Courtney's corner

fresh style for mom

Without a doubt, most moms are OK with avoiding the long waits, overcrowded restaurants and mediocre prix fixe menus that accompany Mother's Day celebrations at restaurants. Why not move the festivities back home for a Mother's Day brunch the whole family can appreciate?

Invite a few of Mom's best friends over and pamper them to a brunch filled with good food, good company and a beautiful setting. Setting a beautiful table is not that different from creating a beautiful room with a balance of color, pattern, texture, sheen and a pop of whimsy.

Mother's Day tablescape
Photo credit: Adza

Use these guidelines and designer secrets to create the perfect backdrop for your Mother's Day table or for your next special dinner.

Bold tablecloths

A strong visual backdrop sets the mood for any space. In this case, the navy-and-white chain patterned tablecloth is the anchor to the otherwise colorful tablescape. The widely spaced pattern provides visual texture, but the large expanses of white counteract the vivid hues and busier patterns elsewhere in the tablescape.

Designer secret: Anything can be used as a tablecloth! In this case, a king-sized top sheet was hemmed to create the tablecloth. As long as the fabric can be machine washed, the possibilities are endless.

Mother's Day tablescape -- The centerpiece
Photo credit: Adza

The centerpiece

Floral arrangements don't have to be expensive and daunting. When in doubt, stick with flowers with large flowering heads in one color. For the main arrangement, white calla and stargazer lilies were grouped in bundles and supplemented with small cut branches. Smaller individual arrangements were created for each guest in small milk glass dessert cups for additional color. If you are going to attempt a mixed floral arrangement, limit the palette to one additional color. The mix of purples and pinks pop off the white background of the tablecloth and play up the pinky hues of the lilies.

Designer secret: In the small milk glass floral arrangements, a lattice of transparent tape was used to help support the flowers. Once filled with flowers, the tape is completely hidden.

Mother's Day tablescape -- the placesetting
Photo credit: Adza

Place settings

Dishes, silverware and napkins don't need to match, just coordinate. The abstract, almost painterly pattern of the salad plates plays nicely with the more fun and geometric pattern of the ikat dinner plates. Mismatched napkins and fun green cutlery finish off the place setting.

Designer secret: Fabric remnants make for perfect and inexpensive napkins. The remnants should be a minimum of 24 inches by 24 inches to allow for at least a 1-inch double border. For best results, be sure to wash and preshrink your fabric before starting!

Mother's Day tablescape -- stemware and placecard
Photo credit: Adza


Crystal is nice, but it can be too formal for casual gatherings. Instead, try milk glass or pressed glass, as they come in an array of colors and sizes. For this table, we used American hobnob milk glass along with blue and white French opaline glass to create height and color interest. While getting more popular, milk glass and pressed glass can be found for a song at many garage sales and thrift shops.

Designer secret: When searching for milk glass watch out for yellow stains, as they typically are signs of prolonged sun exposure, which can permanently discolor white milk glass.

Place cards

Who says that place cards have to have writing on them? Instead, create cartoon caricatures of your guests. One-dollar frames were sprayed a peppy coral to coordinate with the table. Your guests can then take the caricatures with them at the end of the party as a keepsake.

Designer secret: Can't draw? Well, then trace! To recreate this project, pull a picture from your friend's social network and scale to the size of your frame. Turn your computer screen to its brightest setting and you have an instant lightbox! Lay a piece of paper over the image on the screen and trace away.

Follow these rules and it is all but guaranteed that Mom will be requesting a repeat for next year!

More Mother's Day ideas

Beyond just flowers: Precious plants for mom
Best living gift guide for your mom
The ultimate handmade Mother's Day gift guide



Comments on "Courtney's Corner: Style-savvy tips for the Mother's Day table"

courtney { a thoughtful place} May 09, 2013 | 4:12 PM

Courtney!!! It's gorgeous. And giving me some fun ideas for my mom this weekend. Thank you!

Alycia Nichols May 03, 2013 | 7:17 PM

Fabulous, Courtney! Very youthful...just like today's Moms! You rendered some excellent, tips, too. I really like the idea of the caricature place cards! So cute!!! I have GOT to learn to be more of a friend to spray paint. I just always forget about it as an option in life! Glad to hear you're not knocked up! ;-)

cassie {hi sugarplum} May 03, 2013 | 7:17 AM

LOVE this table!!! Courtney is the absolute best...thrilled to see his column every month!!

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