Last summer, while shopping the Goodwill in San Francisco for the Headless Horseman's clothes, I spotted this fantastic wool blanket from the 20s. I'm always on the lookout for color inspiration, and here was a palette so unusual and pretty, particularly for a tartan plaid, I quickly imagined a Thanksgiving table setting that's unexpected, fresh, and fun!
Flash forward a few months, and I'm downstairs in our prop house searching for an early Wedgwood set of china in purple lusterware I thought would be perfect with the blanket. Lusterware, by the way, has such a nice sheen to it that's achieved by applying a metallic solution to the porcelain surface before the final firing. It comes in all sorts of colors, but purple and pink are my favorites. (Shocking, isn't it?) A pair of these, a set of those—oh, wouldn't they be perfect?—and here's what I came up with.
It's a little bit of rustic and a lot of refined. Modern but cozy. The colors I'm obsessed with, especially for Thanksgiving. I love a harvest palette, but why not mix it up? After all, when it comes to setting the table, rules are meant to be broken. It's your table anyway, so do what makes you happy. For me, it was hand-dipped tapers from this fantastic source, together with a centerpiece of cranberries, walnuts and white pumpkins, assembled in an ironstone leaf compote I picked up at the DC Flea. How easy is that?
The china is a total mix of periods, but I kept the soup bowl and charger quiet so the lusterware sings. The markings too are works of art in themselves. The creamware soup bowls I found at Elephant's Trunk in New Milford. I think it was the ferns and forget-me-nots that hooked me. The Wedgwood lusterware I found at the New York City flea market, while the charger is the more modern Edme pattern we use everyday. Remember the tea set from way back when?
With so much color and pattern in the tablecloth, I wanted to keep the flatware simple. It's a German set that's hand-engraved with an "MS" monogram. I found a complete set of 10 at the Annex Garage in the city years ago. I'm not sure whose it was, but they're part of my family now.
My surefire way to modernize a table is stemware. The wine glasses are handblown crystal from our Etsy shop, yours for the taking, while the cranberry glass goblets I found at Stormville last summer.
Jaithan and I must have dug through five boxes of newspaper before unearthing a full set of 10. Check it out!
In my experience, memorable tables are all in the details. The set of six Heisey footed dishes I used for votives with a ring of cranberries to pick up the colors of the cloth. For a no-fail centerpiece, place a pillar candle on a platter surrounded by cranberries and walnuts. It's natural, colorful and quick! The pewter salt cellar is part of a pair I found antiquing in Hyde Park with "R" monogrammed spoons I found at a thrift shop in Millerton.
The way I see it, there are no hard and fast rules for setting a table, even for Thanksgiving. While I don't recommend reinventing the wheel completely, put your own spin on it—use unconventional elements, think outside the box, mix up the palette. Speaking of, what colors are you planning for your Thanksgiving table?