Decorating Class with Pottery Barn

by Cate on March 15, 2009

Pottery Barn Decorating ClassI’ve been taking Pottery Barn‘s monthly decorating classes lately, and had another one today.  The price is right (free!) and I always come away with useful information that I can put into practice right away.  Today’s topic was table settings for brunch and ideas for celebrating the upcoming Easter/Passover holiday with family and friends.

I love entertaining, whether it be casual or formal, but when it comes to the actual table setting, I am terrible at it.  I have been a child of Pottery Barn for many, many years, and saved their catalogs just to get a feel for how they set their tables so beautifully.  In recent years, they have published decorating books, which are a great way to learn how they do it all.  Once I found out today’s topic was going to cover my Achilles heel, I was in.

Here are a few of the notes that I took:

  • They suggested using table runners instead of tablecloths when setting your table.  They said that it’s a great way to show off the beauty of your table, be it an antique, something handed down through your family or a new purchase, and it’s an inexpensive way to completely change the look of the table settings for the holidays, the different seasons or just because.
  • Speaking of table runners, they also suggested using them across the width of your table, instead of just thinking of them in the traditional way down the center length. By using them across the width of the table, they also become placemat-like as well, because if you put them along the width, going from chair to chair, they’ll be right under the placesettings.
  • They love chargers and said it’s an easy way to build up your theme from a solid foundation.  For a casual luncheon or brunch, they suggested wicker chargers.  I loved them, and was sorely tempted but at $16 a pop, I restrained myself.  For a more formal dinner, they opted for these silver ones with a Mother of Pearl rim.  (They’re way shinier in person, by the way)
  • They suggested using a core white dinner plate for the base of everything.  (They used this set in today’s class) It’s simple and classic.  Then, to personalize the table for the particular event, they said to use a patterned plate (a layering plate as they called it) for the smaller one set on top of your white plate (see above photo).  I loved this idea, and to me, this was worth the class attendance alone.  I must have four different sets of plates, but two years ago, I switched to using a bright white dinner plate instead.  I found it easier to match with all my table linens and accessories, and I love the idea of using a smaller, patterned layering plate on top of it to change up the white quickly, easily and inexpensively.   Genius.

A few of the other accessories they used to decorate the Easter table for the class include these ceramic bunnies (which are a great size to make a nice centerpiece), these pastel egg-shaped plates and this egg-decorated table runner.  In the center of the table, they had this white pitcher filled with pink cherry blossoms.  On the branches of a few of the cherry blossoms, they hung some of these sparkly eggs.  I think it’s good to use their ideas as a jumping off point.  For example, I love the massive white pitcher filled with blossoms in the center of the table, but no way am I going to spend $99 for the pitcher.  And as much as I love the cherry blossoms in the pitcher, they are crazy with the $64 price tag per branch (per branch!!).  I will, however, be on the lookout for something similar during my garage sale travels this Spring/Summer, or perhaps at the Brimfield Antique Show, which is coming up in May.  Stores like HomeGoods and TJ Maxx are great places to mine to pick up pieces for table settings and accessorizing as well.  For me, I like to purchase a few things from Pottery Barn, and use their ideas and mix and match with items I’ve found elsewhere (and even repurposing something I have already at home).  Also, be sure to keep an eye on Pottery Barn’s clearance sections (both online and in the store) – I have stumbled on some fantastic deals that way.

For even more decorating ideas, particularly beyond just table settings, you may want to bookmark this Style House section of Pottery Barn’s website.  They have wonderful tutorials on how to do everything from arrange your photos and throw a cocktail party to choosing paint color and linens and designing your space.  I could easily get lost there.

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{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Claire March 15, 2009 at 10:26 pm

$64 for a fake BRANCH?!! That is crazy. Looks like a fun class! I’ve decided that white is definitely the best for photography…just so crisp and shows off the color of the foods. I love, however, those egg plates, so cute!

Claires last blog post..First Omlete


Andrea March 16, 2009 at 3:14 pm

It’s fun to see you writing on this topic. I love decorating with thrift store finds and interesting objects used in new ways. Thanks for sharing your own discoveries.

Andreas last blog post..Food Matters: A Guide to Conscious Eating by Mark Bittman. A Rookie Review
PS: Forgot to say great post!


The Neighbor (Wife) March 17, 2009 at 8:56 am

Now this is interesting to me. (since I don’t cook) I love it! Sounds fun.


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