While most fundraisers, especially in the Hamptons are beautifully designed, it’s rare to have an event as full of design inspiration as the Holiday House Hamptons Coming Together Tabletop Event, which took place on July 20, 2022 at Topping Rose House in Bridgehampton.
The event featured sixteen designers and their tablescapes including ABC Carpet & Home, Abundant Habitat, Amal Kapen Interiors, Ashley Stark Home, Elsa Soyars Interiors, Evan Mason Designs, Hidden Gem NY, Kathy Kuo Home, Katie White Interiors, Sage & Madison, Sarah Lederman Interiors, Sea Green Designs, The Lewis Design Group, The Rinfret Group, Unlimited Earth Care by Frederico Azevedo and Weston Table. Every tablescape was chic and an incredible expression of each designer’s unique vision. But most importantly, this event, which was founded by Iris Danker, benefited the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF).
Several of the designers from the event shared the inspiration behind their designs with me as well as some of their best tips for anyone who wants to create a beautiful tablescape at their own event.
But perhaps Andrea Stark, who designed the tablescape for Ashley Stark Home says it best. “The inspiration was breast cancer, the memory of those that we’ve lost, the hope for those who are going through it and for the future— cure and treatments. So we no longer have to do [these events].”
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Weston Table had one of the most visionary and certainly most New England-inspired tables at the event. “Rather than relying on bouquets of summer flowers for color and texture, we surprise our guests with different sizes of William Yeoward Crystal glass bowls filled with water and live bright blue swimming betta fish. These low-profile elements allow for unobstructed views around the table,” says Dianne O’Connor, Founder and CEO of Weston Table.
“Our beach tablescape captures the rustic elegance of dining al fresco and lingering seaside when the sun sets and it is still warm enough to dig bare feet in the sand. Something unexpected on the table creates conversation. Candlelight reflecting off faces makes everyone glow, and our setting features modern glass oil lamps of different heights that stay lit even with the summer breeze. At the end of the night, we hope our gathering leaves everyone with a sense of calm and beauty reflective of the seaside splendor.”
O’Connor also believes it’s best to opt for understated looks. Less is always more. “Set the table, step back, and then see if there is something that can be removed that might be too noisy. Similarly to how you dress and accessorize, understated elegance is timeless. It is this classic sensibility I strive for every time I set a table.”
These understated but creative aesthetics also don’t need to be expensive. It’s easy to use items already on hand. “For example, we use rope as napkin rings to mimic rigging on a sailboat, small seashells as salt cellars, and linen beach towels as tablecloths for our beach-themed dinner parties,” she says.
ABC Carpet & Home
With bright purple carpet underfoot, the ABC Carpet & Home tablescape stood out with a mix of both causal and formal elements. Suki LaBarre, Vice President, Merchandising and e-commerce of ABC Carpet & Home tells me “Our tablescape is inspired by the vibrant hues and whimsical illustrations of summer. It’s a celebratory assortment of some of our new arrivals, like Ginori 1735, paired with staples from our favorite collections and designers, such as Astier de Villatte, and our very own abcDNA assortment. The eclectic mix of new and vintage-inspired tableware and linens, along with mirrored accents, garnishes, and bold color palettes create a dreamlike nostalgia with a classic charm.”
LaBarre tells me mixing and matching is the key to creating a similar look. “Whether that’s with mismatching (but coordinating) colors, incorporating both vintage and contemporary pieces, or working with different pieces to play with visual texture and dimension…”
Then elevate the tablescape through the addition of fun elements. “Add unique or whimsical touches, like mirrored accents or natural elements like farm vegetables, fresh flowers, and garnishes. We also always recommend anchoring your space with a unique rug, so you can ground the tablescape and tie the table setting together for a memorable, striking table ambiance.”
Kathy Kuo Home
Famed designer Kathy Kuo started her coastal Hamptons-style tablescape by selecting the core furniture pieces. “We wanted to pick something light and natural that would also serve as a classic background to the tablescape,” says Kuo. “The Oly armchair has been a favorite piece to use in design projects since it brings a simple but elegant feel to any room. Accompanied by the whitewashed pine wood dining table— both pieces worked beautifully together.”
Then she chose the dinnerware and floral arrangements simultaneously. “For the dinnerware, we used a combination of light neutral tones with pewter and gold accents that would exude grace, strength and humility— a few of the many qualities a strong woman possesses,” she says.
Kuo believes the secret sauce to a good tablescape is layering. “Combining different heights, textures and colors help to create a bespoke and thoughtful design while adding interest at a first glance. It’s also important to establish a color scheme from the start. The rule of thumb is there should be at most three different colors and textures, but of course, there are always exceptions.”
A tablescape can also be built around a centerpiece. “May it be a beautiful floral arrangement, stunning ginger jars, or a statement bowl… Setting it up in a way that makes a lasting impression on your guests is important and can often create a topic of conversation. You can also add personal touches to each setting whether it be a handwritten place card or small souvenir,” she says.
Amal Kapen Interiors
As a designer who caters to the grandmillennial crowd, Amal Kapen of Amal Kapen Interiors tells me she always looks to the past for inspiration and then puts a youthful twist on it. “The classic old school print from Cowtan and Tout served as the jumping-off point [for the tablescape]. It spoke to me with its infusion of colors lavender, blue, green, and brown as well as the large-scale print. I’m obsessed with lavender these days and the large-scale vine made me think of the climbing clematis centerpiece! The vintage 1960s grotto chairs are from my store and the plates were a mix of antique Calyxware and vintage Melox lotus plates.”
Kapen believes mixing it up is essential for a chic tablescape “Your China does not need to match and you don’t need a whole new set of dishes. Consider buying a colorful patterned set of dessert or salad plates that coordinate with the china you already own to make a statement.”
For some extra elegance, she likes using tablecloths and placemats together. “Placemats are great with tablecloths as they add an extra layer of protection in the case of messy entrees (or guests) and they add additional interest to the table.”
Then skip the paper napkins and use linen or cloth napkins as a final touch. “[They] can be plain, patterned or even monogrammed,” explains the designer.
Katie White Interiors
Katie White of Katie White Interiors designed one of the only round tablescapes at the event. It had a timeless yet contemporary look. “The vision was inspired by the outdoors. I am drawn to organic, soft, rounded shapes and neutral colors that reflect the natural world around us. I wanted to create a mood that felt organic [and simple]. The limited color palette of whites, greens, and neutrals was selected to fit this theme,” says White.
“For the dishware, I loved the perfectly imperfect natural curves of the plates and mango wood chargers by BeHome. Most of the florals and accessories were from my own home.”
Keeping with the theme of bringing the outdoors inside, Dedon provided the table, chairs, lanterns, and rug, which are all designed for the outdoors. “The entire setting could be used in a dining room or a backyard,” she says.
White tells me that creating a beautiful tablescape starts with a mood and a theme. “The shapes, colors, and materials of everything you use should echo this theme and need to work with the decorations throughout the rest of the space. Layer in a mix of elements in various heights to give your table dimension. Use what’s around you. Take a stroll outside and bring a pair of shears. Whatever you find will reflect the season and location.”