Summer may bring to mind barbecues and pool parties, but why sacrifice style for a warm weather fête when all it takes is a few details to lighten up any look? Here, some experts show us how we can bring summer to two very different décor styles.
ISSUE: Summer 2012
DEPT: Audrey Living
PHOTO: Callaway Gable
STYLISTS: Carpe Diem Special Events and Designs; Rrivre Works, Inc.
FLOWERS: Mille Flori Floral Design
VENUE: Rrivre Works, Inc.
“When you’re thinking of a summer dinner with friends, it is always nice to give your guests the unexpected,” says Slomique Hawrylo, who runs Carpe Diem, an event planning company, with partner Alice Chung. Always consider your surroundings when planning your tablescape, says Hawrylo. If you’ve got access to a great outdoor setting with a breathtaking view, you’re practically done. But if you’re working with an indoor venue, Hawrylo suggests an eye-catching print accenting the wall behind your table setting, like a bold damask design. Setting up a striking backdrop is easy to achieve, she adds. “Just purchase a large amount of fabric from your local fabric store and hang it flush to the wall accenting your tablescape.”
Against a sophisticated black and white backdrop, Hawrylo finds it important to make sure accent pieces are “wow pieces.” She suggests “sprinkling in a little summer brightness with a crisp apple green,” like vintage-inspired stemware and napkins. Don’t be afraid to mix and match modern and vintage styles of stemware in varying shades of your accent color. “Your guests will be impressed by the wonderful play on colors,” she says.
Florist Gina Kim-Park of Mille Fiori Floral Design continued the apple green theme by accenting each table setting with green cymbidium orchid blooms. She also used “modern baroque-style” mirrored trays for the charger. “You can purchase any cool picture frame to use as chargers for any dinner setting,” she adds.
To play off the bold damask backdrop, Kim-Park created an oversized garland with white and black paper flowers. She created one centerpiece with a white paper flower bloom accented with green moss balls, and another utilizing white akito roses meandering down a tall ceramic vase. As for setting up the layout of your dinner party, never feel that you are confined to the conventional table, says Hawrylo. “If you have a unique bar at your home, and you want your guests to experience a modern way of having a dinner party, have the entire evening themed around the bar. Your place settings, conversation and, of course, drinks will all take place at this unconventional table.”
If you’re working with a more traditional dining setting, bring summer inside — in an enchanted-forest- midsummer-night’s-dream type of way. This dreamy tablescape was created around the Montage Table, which features a magnolia tree at the center, by Rrivre Works, an event design and rental company. “Bring the outdoors in with living foliage, and accent with florals in the colors of the season,” says Rrivre Davies, owner of Rrivre Works. If your dinner is outdoors, he suggests building a table around your favorite tree.
If you don’t happen to have a tree in your dining room, “consider a potted tree for your next centerpiece,” says Hawrylo. “Big or small, it can provide an unexpected wow factor.” Kim-Park used oversized glass balls with candles for a whimsical yet modern touch — a crystal garland would work just as well against the hand-distressed texture of the table. She added large succulents with accents of fern greenery “for a more organic feel.”
“We like to take our themes to the max,” says Davies. “Sweet bird dishware and natural linen napkins take the stuffiness out of a formal event without compromising elegance. Layering multiple textures gives the setting a unique, eclectic look.” Pair vintage-inspired “found” dishware from flea markets and estate sales with your existing china to add personality to your table. And never underestimate the power of a napkin, says Hawrylo. “The right color or detail on a napkin can make a table pop. An easy way to add a little flavor to your napkin is by taking two napkins with two different colors and folding it to accomplish a two-tone napkin. This adds character and a little charm.”
Finish off the tablescape with fresh seasonal blooms. For this particular look, Kim-Park used ranunculus, peonies, tulips, fruitilaria and green viburnum in a gold alabaster glass urn, but she says natural florals in miniature vases spread throughout the table work, too.