun with everything she does and I think that’s what’s most important.
What tabletop trends do you see coming up?
Disposable has been a huge trend. Not that it’s going away, but I think maybe it’s getting a little overdone. I personally would rather invest in one nice piece for my table. I find that the pieces that I invest in, I really, really love. Those pieces are timeless and I can use them over and over again.
Trends.. corals and pinks are coming up for spring and summer. I happen to love coral. It pairs so nicely with citrus tones – mandarins, lemons, limes – and it's really fresh for summer. I haven’t even started thinking about it because I'm so focused on what I’m doing now in the winter.
What is your top tip for the tablescaping beginner?
Do not take it so seriously. Don't be scared to put something there in case it doesn’t look good, or in case people will say "Ugh, what was she thinking?" If you are confident in what you put on your table, people will love it. I have these crazy skull accent plates – I LOVE using them! Obviously, they need to be for appropriate company, but I’ve had people come to my house for a meal and I'll plate the salad on these plates, so that once they’ve finished eating there’s just a skull and it's such a cool, fun accent. I’ve had people say to me, "That’s so crazy! I'd never have had the guts to do that. What if somebody thinks it's weird?" And I’m like, "I don’t really care if you think it's weird. This is my house, I love it, I want you to enjoy and embrace my home and this is what I like."
Experimenting is what will make someone stand out and go to the next level. When they say, “You know what? I like these plates and I’m just going to put them on my table. If someone doesn’t like them, they don’t like them.” That’s what makes tables exciting. You can do whatever you want and the next day do something completely different. It’s not like painting a room where you’re really married to the colour. With a table, there are so many options. You could change it up so much – that’s what’s so exciting!
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