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Tablescape Thursday with Barbara Barry

By 09/24/2009January 27th, 201730 Comments

This tablescape is actually one she did for House Beautiful for their April 2008 issue. (I ONLY discard design magazines when they are over 10 years old, so I have quite the collection of them, piles everywhere, strategically placed in my living room).
Anyway, I love anything Barbara Barry so when I saw this in the magazine, I thought it would make a great post to join the party at Between Naps on the Porch; and in my favourite colours too!

The dinnerware and stemware are from the Wedgwood Radiance Collection. Curtain call flatware. Napkin ring and place mat, Golden Goose, Mendocino, CA.

Barbara’s tips for tablescapes:
“Think of the table as a blank canvas where you express your personal style. Don’t set it the same way twice”.
“Break the rules! I set the knife in the fork, or put all the flatware on the right side. I find it limiting the way it’s traditionally set.”
“I say flowers should be arranged in five minutes. . . cut, plop, tweak, done. I like them low and I like them fresh”.

A tip I heard once about determining how high the centerpiece should be is “rest your elbow on the table and your arrangement shouldn’t be any higher than the top of your wrist”, that’s how you know. Otherwise people can’t see each other across the table!

Related posts:
Barbara Barry’s Philosophy
How to Create a Tablescape

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  • D says:

    I've never heard of Barbara Barry.
    But thanks for posting this. Those are great tips, especially the one about the centerpiece height. I always wondered.


  • eeppurple&blue says:

    hi maria.. the tablescape is gorgeous.. as always.. and the tips are a real help.. i agree with her completly in breaking the tradition.. it just makes the whole process a whole lot fun.. n the centerpiece tip is useful as well

  • Heather @ what's blooming this week says:

    Love anything Barbara Berry touches. This table is lovely.

  • Laura Trevey says:

    I love the Wedgewood dinnerware!!
    Gorgeous display ~~

    xo Laura

  • Velvet and Linen says:

    This is beautiful Maria. A perfect fall tablescape.


  • Design Esquire says:

    Great post! I love all the tips, and the image is just beautiful.

  • susan says:

    Maria–I have trouble getting rid of my favorite magazines also! I seem to always find something I have missed the first (or second) time 🙂 This is lovely, but the centerpiece rule might prove difficult for me sometimes. I think if you make it "airy" enough you can exceed that heighth–besides some rules are for breaking 🙂

  • Annie@A View On Design says:

    hi maria, I really like this post, I love her comment "cut, plop" etc… how funny… she is so right too!

  • Mid-Atlantic Martha says:

    Very pretty – thanks for the share and I too love to set the table different!

  • My Notting Hill says:

    Very pretty setting. You may have heard – Barbara Barry will be on the Washington Post's online discussion today at 11 am ET. Unfortunately I have to go the dentist!

  • Lauren says:

    beautiful!!! I love these tips too!! (Especially the fork-in-knife!) Of course I learned something here!!!! 🙂


  • DesignTies says:

    Pretty 🙂 I really like Barbara's tip to arrange the cutlery in unexpected ways. There are certain elements you have to use when you set the table, so you need to find other ways to get creative 🙂

    Hope your king size headboard fits up the stairs!!


  • Awesome Sara says:

    i put a tablescape for my brazilian for his bday romantic dinner extraveganza n i thought it looked really pretty till i saw this trick's tablescape n yea no mine dont compare!

  • Cass @ That Old House says:

    Lovely table … and i do like the advice about the height of the flowers; I hate great tall arrangements on a dinner table –put them on the buffet instead! 🙂
    GORGEOUS china….

  • Sarah says:

    Yes, this is a lovely table. I too like BB. Thanks for sharing. ~ Sarah

  • Hill Country House Girl says:

    Beautiful post, Maria. Now I know we can find a pretty table and join in the fun without having to take the time to set our own tables – thanks for the tip!!

  • Emily says:

    The tabletops in House Beautiful are always one of my favorites to read about every month!

    I have the same sickness with magazines and they are piling up. good think I am organized!

    Love your blog…I really have learned so much about color!

  • Tracy @ Comfort and Luxury says:

    What a beautiful, warm arrangement. And thanks for the tip about how to measure a floral centerpiece. So easy and I'd never heard it before. Thanks Maria!

  • Mary says:

    What a warm and inviting table. I really liked the tip about the height of flower arrangements and the tablescape was, of course, beautiful. I know you won't lack for reading material when the cold winds of November start to blow :-). I hope you are having a wonderful day.

  • Deanna says:


    I love those old magazines as well.
    Such fun and relaxing to look at them.

    Autumn blessings,
    d from homehaven

  • Chic Coles (Cole Design) says:

    great advise for the center piece.

  • Ms. Bake-it says:

    Hello Marie,

    Thank you for sharing the tablescape and Barbara Barry's philosophy on setting a table. I love her quote on flower arrangements!

    ~ Tracy

  • Fifi Flowers says:

    LOVELY setting!!! I would love to dine in that spot!

  • Blondie's Journal says:


    I love this tablescape, good choice choosing Barbara Barry. Always a fan of Wedgwood, this pattern is stunning!

    I love Barbara's tips. I totally agree with her flower arranging truism's and believe flowers should be cut low. There is always room along the edges of the room for skyscrapers! lol!!

    Thanks so much Maria!!


  • Julie says:

    Great post! I love the tips…

  • A Gift Wrapped Life says:

    I am in the midst of recycling approx. 200 design magazines, they get so dusty! Designers keep everything so inspiration is always close by, but this designer has to get more organized. Great tip on the wrist and centerpiece height.

  • Happy To Be/ Gl♥ria says:

    I never heard of Barbar Barry…just loved your tip on the centerpiece…thanks for sharing…may you have a great weekend my friend…hugs and smiles Gl♥ria

  • Between you, me and the Fencepost says:

    Break the rules. I don't even know the rules in the first place. What I need is the rule book. I always spend do much time trying to make my flowers look nice nd they still look dorky. Thank to Babs I'm going to start dumping and tweaking.

  • Ideezine says:


    Timely post as we are all getting ready to celebrate the holidays. Now is the time to decide on themes and getting things (checking our inventories) to decorate with for the holidays.


  • Sedona @ MyDivineDelights says:

    Gorgeous tablescape and great tips! I like nontraditional settings as well! 🙂

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