How I Narrowly Escaped Public Shame: The Table Setting That Was Full of Mistakes

Mistake #1:

For those of you who read my very first blog post, you know that I’ve already done one tablescape design.  My first mistake: I decided to do two table settings before I had even done one. 

In short, I let Facebook and Instagram followers decide on two looks from high profile designers that would provide inspiration for my two tablescapes.  Check out my first table setting post to see more about the whole process.  For this table design, Corey Damen Jenkins’ library design for the Kips Bay Show House was chosen as a crowd favorite.  It’s a real stunner; please take a moment to drool over it:

Corey Damen Jenkins’ Library Design – Kips Bay Showhouse

Still with me?  Well, I might have lost some of you.  But to the handful still here, I will tell you that Jenkins is the first Michigan designer to have designed a room at the Kips Bay Show House! Pretty cool, right?!  He was so gracious to humor and support me with my tablescape idea (having never have met me).  He reposted my poll on Instagram, so the pressure was on to do a good job!!  Yikes!

Mistake #2:

So off I went, collecting items for the table setting. My first find was a beautiful Schumacher floral linen that I planned to use for the tablecloth.  It had a lot of the color scheme from Jenkins’ library design. Jenkins is inspired by fashion and history and has a timeless design aesthetic, so I felt that vintage tableware was the way to go.  Thanks to my late grandmother, I have a bunch of china, glassware, and silverware at my disposal.  Honestly, I was so busy with the first tablescape and photoshoot that I kind of neglected this one.  Huge red flag!

Schumacher Linen

Mistake #3:

It was the day of the shoot, and I was already feeling a bit burnt out creatively – not good!  I picked up flowers from Peck & Petal Farm and dragged myself over to the shooting site.  Then nothing was going well.  The vintage vase I borrowed from my mom, thinking it would be a wonderful statement, turned out looking ugly as all get out!  The flowers in the vase just made it worse.  Have I sparked your interest?  Here’s a photo:

Failed attempt number one!

Mistake #4:

Also, the setting just wasn’t right for the style.  The home we shot in was beautiful in a well-traveled, boho lifestyle kind of way, and the table setting was meant to be timelessly traditional, stately, and elegant.  I should have known better. 

I nervously waited for the photos to come back from Amanda of Faith Maxwell, but I was too impatient.  I found a well-suited dining room (my parent’s) for the shoot and forged ahead on my own.  Mid-shoot, I received the photos from Amanda.  Confirmed – they were less than great.  The photography was excellent, but the content was crap.

Beautiful photography, but the table setting is lacking

But I was still struggling!  How to get such a formal, traditional setting to take a timeless, updated edge?!  I bought a plant with clean lines from Adorn Fine Flowers.  That helped for sure.  I switched out the silverware to an updated matte black.  Getting there… I added chargers for more pop.  I tried two different styles of napkins.  Thank god I wasn’t styling for an event!  I guess that’s why I’m in interior design instead of event planning…

Another failed attempt!

What I learned:

So what did I learn?  Table styling is a totally different beast than interiors.  So many surfaces for layering in a room, but in a table setting, you just have one flat surface to make dynamic.  Also, mock-ups could be helpful…

Finally got it right!!

In the end, I think I pulled it off.  Jenkins was kind enough to repost my final design (meaning he wasn’t appalled by my work to the point that he didn’t want to be associated with it).  Phew!  I think next time, I’ll give myself more time to play.  Nervous about hiring me after I admitted to all these missteps?  Hey, I learned a lot, and now I’ve got that much more in my back pocket!  And most people make plenty of mistakes in their careers; the key is owning up to it, learning from it, and making it right.

Cheers to learning from mistakes!

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