Ever since I created Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons with my ex-husband Raymond Blanc I’ve had a passion for dressing dining tables, it has become one of my favourite design elements when completing any commission. I cannot emphasise enough how important a stunning table is for creating a sense of occasion. Of course it is well known that French and Italian families gather together around the dining table, taking their time to enjoy a meal and the company – more so than the British – and with that goes the cooking and the table presentation. It comes as no surprise therefore that the most beautiful and practical table top ware is made in France and Italy, from tablecloths and mats, to china and glasses. When we opened Le Manoir I dressed tables with pink tablecloths, little individual antique silver milk jugs filled with pink tea roses, and a very pretty lamp on each table, the effect was delightful!
It is disappointing that beautiful linens, china and table-top items in my West London Showroom are rarely purchased. However, we are asked for plastic wipe clean mats, which do have their place of course. Actually, we have some fun new ones coming in soon, as well as a range of our own designs.
My passion for table top designs is now being fulfilled! With the opening of our second showroom in Barbados, I quickly recognised the demand for unusual, exotic, and simply beautiful table accessories as well as the more practical and everyday. I get so much pleasure from travelling and sourcing new and exciting items, knowing they are in such demand and appreciated for the Caribbean lifestyle. The abundance of the Caribbean’s colourful nature from tropical flowers to natural materials such as shells and coral provide a wealth of resources for table decoration. Using flowers and candles are a must of course, and flowers can be wild, from the countryside or just from your garden. They don’t have to be costly.
My Design Director, Sue Thomas-Richardson has just come back from a trip to Barbados working in our showroom and on design projects. During her visit she went for lunch with a friend, John Chandler, at Lancaster Great House for one of their famous Bajan Buffets – you may have seen the blog about the launch of John’s fabulous book, Hotel Barbados, at Lancaster Great House in November. The magnificent table setting above has inspired me to write my blog this week on the many unique, fantastic ways that table settings in the Caribbean can totally bring a room to life and create a memorable special occasion. The Dining Room at colonial style Lancaster Great House was transformed into a vivid cornucopia of luscious tropical flowers in contrasting pinks and purples, making the brunch a truly splendid event.
This sophisticated Caribbean dining table uses the natural greens of tropical plants, as well as a fabric embossed with velvet flowers. The two large hurricanes on bold, iron stands are fantastic centrepieces, decorated with shells and coral, which is picked up in the napkin rings. Special glassware – the featured glasses engraved with palm trees, matching the tropical surroundings – is a very easy way of making a meal special (available in our Showrooms).
The delicate red and yellow flowers in this centrepiece set off the green and orange table scheme and compliment the chargers, hand-painted with tropical fruits and leaves. Like the coral napkin rings above, these beaded, leaf napkin rings, add a subtle touch of frivolity and sparkle to the table. Due to the tropical climate it is very important to use resilient fabrics in the Caribbean. This gorgeous fabric by Perennials called Vintage Stripe in Mandarin is just right. ‘Perennial’ means persistent and enduring and this fabric can be used indoors and outdoors, so is just right for enhancing a Caribbean dining table. The green placemats (used above and below) also look so sophisticated with silver:
The subtle tones of the chairs covered in fabric embroidered with a pineapple, are complimented by the stunning Hillaby dining table by Jenny Blanc (made to order). The wreath of flowers, as a simple centrepiece, totally lifts the finish of the setting, picking out the pink embroidery in the napkins and the pink shells on the napkin rings.
Lighting is so important for creating a romantic ambience. Hurricanes always look fabulous on a tropical table and, paired with the flower arrangement, this trio creates a gentle glow over evening dining.
In this light and elegant outdoor terrace, the white and aqua scheme is mirrored in the chargers and bowls on the table. We used Coral Bay Pool by Kravet on the cushions, in a contemporary twist on a classic coral print. The white flowers surrounding a large candle on the table mirror the stunning floral chandelier. The table setting, with chargers and bowls in a sea-life design, completes the sophistication of this wonderful outdoor dining experience.