Even though “stylish” and “traditional” may seem like opposites and mean something different to each of us, the two qualities can actually be combined beautifully and comfortably, especially at Passover.
As a proponent of the expression of the authentic self in one’s home, I believe the table setting is a perfect venue to express the style of the hostess and host.
Decide if you are formal-stylish/traditional or casually stylish/traditional and if you want to celebrate the holiday in a serious or fun way. Fortunately, Passover can be interpreted both ways. There was pain because of the slavery and hardship associated with the holiday, and also joy, freedom and celebration. As you plan your style, if you want the Seder table to be fun, elegant or colorful, let your imagination run free and watch your guests’ faces light up as they enter the room.
Enjoy and be inspired — have fun with the creation. There is no right or wrong when expressing what is beautiful to you.
An easy way to build the desired look is by layering, layering, layering. It is the secret to achieving a fabulous table setting.
After you have chosen your personal theme, think colors. Since colors speak and tell the story, carefully plan your color scheme. This can be influenced by the holiday, the food being served, the season or the decor in your home.
Once you are in your design process, the rest of the selections will connect to your theme. You will create a statement with each decision you make.
First, select the tablecloth color, pattern and texture. Then choose the napkin colors. You can be more formal by matching napkins to the tablecloth or more casual by complementing or contrasting napkin colors. Usually, the napkin is the first thing touched after sitting down at the table — it is the introduction, so to speak. Napkins can be presented in holders of all shapes and materials, standing in glasses, or placed on or under dinner plates.
Next, choose coordinated dishes, glasses and flatware to continue the look. Make sure there is room for the Haggadah to be featured and given a prominent place. I also recommend place cards at each setting, so you needn’t police the table when guests are being seated.
For this holiday, tall centerpieces would interfere with the interaction of the participants in the reading of the Haggadah. Therefore, low plants or even petals and leaves from plants and trees strewn across the table could be a perfect touch, especially if you have a garden. It will also cover up wine spills, matzah crumbs and charoset droppings.
A lovely addition is to give each person his or her own small Seder plate. This personal touch will also minimize reaching and passing around the table.
Another personal touch encouraged at this holiday is comfort. Place color-coordinated cushions and ribbons on the seat and back of each chair.
Now, evaluate your table. Extra splashes of color, texture, shapes and different heights always add individuality and the wow factor to any table or space. But don’t overdo it.
Finally, look at your table when it is done and see if there is anything you need to add or take away design-wise and of course anything you have forgotten to include that will be needed.
I wish all Jewish hostesses and hosts a happy, easy and healthy Passover holiday. And remember, rooms — and table settings — have no feelings, but you do. So create what brings you beauty and joy. JN
Barbara Kaplan, Allied ASID, IFDA, is a Scottsdale-based interior designer, creator and author of ‘The Bajaro Method, Rooms Have No Feelings, You Do!’ and founder of Barbara’s Picks, a design and lifestyle resource online directory.