DIY: Tabula rasa, Transformed for Thanksgiving

Family and friends are visiting this long holiday weekend, much fun will revolve around food, and the table should be special. For decorating, this year I was inspired by the outdoors. We live in a beautiful suburban Chicago neighborhood full of trees. Some oaks have stood for centuries here. I’ve collected acorns during walks, and our yard is full of pinecones and willow, maple and oak leaves.

This year’s theme is natural and simple. I hope this inspires you to look at what’s around you in autumn, and use it in decorating.

Here’s how I built the table, layer by layer. You can see the room already has autumn colors …

Blank slate:

Obviously it’s not a huge table. It can seat six, and eight only if you don’t mind bumping elbows a lot, so things are smaller scale.

I started with a rough scratchy burlap runner. The width covered the table, which I didn’t want, so I folded the ends over so the fringed selvedges showed in the middle:

The burlap got quite wrinkled while sitting in a bag, and it was a bear to iron. It’s still not perfect but that’s okay, wrinkles won’t show later.

I added candleholders made of teakwood roof shingles from Thailand:

Melted wax got all over one of them, but I didn’t clean it completely off. It won’t be noticeable when I’m done (plus, I have a whole house to clean, this is small fry and I don’t have time to deal).

I turned to our baskets full of candles:

I chose different colors, which are also all different fragrances so it was smelling pretty funky in the dining room. I’m hoping they’ll air out over the next few days. Or maybe more likely, we’ll get used to smelling it, and arriving family — who are fine to be honest — will let us know if it’s offensively strong!

The thing about the candles is, they’re votives. Votives liquidify. So this is not an appropriate way to use votives. They should be in deep holders to catch the melting wax. These candleholders are designed for 2″ x 3″ pillar candles. I used votives here for the color and don’t intend to burn them. Instead I’ll light the wicks briefly to singe them and make a little bit of pooling wax.

Next, I added some natural materials found around our property: pinecones, acorns, willow leaves, oak leaves, iris seeds. I scattered them about just as they fall around our house outdoors.

It’s slightly messy, just like our property right now.

Here’s the centerpiece:

We usually keep the food buffet-style on the kitchen island, so a centerpiece filling the middle of the table works for us.

Next for the table settings, I added autumn-color placemats purchased years ago from Crate & Barrel. They’re a mix of jacquard, dupioni and velvet fabrics. We’ve never had gravy drippings and other messes on them, so I honestly don’t know how they’d hold up, but hey, they’re pretty:

I like how the dressy placemats contrast with the burlap.

Next I added gold chargers purchased this summer at an estate sale. I think they were originally about $18 each at Crate & Barrel but I got them for $2 each. This is their first outing on our table:

Then I added celadon plates from Thailand:

I haven’t yet fully finished the table, because it will sit like this for a few days until Thursday, and I didn’t want too many things to get dusty. It still needs an element to bring some height (maybe taper candles that we’ll light), and obviously bigger plates, bowls, napkins, silverware and water and wine glasses. Meanwhile I wanted a partially-dressed table when people arrive … promises of a good autumn meal to come.

I’m taking about a week off of blogging to make time for family and friends over Thanksgiving. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving holiday too!

2 Replies to “DIY: Tabula rasa, Transformed for Thanksgiving”

  1. Pingback: My adorable funny cat can't wait for Thanksgiving FOOD. -

Do you have comments? A question? I'm happy to help and give answers!