All that glitters just might be faux! One approach to setting an opulent-looking table involves writing large checks (and perhaps hiring a decorator). Isn't it more challenging, more affordable, and, I think, far more FUN to assemble a collection of vintage items from estate sales, antique shops/malls, and thrift stores? That's what I did for this week's table.
Some of you noticed that I've been away for a couple of weeks. It was nice hearing that I've been missed. I've missed all of you as well! The first part of my "away time" was spent at a work-related conference. After that, I spent a few days in Harrodsburg, the oldest city in Kentucky. My fifth great-grandfather is said to be buried in the pioneer cemetery there (killed by British-led Indians on an expedition with Daniel Boone, according to family lore). The old cemetery is located in a state park in the middle of town that features a replica of the original settlement, Fort Harrod, and the (actual) log cabin where Abraham Lincoln's parents were married.
What does all that have to do with tablescaping? There was an antique mall in Harrodsburg where I acquired a set of china. Is anyone surprised that I came home with dishes?
For today's table, I began with the plates and then selected items I thought would create a suitable "environment" for them. There's a lot of "faux" gold and plated silver on the table. I always compare silverplated flatware to good costume jewelry. It's not quite as special as sterling, but it's affordable and adds so much variety, style, and sparkle ... at a fraction of the cost!
I set a table for six in the dining room. I thought the gold tones of the chandelier, the dome above it, and the window treatments would provide a nice setting for the gold and green on the table.
I started with a champagne colored tablecloth and overlaid it with gold lamé fabric. Then I covered that with white tulle printed with glittery gold stars. The fabric came from a salvage store and the total for both pieces was only $2.
The crystal is by Hawkes. The stem number is 4074, and it features a laurel pattern and vertical cuts. It's probably from the early 1950's. I purchased it at an estate sale on the second day when prices were being slashed. It's a large set that also includes sherry glasses and juice/oyster cocktail stems.
Hawkes, like Rock Sharpe, was an American company that achieved great success in the first half of the 20th century by decorating glassware ("blanks") produced by other manufacturers. Their skilled artisans added crisp (usually geometric) cutting, etching, gilding, etc. Hawkes produced sets of crystal for heads of state and at least two US presidents.
The candleholders are from Goodwill, and cost $3 for the pair. The crystal compote was purchased at an indoor flea market in Harrodsburg for only $8. I have no idea who the manufacturer is. I suspect that it isn't old, but I like the shape, it's clear, and it sparkles very nicely.
The plates are by Haviland. I haven't researched the pattern, but the backstamp includes the following words: Haviland, Limoges, and France. It's not a complete set, but it has enough dinner, salad, and bread plates to serve ten ... plus several extra pieces. My favorite piece is the sugar bowl ... lots of gold trim!
Have you noticed that modern dinner plates are larger than most vintage ones? It seems that plates have been "super sized" along with restaurant portions and appetites. I recently read a tip for people dieting that suggested using smaller plates that appear fuller (and supposedly more psychologically satisfying) with far less food served on them.
I used a double layer of charger plates to add interest and balance. The gold colored ones are acrylic, and the others are silverplated. The acrylic chargers are widely available at department/discount stores (mine are from Goodwill). The silver ones were on sale at an antique mall.
I was planning to do an arrangements of perennial mums from the garden, but it had rained ALL day and everything was soaked. I decided to go with pears ... faux ones at that. I hope you're not disappointed. I promise we'll have fresh flowers the next time you stop by for dinner!
The chandelier has a dimmer switch. I think the ability to dim the lights is essential to creating a mood of comfort and relaxation during a dinner party (or any time at all!).
Here's the table with the candles lit and the overhead lighting halfway between bright and dim.
And now with the lights much dimmer. Quite a difference, no?
With the layers of fabric, I was trying to create a bit of shimmer, a gossamery look. What do you think? Did it work?
Don't tell my other crystal patterns, but I think this one is my favorite! The ornate but clean-lined stems are what I find most appealing about them. I also enjoy the way the wheel-cut designs reflect light from the candles.
Here's a closer view of the sugar bowl.
The pears lit by the tea light candles below ... not bad as fakes go, are they?
A closer view of the thrift store candleholders. I've finally found a use for the gold-plated salt and pepper shakers. They never quite seemed to go with anything else I had.
The glass compote again ...
The "swinging from the chandelier" view, à la Julio and Susan!
The votive holders are "junk store" finds that add lots of sparkle at minimal expense.
A closer view of the crystal pattern.
A few of these glasses had tiny rim chips (flea bites/chigger bites). Smoothing them with a file was my first attempt at making damaged glassware usable. They're pretty fragile. I used too much pressure on one of the oyster/cocktail stems, and it shattered in my hand. I was lucky ... no injuries (just wiped a tiny tear and moved on to the next one), but be careful if you try it at home.
The flatware is "Triumph," 1941, by Rogers/International. I found it on sale at an antique mall in a booth that was closing. It's the grille/viande style (long handles on the knives and forks).
I included the round soup spoons in the place settings just for fun. I think they're pretty and wanted you to see them!
You've seen these napkins before HERE. I purchased them at an estate sale. They're a rayon blend fabric that feels very soft and luxurious.
The "napkin rings" are easy to make using wired ribbon. Each one takes about 1 foot of ribbon (I didn't measure). I tied a double knot and added clip-on earrings as ornaments. The earrings were new (price tags still on them ... up to $20 per pair ... Anne Klein, etc.). They came from my favorite local junk store ... 3 pairs totaled only $1.
Sometimes I like the flatware chests almost as well as what's inside them. This one showed signs of age and had numerous imperfections. I matched the color using artist grade acrylics and made the scratches disappear. Voilà!
The tarnish-resistant lining was in near-perfect condition. And ... it has the "Good Housekeeping Seal of Approval!" How nice is that?
Haviland Limoges china, $42.50
Hawkes stemware, $40
"Triumph" silverplated flatware, $30