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Spring Has Sprung

A few weeks ago, we were delighted to have the talented Courtney Whitmore (@pizzazzerie) visit our store. Her keen eye for design immediately caught our attention, inspiring us to invite her to collaborate on a guest tablescape for The Boutique. To learn more about their creative process, we sat down with Courtney and Lois for an insightful Q&A session.


Q: What is the first thing you do or decide when starting to put a table together?

Lois: Theme and color story. Also formality, though I almost always choose formal. Also, many times it will depend on what looks healthiest and happiest in the florist’s cooler, and I can take my cue from the flowers and greenery.

Courtney: The first thing I do when starting to put together a table is always think of the table covering. It’s basically the canvas base for any tablescape. Sometimes I love a block print with a fun pattern and other times, I love to keep things simple with a classic white linen. After tablecloths or runners, it’s always plates. I could visit the plate wall at The Boutique every day and be happy! Plates are my “happy place”! 

Q: What inspires your themes or concepts?

Lois: Holidays provide easy inspiration. However, if it’s just for a dinner party at home, I look through my beautiful selections, explore what vibe I’m feeling, and begin creating! For the shop, I like to feature patterns that may be new, or brands that are new to us. It’s also fun to combine patterns that in the past I didn’t think married well together. I think an eclectic collection can be much more interesting than everything being the same.

Courtney: I’m always inspired by older photos of my mother’s garden tablescapes from when I was a child. She and her friends were always hosting gorgeous soirees complete with hats on and the most beautiful floral centerpieces. I’d like to return to the traditional style of entertaining. I will say I’m also inspired by places I visit and gorgeous interior design elements too. You can find inspiration just about anywhere if you’re looking! 

Q: How do you choose the color pallet for your table?

Lois: While my mother, (and now I)  had several sets of blue and white porcelain, her style was much different from mine. My go-to color, is my  favorite color, green! There are so many botanical patterns that feature leaves, flowers and nature. Any time I entertain with green, it feels fresh and clean, like a new Spring day. Gold and white is also always a classic palette, which can easily carry you through fall and holiday.

Courtney: Color choices are my favorite! I usually try to stick to two to guide me to give the table design a bit of cohesiveness. Oftentimes I pull out these two colors from a tablecloth or I’ll see what florals I can find and build out the color pallet that way. 

Q: What tips do you have for creating a cohesive and visually appealing table setting?

Lois: Just like in the store, I like to group things by color. Even if they don’t seem to go together, they really will once you have them compiled. Remove the obvious outliers, but play with the color and you may find some interesting combinations.

Courtney: Stick to two main colors to have a cohesive look to your table. If you have a busy pattern on the tablecloth and place settings, opt for simple white florals and white taper candles to keep it simple. Or if your settings are simple, jazz things up with a wow-factor floral arrangement with lots of festive colors and festive taper candles. I also recommend balancing heights and sizes of vases and candles to give your table visual interest. 

Q: How do you balance practicality with aesthetics when setting up a tablescape?

Lois: Why would anyone be practical when setting a table? I’m half kidding, but for me, it’s mostly about the aesthetics. If the place settings, flowers/decor, linens all look elegant, the food becomes secondary. (I know all of the foodies are rolling their eyes, lol).

Courtney: While I love a gorgeous floral arrangement, I try to stick to lower arrangements that are more practical for guests to enjoy each other’s company across a table. And on a different practicality note, don’t be afraid to grab simple florals from Trader Joe’s, add a few clippings from your garden and save your budget for a really special tablecloth or new glassware. You don’t have to spend a fortune to set a beautiful table! 

Q: Do you have any favorite entertaining traditions or rituals that you like to incorporate into your table settings?

Lois: I do have a couple of favorite containers that I like to use for my centerpieces. One is an old William Yeoward bowl vase. It is low, and lovely, and the crystal makes any arrangement look so special. I also have a sterling silver wine chiller, that I never use for chilling wine. I frequently repurpose it as a container which helps any arrangement look so lovely. It also holds, (and hides) oasis nicely, and is a wonderful oval shape, so the elongated arrangement looks lovely on my oval dining table.

Courtney: Absolutely! I love entertaining traditions and my mother always taught me to add something personal to each place setting. For example, when hosting bridal or baby showers, ask each guest for a baby photo, framed in a small frame at each seat. Everyone loves getting to see everyone’s sweet baby pics. I love to frame a picture of each family member with his or her mom for Mother’s Day. These make lovely favors too. 

Q: What is the best piece of advice you have been given about entertaining or decor?

Lois: This advice wasn’t really given to me, I learned it from my grandmother. USE YOUR GOOD STUFF! We say it all the time in the shop. We have many visitors come in and share that they have this pattern, and that pattern, but that it lives only in their china cabinet, and they never use it. How sad. I encourage everyone to enjoy their special pieces by feeling it, touching it, serving it to your family and friends. It will elevate ANY food or beverage that is being served. And if something breaks, it is not the end of the world. It can be replaced, or you’ll remember it fondly by having used it, and not just leaving it lonely in its cupboard.

Courtney: “Be like a duck: calm on the surface, but paddling like crazy underneath” so I will work very hard to have as much prepared as possible so I can relax right before guests arrive and enjoy a wonderful party. 

Q: How has your style evolved over time?

Lois: I would say I’ve become a little riskier over time. To my earlier point, rather than lean toward safer, heavier pieces, I’m no longer afraid to choose something delicate, whether it is delicate stemware, or huge crystal hurricanes for the table or sideboard. I’m also braver with mixing up patterns. Working and entertaining with breakables has given me the perspective that it really is just stuff. As long as our loved ones are held closely, and with esteem, then a broken piece of porcelain or crystal, is really not something to get upset about.

Courtney: My style has definitely evolved over the years. I’m more drawn to classic patterns and settings than I was in my 20s. I think I could say I’m definitely in my grandmillenial era, enjoying traditional table settings and timeless style.