The Ace of Entertaining :: Setting The Perfect Table

I grew up in a home where formality ruled the day, as much as it could with five children. My mother insisted on white gloves to church, backs straight as a ramrods, and our patent leather Mary Jane’s buffed to a point that I swear I could see my reflection. For most of my childhood I believed that “please” and “thank you” always began any sentence structure. There were dinner parties, where roasted pheasant sat underneath sterling silver chafing dishes paired with fragrant bowls of wild rice, and poached asparagus.  The main course often made possible after a successful day of bird hunting courtesy of my father, his “cronies” and a group of well trained bird dogs.  Before we could serve ourselves, we would line-up like the kids from the Sound of Music and wait for the guests to be served before we were allowed to fill our plates. I would like to mention that we did not have to “sing for our supper.” Thankfully.

For most of my formative years,  I was under the impression that we were somehow related to Emily Post, because my mother would always threaten us with the words “If you don’t behave, I’m going to have to write to Emily Post, and then she’ll be coming for a visit.” What? Was Emily the Santa Claus of good manners? Would she show up with a perfectly coiffed “Pillbox bob” a la Jacqueline Kennedy, her short boxy jacket crisply pressed paired with a pencil skirt hemmed to fall  just below the knee,  just to lecture me on a breach of etiquette? Or worse yet,  take away my television privileges, as my mother would often threatened us. The thought of never watching the Partridge Family was enough to ensure that I lived my childhood days under the guise of perfect behavior.

I left the proverbial nest at eighteen to attend an institution of higher learning, armed with an arsenal of etiquette “do’s” and “donts” and knowledge on how to set the perfect table. It didn’t help me get a job after college, but it did help me on the job when I worked in Washington (in the political arena), and attended lavishly appointed State dinners, and parties hosted at some of the more prestigious addresses in Georgetown. Yes, I know the difference between the seafood and salad fork, and even know that you do not drink out of finger bowls, (as one of my dates once did). So when I was in NYC in April, and saw the stunning table settings for DIFFA , it brought me back to a time when having the perfectly set table was becoming for a person of good breeding. While, it is no longer the harbinger of proper decorum, I do think that putting effort and thought into the table setting will help create an evening to remember for family and friends. Plus, it’s just plan fun to think “outside the box” and create a tablescape that is memorable and will show your guests that they are worth the extra effort.  I wanted to highlight some of my personal favorites from DIFFA (although they were all worthy of mention), and hopefully you will be inspired to set the perfect table…P.S. My apologies to Margaret Russell, Editor-in-Chief of Architectural Digest, of whom I mistook for Mary McDonald. In my defense they do look alike after a few glasses of Champagne….

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

This dreamscape with watercolour fabric was designed by Kara Mann as a tribute to Maya Romanoff.

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

3M Architectural Market Table by Rottet Studio. 

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 Photo credits/ The Ace of Space Blog

A tablescape courtesy of Barney’s N.Y…

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

The gauzy fabric surrounding this table was imprinted with architectural details…by none other than Phillip Gorrivan.

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

 This tablescape was designed by the team at Ralph Lauren, the cascading floral arrangement hanging over the table was pure genius…

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

This fun room was designed by the Pratt Institute…how sweet are the whimsical mosaic tiles?

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 Photo credit/ The Ace of Space Blog

Love the Andy Warhol vibe of this tablescape…

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Photo credit/ The Ace of  Space Blog

A DIFFA tabletop in watercolour….

Elegant Place Setting

A “pinnable” guide to setting the perfect table…If you are serving white and red wine with multiple courses, the water glass would be placed to the left of a red wine glass, then a white wine glass would proceed the red, usually the coffee cup and saucer would not be placed on the table until the dessert course…

I do want to mention that the table displays were set for a very worthy cause, DIFFA, which stands for “Design Industries Foundation Fighting Aids.” As someone who has lost several friends to this tragic disease, I  wanted to acknowledge the purpose behind this fabulous event designed to bring awareness to AIDS and help find a cure, additionally a “standing ovation” to all those who have devoted their time and resources to make this event a resounding success who selflessly worked for “the cause and not the applause.”

As always don’t forget to visit Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram & Twitter for more design inspiration. I hope you enjoyed the first in what I hope will be a long running series-“The Ace of Entertaining.”

As always,

Be Inspired. Be Amazing.

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