I’ve been to fancy parties and a black-tie soiree or two over the years. But it’s fair to say that I’ve seen more pretty lunch and dinner tables since late April than in my entire life up to then.
On April 26, the Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS hosted its Designing by Design event at the Gallery in the Power & Light District. I attended the afternoon preview, which had no shortage of tablescape ideas.
Highlights included Katy Sullivan Designs’ (picture 1) lovely turquoise glassware and cake stands holding pink and orange iced doughnuts, colorful but mismatched patterned napkins, five pink floral arrangements and a centerpiece of several cylindrical vases holding taper candles. Three words came to mind when I saw it: “socialite garden party.”
“I tried to come up with a more day-event concept, perhaps a shower or bridesmaid luncheon,” Sullivan said. She did admit, however, that the doughnuts were largely a result of being 12 weeks pregnant and craving sweets.
Kitty Sondern Snyder (cover) grouped several wine bottles together on a charger in the center of her table and put flowers and greenery in each. The result was a fantastic, large, colorful flower bomb. The key is to use a lot of flowers and place the taller ones toward the middle.
Lynn McIntosh, owner of Kansas City Chiropractic, and her staff designed a festive Italian table by grouping containers of olive oil, jars of pasta and flowers in San Marzano tomato cans around a giant vase of lemons, all atop a red checkered tablecloth. McIntosh said she was inspired by a recent visit to L’Originale Alfredo Ristorante in Rome.
Elizabeth Ezra, of Alan Karlin Design, (picture 2) proved that even the most mundane items can be fun, interesting and perhaps pretty when used in bunches. Her table was inspired by DIFFA’s focus on “educate” and included cylindrical glass vases filled with unsharpened yellow pencils, Pink Pearl erasers and chalk sticks. They were complemented by cobalt blue goblets and every teacher’s favorite fruit — green apples — at each place setting.
I wouldn’t use school items on my own table, but it did get me thinking about other interesting vase fillers such as feathers, wine corks, wheat stalks, twigs or fruit or both, painted or au natural; ribbon, layers of beans, grains and rice, an assortment of nuts in their shells or tree leaves. The list could go on and on.
Amy Thurston set herself up for a challenge by partnering with Ranch Market Ace Hardware and using products from the store. Her table wasn’t the most elegant, but it was certainly the most clever, with copper tubing wrapped around a glass centerpiece that sat on perforated sheet metal. Toilet float balls, spray-painted bronze, served as place-card holders.
On May 8, the Greater Kansas City alumnae chapter of Delta Gamma hosted its annual Tables That Bloom luncheon at Indian Hills Country Club in Mission Hills, a benefit for several nonprofit groups serving the blind and visually impaired.
I was seated at a table designed by the Posh Party/Brenda Aylward Designs & Interior (picture 3). It was outfitted in a Parisian doll theme and was the most dramatic and colorful of the 23 tables at the event.
A nearby table, decorated by Todd Miller, owner of Charlecote, and the other Crestwood Shops, (picture 4) featured a simple yet stunning idea for a centerpiece: a tall antique basin stand from about 1780 holding a pot dripping with spicota and geraniums. It was surrounded by candles and artificial paper whites tucked inside napkin-lined goblets. This could easily be replicated with a wire plant stand on any dining table, allowing for high drama yet an unobstructed view.
The events have inspired me to start scattering small plants or floral arrangements on the table in a set of vintage coffee cups; to look for large, pretty pieces of fabric to serve as tablecloths or napkins; and to combine fresh fruit (lemons, especially) with greenery. It was nice to be reminded of how special a beautifully set table can make guests feel.