Julie Khuu, an interior designer from Santa Ana, Calif., joined the cast of HGTV Design Star for season five. This dining room is one of the designs that landed her a spot on the show. Black leather chairs, dark wood floors and a dark wood table with elegant place settings create a striking look in this creamy modern dining room.
Setting up food and drink stations allows guests to serve themselves, reducing your workload as a host. Portable foldout tables set against the wall and covered with fabric look elegant and are sturdy enough to hold the weight of glass containers food and beverages. For the beverage station, provide a bottle of your favorite sparkling wine along with pitchers of juice for mixing.
Plaid and gingham and polka dots, oh my! Aniko Levai of Place of My Taste cleverly mixed fabric scraps and inexpensive wrapping paper to create this fun and festive table decor. Leftover fabric covers the tablescape’s conical “trees,” dots the pinecone-and-greenery centerpiece, ties cardboard reindeers around vintage glass bottles and finishes off the place settings.
Ocean-hued chairs create a colorful focal point in this otherwise neutral breakfast room. The traditional home features a wide-open great room with a kitchen that flows into the dining room, entry and sunroom and deck beyond. A round table and rug allow for easy access and traffic flow through the space. Shell and bamboo accents tie the space to its coastal setting.
This dining room is completely multi-functional. A custom-designed table with a starburst center is perfect for poker night or for a formal dining setting. Four plasma screens make it easy for viewing a single or multitude of television shows. The columns sparkle in a covering of Balinese seashells. Grasscloth wallpaper covers the ceiling and adds a hint of metallic shine while a crystal chandelier drops elegantly from the mirrored ceiling.
Outdoor dining is typically a casual affair—but it doesn’t have to be. Surprise and delight your guests by setting an outdoor table with all the hallmarks of an indoor dinner party: masses of candlesticks, beautiful florals, and your favorite crystal. Encourage lingering over after-dinner coffee by adding soft cushions to the seats, and providing throws for added warmth on chilly evenings.
In this distinct kitchen design by Susan Serra, the brushed metal table and glass countertops are counterbalanced by the warmth of wood cabinets, hardwood floors and distinct color accents. The gorgeous hand-blown cobalt blue pendants, with natural imperfections, are scene stealers and add artisan appeal to a contemporary setting. "Natural materials in lighting fixtures such as reclaimed wood and distressed metals also add that authentic element we crave," says Serra. "Imperfections are desired and coveted...in context, of course!"
When you’re lucky enough to live in a beautiful setting and have outdoor dining areas to enjoy, there’s no reason to keep your entertaining indoors. A wintery outdoor dinner party can be a truly magical experience for guests, so take care to set a table that plays up the special surroundings, complete with candlelight, flowers, a show-stopping centerpiece, and, of course, all the chilled bubbly.
Even on a tiny terrace, designer Elizabeth S. Vaughan takes care to add luxurious amenities. “When we finish setting up a terrace, we love to drape a towel and provide a pillow on the cushioned chaise lounges for comfort. Small tables provide a convenient place for drinks or books,” she says. And, don’t forget to add a bright spot: “Colorful plants in boxes are a must to bring in a pop of color,” she says.
Designer Ashley DeLapp created this vibrant space with the whole family in mind. By pairing layered geometric patterns with vibrant pops of color, designer she was able to create the ideal midcentury-modern dining room setting. The round table is flanked by chairs decorated in a yellow geometric pattern, while the gray trellis wallpaper provides a striking contrast to the otherwise bright color choices. The room's credenza not only allows for storing extra items, but serves as a furniture accent piece. Geometric lamps decorate the top of the piece, along with beautiful floral arrangements.
For a project that called for a sleek luxurious look — on a tight budget — designer Shirley Meisels shopped carefully. “You can create a great look without going custom,” says the designer, who turned to major retailers and online sources, choosing a bed, table, and linens from West Elm, a rug from Dwell Studio, and a lamp from Restoration Hardware. Of course, designer know-how is what pulls it all together: “To create warmth in such a spare and simple setting it’s important to add texture. That’s where the fur rug and fur cushion come into play.”
