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Tablescapes Update the Traditional Centerpiece With Limitless Creativity

Nothing seems more old-fashioned than the lone flower arrangement centered on a table. That’s why florists and event planners are replacing these traditional centerpieces with more fashionable groupings called tablescapes.

While they may look complicated to execute, tablescapes are actually quite easy and fun to create. Collections of random containers, scattered leaves, and loose blossoms mix with votive candles and all manner of decorative trinkets to offer endless possibilities.

Here are some tips for creating your very own tablescape:

• Start by gathering containers that will display the flowers. Small crystal and silver pieces group nicely and need only a few stems in each. The same goes for earthy pottery pieces that you may have never considered displaying together. Even a collection of multicolored bottles or mossy clay pots can look charming for casual decorating. Take inventory of any containers that you have on hand, then shop garage sales or flea markets for mismatched treasures that you can add to your existing inventory. 

• Don’t overbuy flowers. An affordable bouquet of mixed flowers from the supermarket or your local florist shop may be all that you need to complete this casual vignette. If you run short, clip a few stems of interesting foliage from the garden and mix them with the commercial blossoms.

• Don’t forget candles for an evening event. They add a flickering glow when they are dropped into simple votive cups or small glass vases. Remember, when food is being served, it’s best to choose unscented candles over those that are heavily perfumed to avoid a fragrance war.

• Adding “tablescatter” is a great way to enhance your tablescape. Leaves and petals work to expand a botanical theme, loose gems and pearls add sparkle, and mossy branches and geodes bring a natural quality to the collection. For seasonal touches, miniature pumpkins and gourds are ideal in the autumn, pine cones and cinnamon sticks are a match made for winter, and tiny, egg-filled bird’s nests look delightful in springtime.

• If your collection seems disjointed, try unifying the elements by placing them on a fabric runner or serving tray. Oftentimes, a simple solution—like a frayed piece of burlap or a silk scarf borrowed from the wardrobe—works best.

• If your tablescape begins to look cluttered or junky, don’t be tempted to add more elements to remedy the situation. Instead, try removing items that stand out, are too large or too small, or are the wrong color or texture. Remove one item at a time, adjusting the configuration as you go.

• Most of today’s popular tablescapes reflect a bohemian spirit with mismatched containers, random blossoms, and a heavy dose of kitsch, but there are other styles that work equally well. A garden version might feature moss-encrusted clay pots and glass cloches filled with fresh herbs sitting on a patch of grass and river stones, while an ultra-modern interpretation might employ a row of identical clear cubes filled with underwater callas and accessorized with tiny glass spheres.

• Lastly, don’t limit yourself! Planning a tablescape should be fun and creative—never worrisome or stressful. And contrary to what you may have heard, there is no monopoly on creativity. So give it a go.

Happy tablescaping!