Fall Table Design
In corroboration with Jill Lang from Argyle Cottage
As the sweaty, sticky days of summer start to wind down, there is a subtle shift in the air– a breath of promise so subtle that you almost miss it, unless you know where to look. The trees have a restless effervescence to them– as if they too feel the change, down to the deepest darkness of their roots. The evenings become chilly and clear, with a million stars winking in a black velvet sky. The leaves trade in their balmy green sundresses for sweeping evening gowns of burnished gold and gleaming scarlet. September is a beautiful month– with glorious, blue-sky days and blazing fall colors and sunsets.
I recently teamed up with Jill Lang from Argyle Cottage to bring you a fun fall table design tutorial. If you find yourself longing to be outside to soak up these gloriously golden autumn days, then I think a fall feast might be just what the doctor ordered. What are we waiting for? Let’s do this!
Jill and I used to be neighbors of the “down the street” variety, and we would often write each other in the evening to say “Hey I’m trying a new recipe– want to meet on the sidewalk and taste it?” We would each walk out of our houses, meet halfway, and try each others’ recipes. It was fun to have a “foodie” neighbor so close by. Luckily, our new house is close enough to the old house that Jill and I can still meet up, and so we decided to team up this week to bring you a fun, beautiful autumn table design that you can make yourself for the next fall get together, without breaking the budget. So Jill? Thank you for helping to make this beautiful table a reality with your styling, and to everyone else, I hope you love what we created and that you can make a beautiful and memorable table for your next dinner party!
First of all, don’t overdo the colors. Stick with a few main colors and try to keep everything in the same family, so you don’t have to pass out free sunglasses to your guests. 😉 One of the most economical and attractive elements to add to a fall table is a container of miniature pumpkins or Indian corn. Jill had this beautiful antique soup tureen, but any sort of bowl or cake stand would work. You can grab a bag of mini pumpkins for $2-$3 at the store, and they pack both color and a big design wallop. You can also fill your design decor with apples or even acorns or colored leaves, if you live somewhere with access to oak trees. You don’t have to spend a lot of money, but I think these little cuties are worth spending a few bucks just for the color and fall vibes that they give off.
Jill told me while we were decorating that “a fancy table doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You can incorporate a few beautiful touches from nature, and you have elegance on a budget.” I couldn’t agree more. We used some acorns, boxwood branches, colored leaves, and cinnamon sticks to set the mood. Of course, we didn’t grow the cinnamon. It’s a pity, but it’s life. 😉 If anyone has any money seeds I could plant, I think I’d like to start a $100 bill plantation. 😉
Another way to get design punch on a budget is to keep your eyes open at flea markets and yard sales. Jill purchased this beautiful antique tureen at a yard sale, and the lace table runner belonged to her grandmother. Lace pieces (like doilies) really sharpen a dark tabletop, because the design has a chance to pop.
Many times I find cool vintage serving pieces, dishware, and silverware for just a few dollars at flea markets. If I see a piece that speaks to me, even if it’s not in a complete set, I usually get it. You can spend a dollar or two and then have a neat piece that you can use to decorate for years to come. Don’t get too bent out of shape if all your plates or silverware don’t match perfectly, either. The eclectic vintage feel somehow brings it all together.
These plates were ones I found at a yard sale (antique Liberty Blue china), and all of the silverware is also reclaimed vintage, mismatched silverware. Jill inherited these beautiful serving goblets from her grandmother, and the crisp white napkins are tied with rustic twine to bring everything together in a beautiful, shabby chic feel.
Jill tucked pretty fall leaves into the napkins to add a statement of color. All in all, we spent very little for this setup, yet I think it looked like something out of a magazine. Jill and I always joke that we have “Versailles taste on a townhouse budget.” But looking at this table, no one would ever know that our budget is small. It doesn’t take spending a fortune to make a decorating statement, which is fortunate for those of us whose money all goes to diapers and Matchbox cars. 😉
Another fun, easy, and economical way to add color to your table is with flowers. This antique blue Ball jar (you guessed it– also found while thrifting!) is the perfect shabby chic vehicle for this bouquet of flowers that I picked from my garden. All summer long I grow a variety of flowers, greenery, and fresh herbs to use as table decor. Keep in mind that evergreen type branches (such as pine or the boxwood branches we used) can sit on the table without water, while flowers such as these yellow wildflowers will need to be kept in water to keep them looking their best. Fresh herbs (except for sturdy ones like rosemary) will also need to be kept in water to preserve their freshness. I think that’s my problem (*scrutinizes self in mirror). I need water to preserve my freshness. 😉 haha.
Simple cake stands add height and elegance to your food offerings. Everyone should have at least one cake stand. Even if you don’t make cake very often, these beautiful pieces are an economical way to elevate your flowers, centerpiece, or food so that your table looks more elegant and organized. It also provides a way for dishes to avoid crowding on the tabletop, itself. This translates to . . . mo’ food fo’ you. 😉 I like the way you think. 😉
What kind of food should I put on that cake stand? *confused face. Well, you can use anything you want, really. Jill and I took a few colors as our theme (green, blue, yellow, orange), and basically tried to fit most of the things on our table into this color aesthetic. We used mini bundt pans to make these adorable little pumpkin cakes, and then I also made pumpkin muffins with cinnamon streusel topping, which I will try to post a recipe for soon. The pumpkin treats were absolutely divine, and I think you couldn’t find a more elegant, delicious, or easy way to commemorate your next fall picnic! 🙂
Start with your basic color or design idea, and build from it. Get a table runner or cloth, and place your sprigs of greenery and natural elements/herbs evenly across the empty spaces. You don’t want the table to look crowded– just bountiful and inviting.
Set your place settings with simple, but beautiful touches– like a little twist of twine or a fall leaf at each plate. Don’t worry if the silverware or plates don’t exactly match– vintage pieces are aged and comfy in their own skin. 😉
So set yourself a beautiful table. Use what you have, and grab a few flowers or leaves from your garden to accent. Turn plain white napkins into statement pieces with twine or colored leaves. Some sprigs of greenery from your bushes will keep things fresh without needing a vase. Flowers from the garden add a lovely pop of color without breaking the bank.
But of course, the winning element to any get together is the people you share it with. So gather your closest friends and family, set a beautiful table, and enjoy your time together. Maybe light some candles or hang some twinkle lights and talk and laugh late into the evening. Bring out some soft throws to keep people warm, or maybe have a little fire in the fire pit after the meal for toasting marshmallow and making S’mores for dessert. Anything is more fun with the people you love around you.
You did it. And I’m just so proud of you.
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