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YHL – Atypical Table

Atypical Table

Building a Tablescape Beyond Stereotypes

“There’s something about having friends around the table for hours at a time that just . . . it fills my heart, it’s my favorite thing,” says Colleen Pastoor, the creative do-it-yourselfer behind the blog Lemon Thistle ( Many of us can relate to that sentiment, especially this time of year. Fall holidays draw friends and families together to feast, bond, and celebrate the turn of the seasons. “In fall, people tend to have more time to reconnect after busy summers. But also there’s the colors of pumpkins, flowers, and foliage. It’s just a pretty time of year,” says Pastoor.

Mom to four young kids, Pastoor resides in British Columbia. She started her blog when pregnant with her twins. “I went off work at twenty-three weeks, so I went from working multiple jobs to needing something to focus on,” she explains. Lemon Thistle began as a personal blog to keep her busy and eventually became the creative haven it is today. “I like to say that I share DIY for real people. I share everything from the fails to the challenges.” She focuses on DIY, home decor, entertaining, as well as teaching others how to do hand lettering. “If people come to Lemon Thistle, my goal is for them to leave inspired to try something new or with the confidence to try something they were unsure of before. I want to take the intimidation out of the DIY,” she says.

She takes a relaxed, realistic, and kid-friendly approach to her creative projects. To create this tablescape, Pastoor draws on the autumn iconography that we all love while looking beyond the stereotypical colors of the season. “I’ve never loved the oranges and reds of autumn, but I still love autumn, so trying to find something different has been a fun challenge over the years,” she says.

Before starting a tablescape, she first assembles the elements together. “I’m a very visual person. I find it helpful to gather all of the pieces I am thinking of using in one place. It helps me see if the color scheme is working or if I need more of one color or another. When it’s gathered, you can see if it’s going to work or if something stands out as not being a great fit,” she says.

She describes her thought process behind this specific look. “I like to add fresh items to a tablescape. They bring so much texture and color,” she explains. This design combines fresh elements, starting with gourds. Here she includes roughly textured kabocha squash in green, white baby boo pumpkins, and green acorn squash. Branches provide another fresh element and an expansion of the color palette. Pastoor bought these branches from a florist to save time, but she usually prefers to forage for those touches. She suggests using dark-leaved maple, and other deep-red or deep-purple foliage such as ninebark, smokebush, and Japanese maple. Cool-tone eucalyptus spray, borrowed from another arrangement she had in her house, provides contrast. Dried strawflowers also add a delicate accent to the design.

Pastoor gathers white dishware, gray cloth napkins, and black tableware for the dinner settings. She finds it helpful to set the table before finalizing the tablescape. “When you’re having a dinner party, you have to keep in mind what your goals are. You want to be able to see people and encourage conversation. I keep everything quite low and out of people’s eating space,” she says. “You don’t want to be hosting and then have to clear decorations off your table so people can eat.”

Glass holders and a vintage cream and sugar set hold tealights and add warmth to the table when lit. One last handmade touch to this tableau are the pumpkins that serve as place cards. “Hand lettering is something I enjoy doing and something that I teach. I try to teach it in an easy, understandable way because not everybody wants to be an expert at it. Most just want to do it well enough to create cards and home decor,” she explains.

Pastoor’s last bit of advice for creating a tablescape is to challenge yourself. “Be playful. I dare you to try a color that you wouldn’t expect for a holiday and see how you can make it fit your vision. That’s so fun.”

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