Party Perfect: Raiding Grandma’s china cabinet
Party Perfect: Raiding Grandma’s china cabinet
01/14/2013

Eclectic and vintage pieces can create a unique look

We all have the usual white and ivory china, but recently, trends have turned to a more colorful version. I’m talking about plates that are straight out of Grandma’s closet — toile patterns, rural scenes, florals and roosters. I think they are gorgeous, but it’s all in how you use them. A red toile pattern on a red-rimmed charger with colored glass? On a farm table? With burlap or linen? That is so huge right now.

These patterns — roosters, toile and all — are in Williams-Sonoma, Anthropologie, Pottery Barn and Villaroy & Boch. These plates are hot right now. The idea of every plate being different, but telling the same story is very hip, very now.

Trends in tabletop include layered plates, colored glass, farm tables and no matching items. There is a fine line between tacky and awesome, and it all revolves around how you present it. Now, it’s all about layering.

Picking what’s right for your inventory with these kinds of trends is all about how you listen to your customers. Here’s the thing I never understand: Why do people think they have to buy the whole collection? You buy a setting, put it in your showroom, see if it gets a bite or two and then buy it as you need it. You don’t have to buy it all at once.

However — and this is key — you need vendors who can get it to you within a week. I have brides who walk in three days before their wedding. If I can’t get it for two weeks, I might lose the event. I don’t care that it’s more expensive to buy on short notice. If I can plan for a just-in-time shipment for new and trendy inventory, while letting my customers pick the trends, I feel one step ahead.

The thing with these types of plates is that you use them as pieces and you buy what you need when you need it. You can just take certain pieces, make it eclectic and make it make sense. Believe it or not, sometimes, no sense makes lots of sense. You want it to be upscale, but homey, looking put together, but understated. It has an effortless look, but feels comfortable.

The result is it makes people feel like the event is part of them. It’s not upfront elegance, it’s understated. Everything is about undertones — it’s not boastful or lux. It’s going to feel natural.

This concept of letting your customers pick the trends extends to the event. There’s more family style dining at events than I’ve seen in 20 years. We now provide bowls and platters for this style that go with the eclectic trend that is occurring. Your customers are going to want a longer and wider table to do it family style. That’s why I’m now carrying farmhouse tables. You can do it on a round table, but it’s nice on a longer and wider table that has some extra space and a charm of its own.

I understand that there are mixed opinions about farmhouse tables — some love it and some never thought about renting it, because it’s new. I added them in to my inventory because we had a wedding party that wanted them. I’d sold them before we even had them in stock. They wanted something that looks like furniture, not necessarily something they have to put a linen on.

Matchy-matchy is so 1980s and 1990s. When you make everything the same, it makes everything look flat, but if you pick a color palate and stay within it, all the colors stand out and give the table texture. It pops.

In our showroom, we did all hues of gold. You see everything and it gets noticed. People come in with swatches. Do they really want the bridesmaids to blend with the tables? No. So, you choose colors in the same family, but not the same color. You want it all to stand out, but tell the same story. There are a ton of options for color. You can pair that toile plate with colored glass and colored plates.

Depression glass is hot. It’s beautiful. I’ve seen milk-white, black, red and blue, but in hues of turquoise and amber. I love the turquoise Depression glass, but rubies are always a standard. Green is supposed to be the color for next year.

Anything that’s eclectic and of heirloom quality is hot right now. It has to be vintage without being old. There are items that are vintage and classic, but you also have to pair them with modern accents. Everything’s cyclical. Nobody used flat champagne glasses in the 1980s and 1990s. Now they are vintage.

Repurposing also means making unique items, taking something you already have and making it into something else. I see specialty rental shops picking different types of chairs, using a wood shop and making their own furniture or décor — I think that’s the ultimate trend now.

For table décor, everybody wants something unique and everyone wants something different. You can take the essence of something old and make it modern. Consider farmhouse tables and contrasting color schemes. Don’t be afraid of patterns that used to be old because they will help to bring home into an event.

Be sure that all the pieces are part of the event’s color palate, so that you see each one. Mix-and-match can all work together.

Encourage your customers to “raid Grandma’s china cabinet.” It’s the next big thing.

Kristen Redmond, owner, United Rent All, Hillsborough, N.J., can be reached at 908-359-3663 or email kristen@unitedrentall.com.