I saw a beautiful table in a Michael Amini advertisement for his Bella Cera dining room furniture that inspired this post. I was amazed at how it looked so down-to-earth and elegant at the same time.
The solid wood table had no tablecloth. Each place had a woven round place mat or charger. (There are square versions of these out there if you have square dinner plates.) Before you decide that I’ve fallen back a couple of decades, wait for the finished result!
Any of these chargers I found individually for around $10.00 looked cheap or like they might fall apart after several uses, except for this one for $10.99 from Crate&Barrel.
I would suggest making the place mat/charger contrast with your table — as in light table, dark chargers or dark table, light chargers.
Most of these come in sets of four and the prices are comparable at common department stores. This dark brown rattan charger is from Kohl’s and comes in a set of four on sale for $35.99 (from $59.99).
I really loved the look of these Round Madras Chargers from World Market. Again they are comparable in price as a set of four is $35.96. I love the contrasting colors and unique weave.
Directly on top of these chargers were elegant plates. They appeared to be a blue floral pattern that matched the bowls sitting on top of them, but I envisioned instead solid white plates with a pattern around the rim. I love these Mikasa Dinnerware American Countryside plates for this look. They have little flowers scrolling around the rim. You can get them at Macy’s. (Click the image for a link to a closer look.)
Next came the blue and white bowls. Again, I’m going to use my own inspiration here, but I think something like these Paula Deen Tatnall Street Blue Bell Soup Bowls would look really pretty here. (And wouldn’t you know it — they’re on sale!)
(If you prefer the matching plates, there is a whole collection of coordinating items.)
The napkins are what really made this entire table look so charming. They were tucked slightly under each bowl, on top of each plate, and were clean and crisp but a bit rustic and rough around the edges. The ones in the ad appeared to be a soft pink or mauve, maybe even pastel purple color, which looked amazing and cheerful next to the blue in the bowls.
I really really like these purple napkins I found on Amazon, though I suppose you might want green, red or a peachy-orange for winter or fall. (And yes, these come in other colors!)
The table was decorated with plants, white votive candles and appetizers like a bowl of fresh-picked fruit, a loaf of bread on a wooden cutting board, and what appeared to be condiments like honey and jam. You can see the table by clicking the link in the first paragraph of this entry, but I am not going to post the original image because it had a sort-of European background and I want you to picture it in your own home, on your own table. I’m going to say it is “rustic elegance.”
I also ran across a couple more items that might be fun to add. How about some rattan coasters for cool drinks since there wasn’t a tablecloth? (The table was set with wine glasses in the ad.) A set of four is $12.95 at Pier1.
And I don’t know … I just liked this Pfaltzgraff chicken canister. Normally I would avoid decorating with chickens but this just seemed to fit the theme somehow. Maybe because of the woven basket design on the bottom. (It is labeled as a rooster. I disagree. I strongly believe this is a hen!)
I’m thinking this table would look beautiful for any occasion but I can seriously picture it next to a homemade easter egg tree in the spring. You know — the kind with the blown egg shells, dyed by kids and hung on a tree branch with a piece of ribbon? Or how about with pale orange napkins and harvest decor for fall? Switch to gold embellishments with deep reds and greens and maybe an evergreen centerpiece and it would be a beautiful rustic or old-fashioned Christmas table. The beauty is that it is very versatile.