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Setting the table as well as the mood
By Kathleen Ostrander

Dinnerware can set the tone for a meal as much as the food or the room décor.

Trends for the fall include bold graphics and animal prints. Table settings may have metallic accents in the form of candleholders or napkin rings, but the emphasis is still on earth tones.

Purple is big again and dinnerware as well as glassware is awash in textures from ripples to crackle finishes. Matched settings are nice, but layering different textures, colors and plate shapes can really make for a distinctive and interesting tablescape.

Earthenware plates have either a different texture to make them more contemporary or they have bold asymmetrical stripes or shapes to change their looks. Layering different colors of the same pattern or mixing gloss and matte finishes can give another look to a tablescape.

Aimee Beatty, stylist for Pier 1 Imports, said dinnerware for fall is "back to beautiful."

"There are some really warm tones to the lines that lend versatility because you can mix and match as well as change the look with linens or accent pieces," she said.

"We're seeing animal's prints, some really nice dinnerware along with glassware that has a lovely, elegant purple crackle finish to it," Beatty added.

She said crackle finish dishes look particularly nice when accented by candles around the table.

"You can mix and match the earth tones and then really give the whole table a pop of color by using some pieces that are lime," she said.

Catherine Gentile, public relations manager for Bed Bath & Beyond, said customers should look to new patterns and colors with the idea of what they like - not necessarily what they think is trendy.

"They should pick a pattern because it makes them happy, catches their eye and holds it and excites them to create a tablescape around it," she said.

Gentile said the store has a number of dinnerware lines with "wave" shapes as well as other varied shapes and those pieces can be mixed and matched to liven up a tablescape.

She also suggested mixing stoneware as well as porcelain with different finishes to dress up and personalize a table.

Several of the designs in the new lines for fall have sophisticated borders patterns, including leaves and floral accents, that can be used to add a different feel to the table setting, Gentile said.

Dinnerware pieces that are clear or wood can also add a different look as can matching pieces with precise lines with dishes that have softer edges.

Metallic finished larger pieces can be used as accents or used to hold centerpiece materials.

"Because of the economy, a lot of the lines are adding accent pieces for the fall. People can add serving dishes or larger pieces and dress up the dinnerware they have now," said Carla Rathmann, tabletop and decorative housewares buyer for BonTon Stores Inc. She said accent plates done in reactive glazes are great to use to give a different look to dinnerware sets.

BonTon Stores, which include Bergner's, are stocking accent pieces in the reactive glaze - a glaze that coats a piece in the same color but looks different depending on the light, to complement the basic white lines as well as the earthenware lines.

Couples who may have white dishes can build on that same set but still have something that looks more modern, Rathmann said.

"It is appealing to the homeowner to be able to continue using a line they like but be able to change the looks on different occasions with different pieces," she said.

"Square is a really strong shape, but there are also transitional pieces that are square but the corners are soft and rounded. They look great layered with the square dishes," Rathmann said.

Larger white plates a homeowner might have, she said, can remain a mainstay, but brightly colored smaller plates in the newer colors can become accents that change the whole look of a table.

She said turquoise and purple are big colors this fall.

"In reactive glazes, with the differences in tones, they actually blend quite well with each other and with browns and earth tones," she said.

Story published Friday, September 3, 2010 ( Volume 5, Number 5 )

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