Los Cabos is home to a number of farms that incorporate cooking lessons, restaurants and other activities into their programs. Flora Farms is one, but locals say the program at Los Tamarindos feels more authentically Mexican. With advance reservations guests can enjoy a cooking class at a long communal table where they work with local produce to create unique recipes. A dinner or lunch follows, featuring some of those recipes. The farm also hosts weddings and farm dinners and dining options if you want to just stop by for a meal in a gorgeous setting.
When you swap out holiday plates for items you use in your home throughout the year, look for new ways to display old pieces. Karin Jeffcoat of Cote Designs in South Carolina used vintage milk glass for this tablescape, including setting one bowl on top of a cake plate. The dishes already have a wintery white look. She filled them with paperwhite bulbs that complement the pinecones on the table, knowing they will bring even more warmth to the interiors when they bloom. “I love the texture of the bulb itself,” she adds.
Ginnie Leeming of Hello Little Home found creative, money-saving ways to create her layered neutral decor. That tablecloth? An inexpensive drop cloth cut to fit her table. Those texture-rich placemats? “The placemats were created from a large piece of burlap that was intended for gardening. I cut out rectangles, then pulled strands of burlap off the edges to form a simple fringe,” Leeming says. A golden-wrapped box topped with a buffalo-plaid ribbon adds a bright pop at each place setting.
Although this open-plan kitchen and dining area actually is in a loft — in a converted bag factory in Nashville — the principles designer Jason Arnold followed will work in any setting. He says: “The kitchen is opposite the living area, in a large, open space that automatically lends itself to entertaining and family living. We painted the walls, trim, and cabinets the same soft grey to make the spaces feel as one. Because it is essentially a large room with a kitchen at one end, I wanted the kitchen to blend seamlessly into the space which is why there are no upper cabinets and instead, there is a large pantry armoire to the right. The dining table acts as the visual separation from kitchen to living.”
Farm-to-table food in a lush, garden setting, this Todos Santos restaurant feels like eating in the garden of Eden with the beautiful landscape laid out before you. A wood-grilled oven means you can enjoy sea-meets-sand chocolate clams grilled in butter and green chili or wood-grilled oysters. Pastas and pizzas as well as grilled tacos, grilled octopus and chili relleno campirano play the field between familiar comfort food and local delicacies. There is an on-site shop to pick up some locally-made foodie items. The only downside of a lovely meal and location is a staff that seems slightly mystified by a woman dining alone, a strange reaction considering the cool, international hippie vibe.
An hour north of Los Cabos, the artsy, under-the-radar (for now) town of Todos Santos is a hub of art, creativity, surfing and culture including a Hotel California name-checked in an Eagles song that draws tourists like flies to honey, plenty of galleries and a gorgeous 18th century church. Home to Texas hotelier Liz Lambert's Instagram-hip Hotel San Cristobal, one of the more under-the-radar local treasures is the indie art gallery La Sonrisa de la Muerte, filled with original — and affordable — contemporary prints from Mexican and South American artists. There are also cool T-shirts with Mexico-inspired graphics that make great souvenirs. The paradisiacal farm to table restaurant Jazamango close to downtown is a chance to linger over sustainably-sourced food in a gorgeous setting.
The Serenbe community features an 8-acre organic farm (staffed by a comely group of earthy millennial farmers) and the local restaurants highlight the fruits of that labor. The homespun, casual Blue-Eyed Daisy does a great job in a relatively small space with delicious seasonal Southern fare. Stop by for a coffee, breakfast or lunch, or the Taco Nights and Meat & 3 dinners scheduled each week that draw local residents. A bit more upscale, The Hill is a white-tablecloth variation on that farm-to-table theme sourcing proteins and produce locally and serving lunch and dinner in a farmhouse chic, unpretentious setting. But you don't have to eat at one of those spots (though you absolutely should); there is also produce galore from April through November at the Serenbe Farmers and Artisan Market where you can watch a chef demo or listen to live music or just pick up some artisanal goodie as a souvenir of your trip to the gorgeous Georgia countryside.