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Contemporary Tablescapes

Ever wonder how authentic Italian fine dining restaurants always seem to create the perfect centerpiece? Here are a few tricks of the trade you can practice at home.

Fruits, Vegetables & Flowers:

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  • For a year-round organic centerpiece, arrange citrus fruits in one or several decorative bowls in the middle of your table. Creating a singular display of only lemons, limes or oranges on a pedestal-like stand adds colorful drama.
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  • Pending the size of your table, grab two or three square or rectangular vases and stand asparagus bunches straight, packing stalks tight into containers that have about a half-inch of water at the bottom. Tie with raffia or a bow for an unusual green focus. (The same can be done with singular bunches of strong-stemmed flowers like Gerber daisies, roses or tulips.)
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  • With a little extra planning, fast-growing wheatgrass can make a lush centerpiece in a week to two weeks. Just soak seeds for 12 hours, drain and plant in your vessel of choice. As suggested above, tie with raffia or ribbon for a polished look.
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  • Expensive bouquets and full-bloom flowers don’t have to take center stage on your table, especially if your backyard is filled with evergreens or seasonal landscaping like forsythia and pussy willows. With sharp scissors or shears, trim long, low-hanging branches off trees (in bloom or not) and set in a few tall vases around your dining area. Bringing the outside-in will give your dining room backyard appeal ... even if it’s raining.

Inspiration From Your Home:

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  • Since collections usually look best when kept together, select an odd number of an artful object in your home -- mismatched Champagne flutes, bowls of collected shells -- and arrange the grouping in the middle of the table or intersperse among a few other choice collectibles. Candles among them add sparkle; placing them on a charger, placemat or artfully set piece of material creates cohesion.
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  • Restaurants use mirrors and candles to create face-glowing light that does double duty by also making food look pretty. At home, repurpose a mirror you might have hanging on a wall by laying it the center of your table, and place clear or same-color votive holders with tea lights on top. Up the ante with a larger candle in the middle, or for the sake of simplicity, leave the display low so you can see everyone at your table.

Tip:

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  • When in doubt, let the season be your guide. You’ll always impress guests with fresh flowers in spring, shells in summer, harvest vegetables or leaves in fall and warm candlelight in winter.