Designer Fran Keenan shares her clever styling stricks for a gorgeous holiday table.
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"I loved the idea of taking a piece like the popular turkey plate and mixing it with things you probably already have but wouldn't think of putting together," says Keenan. She created a laid-back look that centers around the classic Southern china closet staple Woodland Turkey by Spode (from $33.90; macys.com), sets of simple linens, pottery, and a few pieces of silver and crystal. "This setting isn't too dressy. You can seat both the kids and the adults here," she adds. "I really wanted to give people the freedom to use the pottery that so many of us collect to create a festive holiday look." Keenan chose a darker hue for her dining room walls: Noir (24-16) by Pratt & Lambert.
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Keep It Casual
The designer emphasized the turkey plates' natural elements by combining them with organic accents like wooden-handled flatware and versatile rattan chargers (for a similar look try the Artesia Honey Rattan Charger Plate $12.95; crateandbarrel.com). "I keep them on my tables year-round. My kids even use them like a Frisbee," she says. Crisp black-and-white-striped napkins and two runners laid across the width of the table under the place settings offer an unexpected modern touch. "The trick to selecting just the right stripe pattern is to choose runners with plenty of white to help tie them to the turkey plates' white background," she advises.
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Two dozen peach roses are arranged in a large brown McCartys pottery bowl. "Roses make anything feel dressier and more festive," says Keenan. "Peach is a nice warm color that works with the autumnal palette, and lighter-toned flowers show up better in a dark room." She sprinkled in a few black callas for extra drama, berries and feathers for texture, and antlers—which are a surprisingly easy addition to the fall arrangement (and available at crafts stores). "Antlers have a naturally thicker base that allows them to rest easily in the container," says Keenan. "But place them off-center so they don't steal the flower show." She repeated the look with similar arrangements on the bar and sideboard.
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Set Up a Hostess Station
"In today's world, most people serve themselves in the kitchen and bring their plates to the table," says Keenan. "You don't really need a fully stocked sideboard. Instead, I like to set up a refill station for drinks in the dining room so the host can access whatever guests need to be comfortable at the table."
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Toss the Napkin Roll
"I love to use napkin rings in unconventional ways. I also like to take as much off the table as possible," says Keenan, who tucked each set of flatware into a wooden napkin ring placed across the plate. "This set of 12 rings was $6 at a junk shop."
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Take Things Up a Notch
Keenan's entertaining must-have? Mainstays Filled White Votives (12 for $5.97; walmart.com). "These are bigger than tea lights, and each comes in its own container. Light a few of the candles, and it's an instant party," she says.