In our city apartment, silver ruled the roost. There were antique trophies, toast racks and teapots. Hotel silver for days. But up here, honeyed floors and dark wood beams sparked an altogether different obsession—brass. I'm not talking about the impossibly yellow, factory-polished finish of handrails across America circa 1982, but rather the timeworn patina of candlesticks burnished with age. In this house, amber hues—honey, brass, copper and gold—cast a warm, soothing glow, and for Thanksgiving especially, it just feels right.
This table began with a pair of spiral brass candlesticks I found antiquing in Los Angeles for a Weekend Shopper years ago, together with amber glassware collected over time. It's a monochromatic palette mixing tones and textures in a way that I think is modern but at the same time classic. As a magazine editor, whenever I was assigned a Thanksgiving story and had to style the table, there was always the delicate balance between what's fresh and familiar. Picking pretty things was important, yes, but more than that, I wanted people to relate. Here, for example, maybe you don't love the particular shade of yellow tapers (honeysuckle to be precise) as much as I do but are inspired to step outside the ivory zone and bring color to your candles! Maybe you don't care for mums, or even copper, but like the idea of simply removing a plant from its plastic vessel, placing it in something pretty and finishing it with moss. It's an inexpensive, no-fail centerpiece that lasts. Finally, I love gold Pickard—I think it's super chic in the right settings—so I placed a votive candle in a leaf dish surrounded by whole almonds. It's such an easy way of dressing up a simple votive, whatever dish (teacup, soup bowl, butter pat) you use.
The Art Deco china Jaithan and I found antiquing in Trenton for our very first blog post. Their leaf and urn pattern, octagonal shape, and unusual black and amber color palette are a rare combination. We only have six plates, and I wish I could find more! The place card idea is super fast, especially when you're in a crunch. Simply iron a napkin, roll it up, then tie twine around it. Cut thin strips of paper, write or print your guests' names, then curl the edges with a pencil in opposite directions. It's quick, easy and inexpensive!!
In my experience, memorable tables are in the details—the little things that often make the biggest impact. Consider, for a moment, salt and pepper. In a Top Chef world, our food is seasoned to perfection, but the reality is that everybody's palettes are different. We like what we like, and so do your guests. So why not bring beauty to the table with salt cellars and pepper shakers in surprising combinations? The vintage Pickard salt cellars I picked up at a thrift shop in Kansas City, while the pepper shakers I found at an antique mall in Maine. Together, they sit on a porcelain leaf dish Jaithan found just last week here in upstate New York. But even if you prefer glass salt cellars over gold, silver over porcelain, it's the details that make all the difference.
Now that our copper is back, I thought I'd use this pierced compote, lined with a linen napkin, for Parker House rolls. The hinged tongs, probably from the 20s, I found at the New York City flea market years ago. In my mind, mixing metals is eclectic and unexpected. High-end jewelry designers do it all the time—in bracelets, necklaces, and timepieces—so why not bring that kind of luxury to the table?
For the flatware, I opted for French Ivory dinner knives and Gorham silverplate spoons, together with honey Bakelite butter knives. Their pale yellow hues bring a modern, matte contrast to the sparkling amber of the glassware. The wine glasses are 1970s, while the water goblets are from the 40s. I love the clear swirl stems of the newer glasses, together with the amber bowls of the vintage goblets. Glassware for water and wine are the perfect opportunities to mix traditional and modern shapes in surprising ways. Finally, layering textures—the tablecloth slubby, the runner more refined—adds subtle depth without overpowering the palette.
For all of you hosts and hostesses out there, Thanksgiving, I know, can be stressful. My advice? Set the table two, three days in advance. Work it out early! That way, you have time to experiment and actually enjoy the creative process without worrying about a bird in the oven, sides to prepare and whether Uncle Lewis has already had enough to drink!
To everyone of you, following us faithfully on this journey, from the bottom of our hearts—thank you. Have a safe and happy Thanksgiving!