I have been LOVING the buffalo plaid everywhere this season! For me and most Minnesotan born, buffalo plaid is not a current trend, it is a token of our home and childhood. Plaid flannel is the uniform of the North American Logger and outdoors-people for it’s comfort, durability and warmth. Paul Bunyan, a mythical logger in American Folklore, is usually seen sporting this pattern. Minnesota kids grow up wearing their dad’s plaid flannels while roasting marshmallows around fall campfires. They also saw it on a 26′ high Paul Bunyan who would miraculously speak their names as they entered a magical world of logging, amusement park rides and games called Paul Bunyan Land.
While looking for Christmas decor, I stumbled upon a buffalo plaid tablecloth and instantly an image of my Thanksgiving table flashed before my eyes. These types of things sometimes happen to designers! The conceptual phase of any project can be a very detailed, long process or a fast, direct one. I absolutely love this phase of any project and excel in brainstorming fast and fantastic ideas! I will never forget a fellow interior design student remarking on how quickly I could ideate. When she was trying to figure out a new concept for a project… she would think, “what would Erin do”.
When I saw the tablecloth, I envisioned a Woodland Harvest Thanksgiving. Giving thanks to the fruits of the woodland. I had turkeys on my mind since I had just ordered ours from a local farm I felt was humanely caring for their turkeys. It made me think of turkey hunting in Northern Minnesota and what a wild turkey’s life is like. My table is a tribute to them. The woodland is where they live and they are the main harvest of this holiday. I am still unsure if even buying a free-range turkey is the right thing to do. Even though it’s life is better than some, it is still living to be harvested. Have you ever seen a turkey in the wild? It is an amazing and beautiful thing.
I am always drawn to geometric and bold patterns, so I paired the buffalo plaid tablecloth with a gold botanical diamond patterned Nate Berkus table runner. I accentuated the diamond shape with similar shaped candleholders and diagonally folded napkins. I decided to layer my napkins to give my table a more luxurious appearance. Especially since I decided to forgo using placemats and chargers. None of the placemats and chargers I own worked with the tablescape and I really didn’t want to buy new ones. Doubling the napkins also helped to break up the tablescape and added an interesting detail to catch the eye. I also doubled my tablecloth to give a softer sensation to the touch. I simply placed a plain black tablecloth under my buffalo plaid tablecloth making sure it was not visible.
I knew I needed to have woodland accents for my Woodland Harvest table. I “pretty please with sugar on top” asked my parents to ship me log slices, since they conveniently live in a woodland. My mom also sent along her vintage wood candleholders and gorgeous napkins from Aitkin Flowers & Gifts (her flower shop). For my floral arrangement, I had seen a Pistil & Vine design online that I fell in LOVE with. The owner and florist, Megan Miezio Musshoot, had paired brightly colored flowers with a shelf mushroom. It was the perfect centerpiece for my Woodland Harvest table. Everything came together so beautifully. I loved everything. The abundance of candles really made the table glow and feel so cozy on a chilly Chicago night. My toddler looked at the table in wonder and exclaimed, “this is amazing!” That look of wonder makes my heart sing! He and his little sister especially loved the little Thanksgiving play space I set up for them in front of the fireplace. It changed things up for them (those items are usually in their bedroom) and entertained them for at least a little bit, while daddy and I tried to cook!
Each recipe we made to celebrate Thanksgiving was fabulous! I definitely will be doing the cranberry chutney again. It was an intense flavor that provided a delicious contrast to all the thyme and rosemary flavored dishes. This year was my first ever pumpkin pie! I am an apple pie woman all the way through, but I wanted to have a new challenge. The recipe was fantastic… from Thomas Keller’s Bouchon Bakery’s Pasty Chef, Alessandra Altieri. I will bake any recipe related to Thomas Keller because they are always amazing! This one was no different. All the wonderful food and design really made me appreciate all the wonderful things we have on this earth. We truly have a harvest worth celebrating. Cheers to all!
- Appeal to the senses: soft textiles, warm crackling candles, sweet smelling flowers, fun colors and patterns.
- Layers add a luxurious look and feel.
- Vary your heights. Whether a lot or a little, it gives more interest and movement to your design.
- Use a mix of ivory and white for added depth.
- A symmetrical design is always an excellent choice for a tablescape. It is pleasing to the eye and balances the space.
- Mix bold with bold.
- Ground your place settings and centerpieces with runners, napkins, placemats, chargers, etc…
- I think we can all agree that mixing metals is completely acceptable! It is a great way to provide variation and excitement on a table.
- Mix in heirlooms or meaningful items to make the table more special and to provide a great conversation with guests.
- Make what you have work! It is an exciting challenge! For example: I would love a nicer set of plates, but it is not something we want to invest in right now. Using bold patterns, layered textiles and herb bouquets makes any plate look great! It draws the eye away and enhances the overall look.
- Personalized place settings. If you don’t use flowers or herbs, use candy or a name card. Anything for guests to touch and admire when they sit down. It is a great way to make your guests feel welcomed and special.
- Think of all your guests… even the littlest ones! Providing a little fun for them will make everyone feel at home!
Components + Credit
- photos – Erin Catlin
- design – Erin Catlin
- floral centerpiece – Pistil & Vine
- buffalo check tablecloth – Pottery Barn
- nate berkus table runner – Target
- now designs napkins – Aitkin Flowers & Gifts
- gold napkins and gold candleholders – Crate & Barrel
- log slices – Minnesota