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Fresh tablescapes
Natural materials, daily dishes and French linens are just some of the trends for the holiday season



The cooler months reveal a trend away from the more traditional colors and styles in tableware. Dishes and linens imported from Europe are just the thing to dress up your table for the holidays. The sparkle and warmth are still there, but the colors and the fabrics are new and exciting, Milwaukee area design professionals say.

"One of the biggest trends we have seen is the European influence," according to Jane Ciabotti of Splendor in Delafield. "We have four different lines of French table linens, including tone-on-tone damask and jacquard on a nubbier, heavier linen," she says.

Some table linens are showing up dressed for the holidays with touches of velvet, says Dana Golubeff, display manager for George Watts & Son in Milwaukee. "Instead of green and red, we are seeing a lot of silver and gold for the holidays. Luxurious chocolate brown linens are very hot, while the black and white that we saw last year is also coming back for fall." And, good news, they are easy to care for, while making your table look chic and stylish.

Embroidered table runners, tablecloths, napkins, pot holders and aprons are another option for the holidays, perfect for French Country decorating. "You can get them with a polished finish that repels water," Ciabotti says.

Dana Golubeff of George Watts & Son says colored vases, like these from Salviati, are popular this season. Photos courtesy of Salviati.


Authentic Polish Stoneware makes a beautiful addition to your holiday table, says Ciabotti. This fine quality tableware has a beautiful hand finish, whether it is in place settings or serving pieces. "There are dozens of patterns and the colors are beautiful. The traditional colors are blue and white with splashes of yellow and red," she notes. And, donít be afraid to use it. Its beauty and original style is surpassed only by its practicality.

Also this season, itís back to the smoky gray glassware we saw some years ago, according to designers. "The new crystal we are seeing is in some great smoky tones. Itís heavier and chunkier than in the past, too," Golubeff says. If you like, you can mix it with your clear crystal or glassware for an interesting effect."

Brightly colored vases and decorative glass pieces will be seen in all the best places in the coming months. Whether you use them to hold fresh or dried flowers or as a beautiful centerpiece on your dining table, there are a multitude of interesting shapes and colors to entertain the eye, says Golubeff. The organic designs and contemporary forms look amazing next to vintage pieces.

"We are buying tableware in some of the typical fall colors ó reds, golds, greens ó all very warm colors, but they are in more interesting textures and fabrics. We are selling heavier linen and more wool products. Some of the fabrics are from India and some are from Western Europe. All of them are machine washable," says Ashley Rice, manager of Past Basket in Fox Point.

Tabletops are going natural, too. "We are doing a very natural theme for Christmas with birch candles, pine cone candles, twigs and natural white lights. We want to make it a little different this year," Rice says.

"With dishes, the main trend is that everyone wants something that they can actually use on a daily basis. They want something that can go into the dishwasher and microwave, but they still want something that holds up and looks good," Rice notes.

Instead of saving your "good" dishes for dinner parties, make use of them, Rice says. "Why buy dishes that you can only use on special occasions? We want to use them every day," she says. "Juliska dinnerware made by Czech artisans is very elegant, but it is resistant to chipping and breaking and it can go from the freezer to the oven."

Many customers are selecting plain basic dishes and dressing them up with linens, Rice says. "White or off-white dishes are by far the colors in demand."

Neutral colors are also the backdrop to some fairly bold patterns on table linens and dishes, Golubeff notes. "We have seen stripes, dots, plaids and even paisley on dishes. We also have been seeing a lot of black and white patterns. In some cases, there are several different patterns in one set," she says.