Monday, June 4, 2012

How to Set the Perfect Brooklyn Table

Posted By on Mon, Jun 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Dressing a table is like putting together a great wardrobe. Too much mismatched vintage china is about as charming as a closet full of ill-fitting thrift shop cocktail dresses. On the other end of the spectrum, using traditional, patterned 5-piece place settings can look as matchy-matchy as outfit in which one's pumps match one's purse, which matches the belt around one's mom jeans, as the case may be.

Thankfully, Dumbo's own McGarvey Robinson Design leads us to the middle ground, where stand-out contemporary pieces and harmoniously paired tableware leave those matchy (or completely mismatched) patterns in the cupboard. The local design duo, Mary Catherine McGarvey and Anna Robinson, start with classic, workhorse pieces and add personal style through earthy textures, crisp minimalism, and a bit of metallic bling. The result is elegant and effortlessly chic -- the perfect setting for a springtime dinner party.

The designers ground each table setting with a handmade Acadia wood dinner plate that's 11½ inches in diameter ($22 per plate from Brook Farm General Store in Williamsburg). The vintage-looking blue floral pattern on the French country napkins builds on the natural look of the plates ($9.50 per napkin from Atmosphere at 333 Smith Street in Carroll Gardens).

Fresh greens will surely stand out on these white 8½-inch salad plates from West Elm's ceramic Terrain dinnerware line. They're priced at a budget-friendly $6 per plate, while the timeless and luxurious pewter flatware by Match is more of an investment. (Flatware sold at Collier West in Boerum Hill, call to verify price).

Delicate Morrocan tea glasses make elegant wine and water vessels, and they give each table setting a little sparkle. ($10 per tall, gold Moroccan tea glass and $7 per short silver glass, both from Feliz in Fort Greene.)

When the McGarvey Robinson team designed this tablescape, they opted not to put a bird on it – and they didn't use an antlered deer or any other played-out forest creature, either. Still, the table gets a little home-on-the-range personality from these fantastic buffalo salt and pepper shakers ($100 for set, from Collier West [] in Boerum Hill).

With loose greenery, artfully offset twigs and pops of pale pink, this rambling flower arrangement gives the table a natural and rustic look. This centerpiece cost $150 at Emily Thompson Flowers in Dumbo but prices vary depending on the size of the arrangement.

Resist the urge to clutter the table, but check your cupboards for useful accessories. This classic candlestick wasn't purchased for the shoot – it was found in the kitchen cabinet of McGarvey Robinson's own Mary Catherine McGarvey.

At any dinner party, it's important to have something for your guests to nosh on while you put the finishing touches on the meal. This wooden cheeseboard ($29 from Atmosphere, 333 Smith Street, Carroll Gardens) and set of three cheese knives ($55, also from Atmosphere) make a fine display for some cheese from Stinky Bklyn. For the perfect wine pairing, head down Smith Street to Stinky's sister shop, Smith & Vine [].

There's no need for fussy napkin rings, but a little bit of twine to tie up each cloth napkin keeps in tune with the homespun look of the table and adds a fine finishing touch.

To keep the look casual, the McGarvey-Robinson gals forego a full tablecloth in favor of the Napoli table runner in flax. It softens the wooden tabletop with a layer of linen (from Greenhouse, Boerum Hill, $62). Still, the whole set-up leaves us with one burning question: what's for dinner?

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Kara Zuaro

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