Tablescapes have been a topic of great interest to me this year, mainly because I am in the process of completely changing everything in my entryway. When I was trying to decide what kind of piece to put in my front hall, one of my fellow bloggers commented that I seemed to be more interested in the tablescapes of the pictures that I posted, rather than the specific furniture piece in the picture. There was wisdom and insight in that observation! Perhaps this is because tablescapes are really like little still lifes, which appeals to the artist in me. I really think that the creation of a beautiful tablescape is a true form of artistic expression.
The term 'tablescape' is attributed to the British designer David Hicks (1929-1998), and he was a master at artfully arranging and grouping everyday objects, works of art, and accessories. In Hicks' words: "What is important is not how valuable or inexpensive your objects are, but the care and feeling with which you arrange them.” Patricia Gray did a wonderful write-up of David Hicks and his timeless interiors, so no need to replicate that here, but make sure to check out her post. It is very well written and well researched, with lots of pictures of Hicks work.
In my usual style, I did some research on tablescapes. I found an excellent guide in the principles of creating a tablescape on the website of a realtor/designer. Here are some of the basics that the author, Sandra Tuell, shared in her article.
- Select items for your tablescape based on the size and scale of the table surface
- Select an odd number for your composition; an old rule of thumb is that groupings of 3, 5, 7 or 9 is more pleasing than even number groupings.
- Use hardcover books as pedestals to elevate objects.
- Layer items as an artist creates a scene, with a background, middleground, and foreground.
A David Hicks masterpiece, from the Peak of Chic. This one certainly has great elements of arrangement, and all three planes - background, middleground, and foreground.
- Creat highs and lows to give dimension and depth
Barbara Westbrook Interiors. The whole arrangement has a great variation in heights with the mirror, sconces, and all of the items arranged on the console.
- Vary some of the textural elements in the tablescape - light/dark; shiny/matte; curves/straight lines.
A high impact tablescape from Anne Coyle Interiors. There is a lot going on here, but it works for me! This tablescape beautifully illustrates the concept of varying textures and lines.
The final recommendation from Sandra Tuell's article is a good one: use all of these points as guidelines, not as rigid rules. The most important guideline is to use your own personal treasures, things that inspire you, to create your own tablescape masterpiece.