Elegant Bleached Tablescape – How To

I have always loved the monochrome. Pick your hue and layer it with different depths of saturation and that’s my kind of ensemble or room or tablescape! I think it’s both modern and timeless, and I think it’s a great approach to holiday entertaining.

This year I’m bleaching it. I’m going with white-on-white. I love the way it forces you to look at ordinary, natural objects, such as a pinecone, differently.

Somehow it accentuates the subtleties of texture and shape. The white isn’t totally opaque so the warm wood tones come through, which I find captivating. This bleached tablescape could lend itself to a frosted wintertime look, especially if you mixed it with mercury glass and silver, or it could be warmer, say with touches of gold on plates or serving platters. And this restrained palette allows the food—which is really the focus of holiday entertaining—to be standout.

Creating a bleached tablescape is simple. It relies on gathering some things from your backyard or local park: I used fallen acorns, pinecones, aspen twigs. I love using the natural things around me and bringing them indoors. There is so much there if you look. I wish I had chestnuts, especially before they burst from their prickly coverings, but our squirrels have been too efficient this Fall.

Place your organic materials on drop cloths or butcher paper or newspaper.

With a can of semi-gloss white spray paint (I used Rust-Oleum) follow the manufacturer’s directions to apply a light coat of white. This doesn’t have to be even close to perfect. It looks better if the paint application is uneven—more opaque in some areas and more transparent in others.

Turn your objects once or twice to get at least a dusting of white on all sides. Allow them to dry. Typically you need to allow at least an hour for this.

Then, thinking of single-bloom floral arrangements, group your objects together for greatest impact. Use glass vases or serving bowls as containers and think about varying the shapes and sizes to create more interest. Bud vases or votive holders would look great filled with acorns. I took a trifle bowl and layered acorns and then pinecones. I also included some faux pumpkins and large gourds, purchased from my local craft store, and painted white.

Set all of it, of course, on a simple white table cloth and arrange to your liking. With a few little tweaks to add a bit of color (a touch of black, or silver, or gold, or red…) this will work for Halloween, Thanksgiving and the December holidays. Enjoy!

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