There’s a distinct return to all things pretty and subtly delicate on the style circuit, and I must admit, it is joyful. For years, design brought us a look that was plenty sophisticated with clean palettes, edited appointments, and streamlined forms with no scrolls, no frills, no extra pizzazz. In retrospect, it lacked a voice and that personality that evokes emotion, spirit, and joy to a decorative situation.

But now we’re at a different point in time and what’s beautiful in design now is also charming and lovely, too. Both worlds of fashion and home design can’t get enough florals and other feminine details. Add a vintage layer, and in comes that soft, pastel palette that oftentimes so beautifully accompanies nostalgia.

For a recent lunch with girlfriends, I fashioned a tablescape that was feminine, elegant, and a celebration of pale colors and the dainty wares that made the gathering feminine.



The foundation for my artful scheme was key. Christopher Farr’s pale blue “Peonies” printed linen grounds the setting but is barely there with only the slightest hint of pigment. I chose this fabric for its hand that appears faded like a vintage cloth that’s seen decades of lunches and dinners in an old English country house and had been washed and washed again into faded beauty.

Atop the cloth is where I built what looks like a watercolor painting with color direction that is polite and ladylike with faded intensity. Printed napkins with a hemstitch from one of my favorite brands, Loveshack Fancy, add another layer of lovely to the mix. Don’t worry about matching your napkins to the tablecloth. Pretty florals of varying scales and tones work beautifully together and contribute to the layered vintage vibe. A classic creamware pattern is charged with delicate raised ornamentation that begs for additional patterns to pop off its neutral base.

Salad, dessert, and bread-and-butter plates—all in variations of vintage blue patterns—support another time but look so fresh and current in 2021. In chic and elegant pink, a toile napkin is secured with a simple ribbon that tucks a mini flower stem for the sweetest adornment.



Glassware takes a cue from the pink-and-blue color team. I added solid glasses in both hues. Water, wine, pink lemonade, take your pick. The glasses are ready to be filled with whatever beverage that keeps guests enjoying each other’s company all afternoon. Ivory-colored flatware and gold candlesticks heighten the elegance of the gathering. Floral arrangements are the bounty of my garden and pull together the visual statement.

There is so much to be learned as we circle back through history. Palettes are nothing new, nor is the hunger to see something beautiful. So the next time a meal with friends or family marks a date on the calendar, take a look back—to your grandmother’s china or an aged estate sale find and then move forward. I promise you (and your guests) will love what they see and will be smitten with joy.