Get inspired to reinvent your gatherings with tips from top designers and influencers in this exciting new series. Explore all these compelling design ideas below, and create collections that speak to your style.

Kathryn Greeley Hero Image

- Kathryn Greeley

Q&A with Kathryn Greeley

For this edition, we spoke with Kathryn Greeley, author of The Collected Tabletop and owner of Kathryn Greeley Designs.

Q: Do you style your table by mixing and matching patterns?

A: My design philosophy for both interiors and tabletops has long included collections. A mix of collections for tabletop design can soften the hard edges of our busy lives and add beauty and quality to everyday dining as well as special occasions.

Mixing antique collections with contemporary tabletop pieces adds drama and a sense of the unexpected. The juxtaposition of the grand with the ordinary and humble, and the intermingling of a variety of colors, adds interest to tabletop design.  Most all of my tabletop designs, especially for holiday designs, mix at least two to three china patterns, as well as two to three stemware patterns.

Q: How do you choose the patterns you use to mix and match?

A: I choose patterns that I love, including new, old, traditional, and transitional, in colors that mix compatibly with the color palette of my home. I like a mix of patterns: floral patterns, plaids, design motifs, all often mixed with solid-color patterns.  My goal for tabletop design is a pleasing mix of scale, color, pattern, and texture.

As an avid gardener and one who enjoys floral design, I select flowers and plants that complement but do not overwhelm the mix of tabletop patterns. Flowers and plants are always present in my mind when I add patterns to my tabletop designs! Collecting patterns that you love and bring you joy are key. When I look upon my tabletop designs, each element evokes memories and promotes traditions.

Q: Tell me more - talk to me about how you think about designing your table.

A: I always want to start with a beautifully designed table, whether it's a lovely antique or a new handcrafted design. To that I add a well-loved and cared-for tablecloth, and interesting placemats for creative chargers. The tablecloth may be one that I find in an antique or linen shop or one custom-made from a fabric selected in my design library.

From there I begin my mix of patterns, colors, and textures in china, stemware, and flatware. Again, I always consider both flowers and lighting when designing my tabletops. My preference of course is the mix of old and new. This process is really no different than the way I approach the design of a room or a home.

Many years ago, I purchased my first Christmas china pattern - Holly Ribbons by Royal Worcester.  Rather than getting every single piece in this pattern, I decided to start another pattern that had a different feel, but would be compatible with Holly Ribbons. This pattern was Spode’s Christmas Rose.  I liked the mix of the bright “crispness” of Holly Ribbons with the more subtle layering of design in Christmas Rose. Through the years, several stemware patterns such as Thistle (that I of course found at Replacements!) have "spoken to me." I have added several stemware patterns to my holiday table designs, along with my beloved Buttercup by Gorham and several others I inherited from my mother.

When I began working on The Collected Tabletop, I commissioned Kenny Pieper to make twelve unique martini glasses for an event in the book.  I have had numerous clients interested in buying these exquisite pieces, but I finally decided that I must keep them and add them to my holiday tabletop designs! They are not used for martini glasses, but for different appetizers, such as shrimp or lobster cocktail, or for a sorbet between courses.

By adhering to a color palette for your tabletop design, you are able to add collections as you find them. Recently I added yet another pattern to my holiday table from Replacements - Tartan from Royal Doulton. I particularly liked the way it layered with my existing patterns. I think that tabletop designs evolve much like rooms evolve; we find things that speak to who we are, our personal style, and how we live. The care we take in our tabletop designs - and entertaining at these tables - is one of the greatest gifts we can bestow on friends and family!