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Set the Table for Style

From rustic wood to modern teak, two tables are taken from ordinary to amazing — all by incorporating elegant and inventive candlelight creations

The hardest part about these weekly columns is not coming up with ideas or staying up at night writing them. It’s coming up with photos to illustrate my points. I’ve shared with you photos from design projects, furniture buying trips and even family vacations, but those can only go so far. So when a container of new furniture came in I was thrilled — I had a whole bunch of new photo ops to go with my tips!

These two tables that arrived gave me the idea for this week’s column: how to accessorize various tabletops with candlelight.


Here are two teak wood dining tables that are very different in design and personality. One has a chunky base and a streamlined top. Although it has a weathered matte finish, its clean lines and simple design make it feel modern. The second table is made from reclaimed wood and is very rustic. On close inspection, you’ll find lots of irregularities and even some holes that add to its character. Its beauty lies in this raw top, which juxtaposes with the sleek metal base and grounds the table with a sense of strength.


Now let’s choose some candleholders for our pair of tables.

We have the elegant gold-brass holder, bronze and gold votive, an aluminum holder with green cactus tea lights, hammered silver candlestick, glass votive, and a silver and glass votive.

So here’s my question for you: For each table, one modern and the other rustic, which finish and style of candleholder would work best?

The truth is, this was a trick question! They would all work with either table. You can put almost any accessory on your tabletop. There are easy ways to mix elements to create the mood and setting you want and showcase the beauty of the dining table.

Here’s an example. Our modern, clean-lined dining table has an urban feel and a simple elegance. Because of its straight lines, adding the curves of the vines would give it a more formal appeal.

Bringing in gold chargers and crystal glasses in your place settings would up the elegance even more.

One that I absolutely loved was a flooring vendor. They were clever enough to realize that the best way to showcase their product was to add a style quotient. So they partnered with a designer to highlight their flooring with furniture, an accent wall, art and accessories, creating an overall look, and then they took it one step further by severely angling the floor. They had several displays of furniture where entire vignettes were tilted — it was so cool! It simply made you stop and take note of their beautiful flooring.

 To accentuate the urban feel and give it a funky, eclectic vibe, you could bring in aluminum tea lights and dress the table with natural-fiber placemats, streamlined silver flatware and mix-and-match glass-ware. Same table, just different candles and accents.

Now for our rustic table. To bring in some glamour, you could mix in glass votives with the hammered tall candlesticks. Touches like silver chargers in your place settings would instantly add an eclectic elegance.

If you want to play up the table’s rustic nature and metal base, you can bring in darker metals like the bronze-gold votives. Give it a smoldering feel with low lighting and a centerpiece of flowers and curly willow. Linen napkins tied with raffia and dark bronzed handled flat-ware would enhance the table’s ruggedness.

Are you getting the idea? There are endless ways that mixing and matching can create different looks for your tabletop. In the coming weeks, I’ll show you a before-and-after of a dining room that I designed, using just these tips to create an eclectic, glam space.

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