Special Nonexistent Furniture

by Ty Kuppig

Ty Kuppig is the principal of Tyger Productions, a creative special events firm. Kuppig's background in architecture and design has influenced his unique approach to the special events industry. His attention to detail, understanding of spatial planning, and love of interior design allow Ty to create unparalleled event experiences. With offices in New York and Boston, Kuppig and his team work with Fortune 500 clients across the country as well as individuals and families.

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  • Photo: Scott Watt Photography
  • We asked event designer Ty Kuppig, of Tyger Productions, to share some of his best tabletop decorating ideas. Read below for his professional tips on everything from determining a color scheme to dinner party etiquette. You can also see Ty in our new video series; he's talking decorating with three different color palettes and giving easy on instructions on creating a window seat!

    1. When designing a tablescape, where should you start?


    Begin by considering how many guests you'll be entertaining. Then lay out seating at the table and get a sense of how much space you have to work with—both between guests and in the center of the table. Approaching your design from this perspective will save you time and stress.

    Tip! To determine how many guests you can fit around your table, place chargers or dinner plates on the table to help you visualize. As a general rule, a minimum of 24 inches of space (elbow to elbow) at each setting ensures your guests will be comfortable. 
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    Photo: Scott Spitzer Photography

    2. How do you determine a color scheme for your tablescape?


    Pull inspiration from what's around you in your home.  Look at the colors you've used to fill your space—in wall color, artwork, even in drapes or rugs. By taking cues from your existing color scheme, you can design a beautiful tablescape that's dramatic while also fitting to your space. 

    Tip! Try using complementary colors to play off of the colors in your home. For example, if your walls are yellow, try accents of purple—yellow's complementary color—in your tablescape. A color wheel is a great way to identify colors that will complement your existing décor. (Check out our Home Color Guide for Beginners to learn more!)

  • 3. What are the essentials for a creating beautiful tablescape?


    A beautiful table is all in the details. Chargers, napkins, napkin rings, china, and glassware are all important components. Each adds a layer of quality and finish to your table that will make your guests feel special.

    Tip! When entertaining, it isn't necessary to use all your finest items at the same time. Use a balance of expensive and inexpensive items in your tablescape to make it polished yet comfortable.

    4. If  you can only splurge on one thing for the tablescape, what should it be? 


    The table. Think of this piece of furniture as the foundation for your entire tablescape. When searching for the right design, take into account the size and shape of your space. In a square room, a round table is a great option. In a longer space, a rectangular table works best.

    Tip! If you love your existing table but it feels too small for entertaining, consider purchasing a table extender pad that will enlarge the top, allowing you to seat more guests.
  • Photo: Brian Adams Photography
  • 5. What old school entertaining etiquette rules do we still need to abide by? 


    "Downtown Abbey" may have popularized formal entertaining for some, but many hosts and their guests still prefer slightly more relaxed dinner party etiquette. One element of traditional entertaining that will never go out of style is the use of place cards and assigned seating. By assigning guests to specific seats, it takes out the sometimes awkward moments as they circle the table unsure who to sit next to or what view they prefer.

    Tip! When assigning seating for guests, separate couples, intermingle men and women, and consider your guests' personalities and interests when seating them next to others. 

    6. How do you mix and match plates from different sets to create a cohesive table?


    Typically, mixing different plates creates a rustic or bohemian result. To create an eclectic look that's also cohesive and polished, try using a different set of plates for each course rather than mixing between place settings. For example, use a solid for the appetizer, a patterned for the entrée, and a classic white for dessert. This will infuse interest and excitement with each course while keeping the overall effect organized.

    Tip! Use colored water glasses that coordinate with your plates to add another layer of design to your table.  
  • Photo: Grubers Photographers

    7. What's your favorite centerpiece idea?


    Florals are a timeless approach to centerpieces, but other natural items such as rocks and salvaged wood are great alternatives for creating a sculptural and contemporary tabletop statement. An array of candles of different heights and proportions are also a great way to create a warm and inviting tablescape.

    Tip! Keep centerpieces low enough to allow for easy conversation across the table. As a general rule, centerpieces should be no taller than 15 inches, otherwise they will block the view between your guests. 

    8. What types of flowers are best for a tabletop? 


    The best flowers are the ones that catch your eye—not because they're the largest or most colorful, but because they pique your interest. There is no real right or wrong when it comes to choosing flowers, and trusting your instincts is a good way to approach the decision-making process. 

    Tip! When shopping for flowers, don't be afraid to scoop up bunches of the ones you like. It's much easier to imagine what different flowers look like together when you get your hands dirty and start putting them together.

  • 9. If you can only give us one, what's your ultimate tablescape decorating tip?


    Have fun! No matter how great your table looks, the success of the party is measured by you and your guests enjoying themselves. So don't fixate if the flowers don't seem right midway through dinner or a plate gets broken. Give your guests your full attention and share a laugh with them if things aren't perfect. Because if everything was always perfect, where would the fun be in that?

    Want more advice from Ty? Read his Summer Entertaining Q&A for more tips and tricks.

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