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ENTERTAINING | Creating a Minimalist Tablescape

April 15, 2022

Even though maximalism is making a big impact in the world of entertaining and weddings right now, I will always love a more minimalistic look. And, oddly for the exact same reason that I love maximalism. It all comes down to the details for me. With maximalism, there’s a feast for the eyes and so much to discover. The quality doesn’t have to be as great because your eyes have so many details to discover. With minimalism, the attention to detail is not only important but imperative to the success of the look, though in a completely different way. To execute minimalism right, the quality HAS to be there. The details have to be intentional. There’s no faking it. Because there’s nothing to divert your guests eyes, every element you select will be noticed.  If you’re a lover of minimalism but not sure where to start, here are just a few things to keep in mind as you execute this aesthetic:

While it’s not a hard rule in minimalism, we almost always opt for organic elements when creating this look. Handmade ceramic plates or soft to the touch Belgian linen napkins make the table both beautiful and inviting. Even our dinner menus are very intentionally designed typically using handmade papers. For the actual tables and chairs, we either opt for wood or a very high quality textile in a natural material to drape the table. We avoid things like brass, lucite, etc. While you can go “minimal” with a material like glass, lucite and the like, for me it takes the design from minimal to modern very quickly, which is a topic for another day.

The art of minimalism is to create something with very few elements in a way that is still interesting and beautiful. Because of this, your tablescape should only include the elements needed. Glassware (1 or 2 glasses only depending on what’s being served), A dinner plate (avoid bread plates, salad plates or anything not truly necessary), flatware, a napkin and light decor. When working with a minimal look, I keep the florals, candles, etc. very simple. Perhaps an Ikebana inspired floral piece paired with tea lights in a very clean and light beaker glass or even just a simple bud vase or two. I’ve even been known to simply line votive candles in a perfectly straight line and call it a day. Whatever you do, the table should have the absolute necessities and nothing else.

Because we’re including only on the necessities, this will leave negative space which many find peaceful to the eye. Of course, we will likely fill that space throughout the meal with wine bottles or platters of beautifully presented food. But, when guests sit down, the table should feel calming and play up the interesting aspect of having negative space throughout the table.

While, on occasion, we will add a tiny pop of color, for the most part, we like to keep our palette relatively neutral. And when we do add color, it’s a color that’s already natural to the environment we’re working in. So the flowers may have some earthy tones or we may use fresh fruits in a dusty palette, but we would rarely opt for something like a bright red if we’re designing a table oceanfront, for instance. We work with the environment in minimalism, rather than trying to create a huge impact that becomes the feature of the space.

Just because the palette is typically neutral, doesn’t mean it’s boring in any way. What we often lack in color, we make up for by using lots and lots of texture. Handmade porcelain plates, the most luxurious linens, stone bowls for the salad, etc. Don’t be afraid to layer many types of textures in the same palette. This is what truly brings your design to life.

As mentioned, every detail will be noticed when designing minimally, so every detail should be intentional. Each bloom in the centerpiece should be interesting and well placed. Every napkin should be lovely to the touch and every piece of glassware should be the perfect weight to serve that perfect wine or whatever else you may be offering.

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