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The Bend Magazine

In Mixed Company

By: Katy Jones-Gulsby  Photo by: Rachel Benavides

What better way to celebrate the coming spring than with a boozy brunch with friends? Throwing together a quick table for a casual meal shouldn’t be something you agonize about. I’m a firm believer in using items that speak to you on some sort of visceral level; you shouldn’t be afraid to experiment. 

I am endlessly inspired by Bloomsbury-era England in the first half of the 20th century, populated by creatives like painters Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant. Charleston House, the farmhouse retreat of the Bloomsbury group, is an icon of their colorful, playful style. Bell and Grant painted every available surface in riotous frescoes; no wall, door, or piece of furniture was safe. The result is a perfect mix of traditional English farmhouse style, mixed with the freethinking, experimental artwork the Bloomsbury group is famous for. It’s a beautiful combination and one that is easy to take inspiration from using vintage and artisan-made pieces.

A Place at the Table - Styling Tips
• My favorite way to create this look is to hunt for hand-painted dishes. I’ve amassed an incredible collection of serving dishes and tableware from local shops, and it’s so fun to mix and match patterns and styles to create a layered look.

• A densely patterned tablecloth is one of the easiest ways to elevate a table. Think about contrasting colors and patterns; I chose this geometric clay-pink pattern to contrast with the painterly blue pattern of the Gien dishes. 

• One of the most overlooked aspects of a table is the cutlery. I recommend having a second set of flatware that you use for special occasions. The set doesn’t have to be “fancy,” but should bring you pleasure and isn’t the usual utilitarian set.

• I am a hopeless florist. When there’s no time or desire to buy a centerpiece, the easiest and most inexpensive way to bring greenery to a table is to place small plants in terracotta pots. This grouping of ivy was under $10.

Get the Look
“Oiseau Bleu Fruits” Gien Salad Plates, “Filet Bleu” Gien Dinner Plates from Hanley Wood. Mexican Hand-Blown Water Tumblers from Pilar Lifestyles. Bamboo Flatware, Yellow Coupes, Painted Bowls, and Stone Fruit - Vintage from the author’s personal collection, all sourced locally. Similar items can be found at Red Crow Antique Mall