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Tablescape presentations aren’t just for holidays

“There is no useful rule without an exception.” — Thomas Fuller, M.D. (1608-1661), English churchman and historian, “Gnomologia” (1732)

Webster doesn’t seem to know what a tablescape is, so aren’t you lucky because I do. For those of you who have read my tips, you will know that I have two entries about tablescapes: one, vary the heights on your tablescape; and, two, learn what a tablescape is. The second one is from the creative muse.

So today we’re going to talk about not only what it is but how to create beautiful and exciting ones.

And I have to tell you, I went to see some model homes this weekend, and I was somewhat amazed about the tabletop presentations. As one who does a lot of this, for myself and others, I had some good, bad and indifferent thoughts. I know it’s not any of my business, but I still get to have my ideas. Right?

To start with, any piece of furniture that has a flat top can be home to a tablescape. That includes tables, dressers, bureaus and bookcases.

Do you realize just how important tablescapes are? Some major shelter (home, design, etc.) magazines have tabletop editors. Really.

Like magazine editors, I hope we all realize the importance of accessories. Those pieces we bring into our home to accessorize our space are just as important — or more so — as the major pieces. The entire look of a room can be enhanced or ruined by these important purchases.

It seems that originally the term was used to describe a holiday or special occasion table. But, please, we know that every day is special, and so should every tabletop be special. There are simple rules for tablescapes, and when you know them, you can have so much fun creating these little mini-environments.

Rule No. 1: Remember the rule of three or rule of odd numbers. When setting up your tablescape, keep in mind that the eye likes to see an odd number of things. We could go on and on about that, but trust me, it’s true.

So when picking pieces for your tablescape, pick three, five, seven, etc. More than likely you won’t exceed five. And for smaller surfaces, you might just have one; for instance, a small bedside table might just have a lamp. That’s perfectly OK.

Rule No. 2: For interest, pick different shapes, finishes and heights for your scape.

And that, my friends, is pretty much it. The rest is left up to your creativity and interests.

So now we have a blank canvas — a nice clear surface on which to create our little masterpiece. Let’s pretend the surface is that of a table next to a sofa or chair.

In creating a tablescape we also have to think of practicality. On our table, we will probably start with lighting because it’s next to seating. So, our first piece will be a lamp, and it will serve as the anchor for the creation.

Now you can add other pieces, graduating size and height. If you have something you want to use but it’s a tad smaller than you want, use books to raise it up and give it more importance.

Mix round, square and flat pieces to create interest, and if you maintain some sense of sameness with either color or theme, your choices are unlimited. Examples include a lamp, a picture frame and a smaller box, basket or bowl. Books are also excellent for tabletops, either by themselves or, as pointed out before, as a base for a smaller piece.

Being an expert in anything opens you up for all manner of compliments and people seeking advice. When your friends and family see how expertly you have now managed your space, look out, you will be in great demand.

Keep in mind that as with all design and decoration, there is no decorating police; it’s your space and you can do what you wish with it. But if you can follow a few simple suggestions and make everything better, why wouldn’t you?

Carolyn Muse Grant is a design consultant and creator of beautiful spaces. Questions can be sent to her at creativemuse@cox.net.

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