Sunday, December 19, 2010

Setting a holiday table at the BDC

Mix natural elements with a generous serving of shiny objects, add a dash of artistic details along with a shot of traditional touches, and your holiday setting is sure to sparkle!

Last week I attended a Boston Design Center lecture and presentation featuring holiday table settings as influenced by Historic New England properties and collections. The table settings were displayed on the 6th floor of the BDC, where the yearly Dream Home event takes place (click here after reading this post to see views of designed spaces
from previous shows).

One of three tablescapes on display at the BDC

A Bauhaus-influenced Dining Room, circa 1938
The Gropius House of Lincoln, Massachusetts
{Photo from Historic New England website}

The Gropius House was the inspiration behind one of the three modernly-festive tablecapes. The Gropius House was the New England home of Walter Gropius, founder of the German design school known as the Bauhaus, and his family members from 1938 to 1983. His wife, Ise, willed the property to Historic New England (at the time it was called The Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities) to be used as an historic house museum. Wendy Hubbard of Historic New England presented numerous images of this unique property including this view of its modern dining room. Note the pair of Sori Yanagi Butterfly Stools by the fireplace, leather and chrome chairs by Marcel Breuer, and the round Eero Saarinen tulip table which were loosely interpretted with modern design pieces from the BDC, along with items from the collection of reproductions offered for purchase through
Historic New England.

Placemats were fashioned out of “Shoot for the Moon” wallpaper reproduced by Christopher Norman for Historic New England, and the outside was brought in with this table from Janus et Cie adorned with fresh cut greens, pine cones and faux bois silver candlesticks. Simple black and white ceramic Japanese place settings, as favored by Gropius, complete this modern winter tablescape.

In the second two vignettes, designers Susan Newberg and Phylllis Tracy of Neptune 1 Studios showcased pieces from their collections of decoupaged plates inspired by historical wall-coverings.

The dark blue colorway of “Shoot the Moon” provides a rich backdrop to this table setting featuring plates designed with scenic images captured from the 18th-century English wallpaper that still adorns the Jerimiah Lee Mansion in Marblehead, Massachusetts.

Susan Newberg, whose graphic design expertise has brought new-life to these historic wall-coverings, is pictured here with designer Rosanne Palazola. All of us have design pieces represented at New England Fine Living in Middleton, Massachusetts.

Nancy Faye Glass (a design friend of mine that I met while working on The Stevens Estate in North Andover) and Phyllis Tracy are both wearing designer fashions from the Peabody Essex Museum boutique. I recognized Nancy’s black and white wool dress-coat as a piece from the Iris Apfel collection.

Iris would love this third table setting adorned with birds, feathers, and jewel-toned glassware and botanicals. The plates are designed with sectional representations of the pretty and bright floral paper that graces the walls of one of the glamorous rooms in the Beauport Sleeper-McCann House in Gloucester, Massachusetts. Interior decorator Henry Davis Sleeper actually designed homes for members of Hollywood’s elite including Joan Crawford. His design sensibility was intelligently whimsical and theatrical.

I am putting “visit the Beauport

on my 2011 to-do list!

Neptune 1 Studios Decor Chinois Collection is available at The Martin Group at the Boston Design Center and online through Historic New England. Click here for more retail locations.

Neptune 1 Studios at New England Fine Living:
JOJ Frost Collection and The Lee Mansion Collection

Neptune 1 Studio’s Ashley Bowen Collection
is also available at New England Fine Living

Contact Neptune 1 Studios if you are interested in carrying their line or commissioning a piece.

If you are in the design profession in the New England area and are interested in learning more about Historic New England and their curated collections, they have a new design group membership that includes visits to the historic properties on their register among other benefits. For more details on the Ogden Codman Design Group Membership click here.

{Images from Historic New England website}

For a wealth of information on historical architecture and design in New England,
click here to view past issues of Historic New England Magazine online.


  1. Hello Yvonne,
    Thank you for including me on your blog roll, I truly appreciate it. Hop eyou have a wonderful holiday.
    xo Emily

  2. Gorgeous! Thank you so much for sharing!

  3. It was great to see you at the Design Center for this wonderful event. Historic New England and Neptune1 Studios did an incredible job of bringing us the holiday style of such iconic style makers and their homes... and you did an equally outstanding job with your overview of the information they shared and displays they created. I am sure that the holiday table in your home will be magnificent too!


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