A Conversation about Tablescaping for Dummies

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Today I’m thrilled to share a conversation about tablescaping with my niece, Jessie Weaver. Music Man and I just spent a wonderful long weekend in Chattanooga visiting family, as well as doing some touring in Atlanta. I enjoyed helping Jessie prepare for a party, and afterwards, Jessie wrote this guest post about her experiences, entitling it “Tablescaping for Dummies.”  I beg to differ. The blessing of creating a tablescape is that there are no wrong ways — or dumb ways — to do it. There is just YOUR way. And that’s what happened last weekend.

Jessie: When you are a self-confessed imbecile when it comes to home design, it’s a little intimidating to have your aunt, who blogs about tablescapes, come visit while you’re preparing to throw a dinner party. Really, though, it was a great blessing. The Expert went through my cabinets and drawers, helping me throw together a fantastic tablescape using only what I had.

Jennie: Jessie is a busy mom of three young children and had volunteered to host an engagement party for her sister and her fiancé. While I’m not really an expert at tablescaping, I was happy to help her pull together a setting for her party that could be accomplished with her existing tableware and would not add to her prep work. The only things she bought in advance were the daffodils.

Jessie: Here’s what I learned.

blue and yellow tablescape

Jessie: I didn’t have more than eight of any placemat and was having a party for ten adults. Jennie chose these two styles of placemats that both had dark blue, and so I mixed them. I used a mix of navy and gray cloth napkins from my stash as well.

Jennie: Mixing and matching materials in the same colorways is a staple of tablescaping. According to the research I found while researching my Downton Abbey tablescape post, mixing china patterns was also considered a sign of one’s wealth and prosperity. Jessie had a lot of blue, grey, and brown in her stash which worked perfectly for her tablescape. The table in the conference room where she hosted the party was well-used, but offered the perfect background color for Jessie’s linens.


Jessie: My starting place was the burlap ribbon and daffodils. Jennie went nuts over the dough bowl I have, which accented the rustic burlap but had a hint of shine. The big wooden salad bowl also worked together with this theme. Golden delicious apples brought in more yellow.

dough bowl with golden apples daffodils

Jennie: Jessie has beautiful formal china and flatware, which she used in this tablescape to play off the rustic elements of the dough bowl, burlap, and Ball jars holding the daffodils.


Jessie: Jennie reminded me to look for a color scheme (blue and yellow) and to incorporate shine, texture, rustic, and elegant aspects. For a Tablescaping Dummy, I think this party table turned out awesome! I am looking forward to going through my other linens and decor items to see what can go together for a lovely dining area.

Jennie: I enjoyed working with Jessie to create an easy, stress-free tablescape that she can recreate again and again. She chose daffodils as an homage to spring, but the same setting could be used with other flowers in other seasons. The apples in the dough bowl can also be replaced by decorative wicker balls or with Christmas ornaments. The elements of shine, texture, rustic, and elegance combined with a seasonal color are the hallmarks of an interesting tablescape.

Jessie Weaver


Jessie Weaver is Jennie’s niece, and the mom of three adorable kids under age 6 in Chattanooga, Tennessee. She invites you to come sit on her virtual couch and chat about the messy things of life. (@vanderbiltwife)

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14 thoughts on “A Conversation about Tablescaping for Dummies

  1. Oh that was cute reading. The table turned out great! They did a great job of mixing everything- it looks seamless! Chattanooga sounds like a great place to visit (anything but where I’m at- since we got snow again last night)! Happy first day of spring!

    • Liz, I will be telling some stories about our trip to Chattanooga and Atlanta — it was a whirlwind trip filled with history and great food!

  2. How fun, Jennie! What a fun weekend y’all had. I followed the link to Jessie’s twitter page and then on to her blog. I’m following her on twitter now and look forward to keeping up with her via tweets. 🙂

  3. Jennie, How wonderful for your niece to have an Aunt like you to help with the guidance to bring this lovely rustic and charming tablescape together. Blue and yellow is and always will be my favorite color combination, the daffodils are a perfect compliment for this lovely table. Have a wonderful weekend!

    • You just can’t go wrong with daffodils — they are one of our most beautiful flowers and they always arrive just when we need a boost after winter. Thanks for visiting, Candy.

  4. I love blue and yellow together!! This really came together nicely and I especially like the mismatched but coordinated placemats- that’s the norm around here too. I also mix my plain white everyday dishes with my blue and white Christmas dishes since I only have 4 of those. Very nicely done, Jessie!

    • Jamie, thanks for visiting and commenting. The key to a great tablescape is usually just to go for it and own it– who cares if the placemats and dishes are mismatched as long as they all coordinate?

  5. Your niece is cute as a button, and I love it that she looks up to your tablescaping expertise for guidance! It can be intimidating for Moms whose lives revolve around soccer camp and diapers and the PTA to settle their minds into thinking of all the elements required to create a beautiful and functional tablescape. I think Jessie did a terrific job of it, though. She seems to have already owned a lot of great basics, and that’s a great start for everybody!

    Way to pass on that knowledge, Aunt Jennie! 🙂

    • I feel as though we can’t say this enough, Alycia. I just want young women to trust their instincts and use their stuff, even if they are serving their toddler children. As we all know, setting a beautiful table becomes easier with practice.

    • Aw, thank you. Being told I’m cute as a button makes me feel as young as I think I am most times. Then I wonder how on earth I am old enough to have three kids.

      We are very fortunate to have a good mix of serving pieces and platters, many from our wedding, family cast-offs, and even gifts to my teacher husband! I love linens, too, so I probably have way too many placemats and cloth napkins. But they pay off in situations like this!

      • There is no such thing as too many linens, and I know that Alycia would agree with me. You ARE cute as a button!

  6. Your style is really unique iin comparison to other folks I’ve read stuff from.
    Thank you for posting when yoou have the opportunity,
    Guess I’ll just bookmark this blog.

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