French country inspiration for a tablescape

Art de la table : inspiration campagne française

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I’ve recently read a famous quote by Elsie de Wolfe that said “I’m going to make everything around me beautiful – that will be my life”. This is a pretty good precept, don’t you think? We should all bring more poetry in our daily life and especially at home. Why should we wait for great occasions to bring out our fine china, change the sofa cushions according to our mood or simply add one or two inspirational books on the bedside table? We should enjoy things that we like, that give us energy or inspiration every single day.

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I was visiting my florist in the countryside (just before the lockdown) as they had recently opened a small tea and coffee place in their boutique. I love going there – it really makes the whole experience more charming. You can sit among flowers while sipping your tea and waiting for your cakes (yes, “cakes” is plural here – I like to order at least two cakes at the same time!). Even better, the cakes are served on beautiful vintage china. Very old French country style. J’adore. And the owners told me that one of their customers enjoyed the experience so much that he brought out his mother’s china that was packed in cardboard boxes for years, and is now using it everyday.

As with life, I love bringing poetry to my tablescapes. It seems that the art of setting tables is diminishing a lot these days in France and people like to opt for modern and minimalist options instead. They are also more practical. Funnily, French art de vivre seems to inspire everyone else but the French. It is a pity. We are famous for spending so much time sitting at a table taking lots of time to eat and chat, so why not make it a pleasant experience overall? 

This tablescape has been inspired by my vision of French country style… as a French girl. I’ve made this tablescape during lockdown in Paris and I was lucky to be able to pick flowers at the office where we have a garden.

It’s a table set for a small party of four but that does not mean you cannot be a little bit extravagant. The focus here is on the patterns that are all different: stripes on the placemats, animals on the plates, and flowers on the vase. I love combining and playing with different motifs in order to enhance certain things. For instance, stripes associated with flowers provide a great contrast and association to the table. It brings richness to the eye and helps put everything else into perspective. 

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When you add a bouquet, such as this one, you may notice that it is quite pink. Too much pink, in my opinion, can quickly become boring. So a nice way to add more depth is to add a few dark flowers. I love having a few dark tulips or dahlias in a bouquet because they bring character. I’ve added here two black tulips and it looked instantly better. What do you think?

This is really one of my favorite tablescapes and I am very happy to have been a finalist at the competition organized by the French Conféderation des Arts de la Table.  

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On another note, we’ve been able to leave Paris for the countryside last week (after two months of strict lockdown in Paris) and I’ll take a few days off to work in the kitchen garden and plant tomatoes, cucumbers, lettuce, beetroots… I guess I am starting to think in “survivor” mode now. 😉

Unfortunately, we will not invite our friends or family over for quite some time as we still want to keep social distancing, so I will set new tables with new themes just for inspiration and why not try a few recipes perfect for summer too.

I would love to see how you set tables at home, so send me your photos at contact@unebonnemaison.com

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