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Interior Design: Creating Compelling Tablescapes

Jul 2, 2008
In a modern home, people sometimes avoid displaying personal items because they don't want to detract from the contemporary design of their home. In decades past, many popular decorating trends put a lot of focus on home accessories and overloaded tablescapes. Modern contemporary design puts the focus on the simple elegance of the furniture and other major pieces rather than hiding them behind layers of accessories. Displaying personal items or creating a tablescape can sometimes feel like a step backwards. On the other hand, if a room lacks any personal touches at all, it can end up looking stark and uninviting rather than modern and elegant. The key to a contemporary tablescape is displaying the things that are important to you without overburdening the room.

One of the things people seem to miss the most when they have made the move from outdated, overdone décor to contemporary décor is photographs. Rather than creating a tablescape with a large group of small photographs spread across a table, choose between one to three larger photograph to display together at one end of a table. This can add a needed personal touch without adding clutter.

If you have a single piece of sculpture or a large item that you would like to showcase within a room, place it on a table by itself. In many cases, trying to add more to the table can take away the visual impact that the single large item has when displayed by itself.

If you have a few small to medium sized objects that you want to display, a good rule of thumb is to group things in odd numbers. A single item or a group of three generally is a good way to start a tablescape grouping. Depending on what the objects are and their size, a group of five or seven may also look attractive. Tablescape objects can also be appealing when grouped by color, shape or texture.

The key to an attractive tablescape is to play around with it. Don't expect to get it right the first time. It can take a bit of living with an arrangement and adjusting things every once in a while before you have a contemporary tablescape you like.

When beginning to work with a tablescape, gather several items that you might like to display in the room. If you are working with a rectangular table, such as a side table, start by choosing one to three items from the several you'd like to work with. See how it looks with the item or items in the middle of the table, then on one end of the table or the other. If something doesn't look quite right, switch an item out with one of the other items you have gathered. If you are working with a central table, such as a coffee table, keep in mind that your tablescape will be viewed at all angles.

Once you have a tablescape that pleases you, live with it for a few days. As you sit with it, you will begin to see what doesn't quite look right, and what might look better. It may take a week or so of trying different arrangements, but the time it takes will be worth it when you have an elegant tablescape that brings a personal touch into the room.
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