Casual brunch tabletop ideas
Easy tableware With its gather-round-the-campfire connotations, vintage enamelware is just right for an informal brunch. Original pieces can be picked up second-hand, but can now reach high prices; repro items are less expensive, but may not have quite the vintage appeal.
A touch of red Picking one of two colours to form the basis of a tabletop scheme helps all the elements hang together. Inspiration can come from anywhere. Here, the red of the flowers in the sprigged floral cloth was the starting point for a red theme, which is echoed in the napkins, strawberries and flowers.
Pastel shades Enamelware -- the first Technicolor kitchenware to be mass-produced -- comes in a variety of lovely vintage hues. Look online to find pretty teapots, cups and plates like these ones, which will work with the rest of your tableware.
Help yourself Including help-yourself elements at a brunch party is a good idea, whether it's cutlery stashed in a mug, or platters and bowls piled with delicious things to eat. Allowing guests to serve themselves means less work for you and makes everyone feel easy and relaxed.
Personal touch With just a little effort, it's easy and inexpensive to create eye-catching and original place settings. Use stencil ink to stamp individual numbers (or images) onto plain paper napkins (if you use a stencil sponge, it shouldn't run) or write guests' names on luggage tags and tie them to the vintage kitchen utensils.
Fresh flowers Brighten up your tabletop with brilliant blooms. Here, snapdragon stems and a bunch of roses add a splash of vivid colour. Don't feel you have to stick to vases -- mugs, Kilner jars, even drinking glasses make interesting containers.
Not-just-for-coffee mugs Old enamelware mugs make perfect containers for snacks, forks and even flowers. It doesn't matter if they are not pristine -- the odd bit of chipped enamel only adds to their vintage charm.
5 elements for the perfect casual brunch
A leisurely brunch has to be the most relaxed of all social occasions. This informal meal comes with none of the expectations of a proper Sunday lunch and none of the stress of last-minute cooking, so you have plenty of time to enjoy preparing the table.
1 Choose a cloth or fold a piece of favourite fabric to fit. Brunch is not a formal affair, so don't restrict yourself to white linen; a pretty striped or floral cloth can make the whole room feel cheerful.
2 Use simple, everyday tableware that can either be laid at each place or stacked at one end of the table. Cutlery/flatware can be piled into jars, jugs or mugs, allowing guests to help themselves.
3 For a strong decorative theme, pick out one or two tones from the cloth and repeat them in the accessories. In this brunch vignette, soft pink napkins and vivid flowers echo the reds in the fabric and give a cohesive look to the table.
4 For a quirky twist, introduce some unexpected elements: fill a colander with strawberries, for example; use a mug for flowers or a vintage school slate as a mini tray.
5 The final ingredients? Good friends and good food.
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Excerpted from Table Style by Liz Belton & Rebecca Tanqueray, photography by Debi Treloar. Copyright 2010 by Ryland Peters and Small. Excerpted with permission by Ryland Peters and Small. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.