Setting the Table with Stephanie Shaul
As soon as I began planning our photo shoot for The Gathering Collection, I knew it would not be complete without a beautiful tablescape to set the tone. So much of the collection's color palette and textures were pulled from photos of parties and celebrations, so my inspiration for the table came together quickly. I loved looping in Raleigh-based wedding planner Stephanie Shaul to help bring that vision to life! Not only do I frequently admire the magical tablescapes she curates for her clients, I also love the simpler, but just as lovely, tables she sets regularly in her everyday life. Whether for at-home date nights with her husband, dinner parties with friends, or other everyday occasions, Stephanie infuses every table she sets with intentionality and heart.
What inspired your love for entertaining and table setting?
From a very young age, I loved setting the dining room table for our family holidays. My grandmother made napkins in a bevy of fabrics and my grandfather carved wooden napkin rings for each holiday, so I was dazzled as a little girl by the beautiful, festive place settings they created. That nostalgia is certainly still there!
Now as an adult, gathering with friends, family, and neighbors around the dinner table is one of those things that makes my heart sing, so my husband and I make a point to do so often. No matter how big or small your space is, no matter how elaborate or simple you keep it, no matter how well you know how to cook or not, I believe it’s so important to invite others into our homes and our lives, and to share genuine community with one another.
What are your favorite occasions to set the table for?
Anything and everything--truly! I adore setting the table for the holidays, for my articles club, for dinner parties, for double dates, for brunches with friends, for a girls night, for a celebratory date night, and even for a simple meal at home, just the two of us. I am forever dreaming up and brainstorming place settings and exactly how I want to set the table. I’m also a huge fan of using what I already have, and it’s very rare that I buy something new for a specific meal or gathering. I've collected vintage glassware, china, and dessert plates for decades, and am fortunate to have many family heirlooms and antiques passed down from both sets of grandparents. I have a very distinct sense of style and a myriad of mix and match pieces in my favorite color palette, so the possibilities are pretty endless!
Are there any table setting etiquette rules you always follow?
I’m a stickler for a proper flatware setting. I’m very quick to notice if flatware is out of order or if a knife blade is turned the wrong way!
How about any you’re quick to break?
Likely most of them? I never want a gathering to feel too perfect, as our home is a place where I want others to feel welcomed and loved. Perfection is unattainable, and a fear of being imperfect, messy, or unfinished can hold us back from life-giving relationships.
What was your favorite detail from our photo shoot table?
I truly loved it all and am so pleased with how every detail came together! But I think my absolutely favorite part was the cohesion of color: the tabletop details coordinated with the Maylis shoes so perfectly, and the flowers tied all of it together in such a gorgeous way! I just love when your eye can travel from one detail to the next and you see why each piece was chosen intentionally!
What are three key pieces everyone should have on hand to elevate their tablescapes?
1. Candles: keep tapers, pillars, and votives on hand to choose from. Soft, dreamy lighting really elevates the mood and makes a setting feel special.
2. Flowers or greenery: depending on the season, cutting fresh flowers or greenery from your yard, popping simple flowers into bud vases, or making your own arrangement using flowers from Trader Joe’s adds so much life to a table.
3. Linen napkins: start your collection with a simple pattern or favorite color that can be used in a lot of different ways, and then build a collection of linen napkin sets over the years. They really do take even a simple table to the next level.
Two of the best! Getting to sit at Steph’s table for Articles Club every other month is always a treat, and makes everyone feel so loved! :)