Holiday Entertaining Ideas: A Patina Christmas Tablescape by Courtney Lake

Article Posted By: Courtney Lake

of Courtney Out Loud

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Designer Courtney Lake and his door at their front door decorated for Christmas

The key to truly remarkable decorating for holiday entertaining is knowing a few interior design tricks and having a bit of inspiration. That’s exactly what we have here, with Christmas decorating ideas from Courtney Lake, the creative mind behind Courtney Out Loud.

We are thrilled that Courtney took us up on our Holiday Style Challenge. That’s where we send some of the best design and lifestyle bloggers on the internet a mystery box of Christmas decorations from The Home Depot, and then stand back as they work their holiday decorating magic.

Courtney gives us a mini-course in interior design for holiday entertaining, and he lets us in on the very unusual source of inspiration for his stunning golden brown Christmas tablescapes.

Nostalgic is not a word that most of my friends and family would use to describe me. I don’t really hang on to things for sentimental reasons, but as I get older, I find myself holding onto things a little longer than usual. Letters get tucked into drawers for “safe keeping”. Photos are double backed-up.

So it didn’t strike me as strange that I fell in love with a vintage portrait of a young man while at auction. “Marc,” as I call him, struck a cord with me and was the inspiration for my holiday tablescape. The patina of the actual portrait is what really struck me as beautiful – the slight golden quality of the paper, the soft amber and dark bronzes the artist used to sketch Marc were translated into a palette of white, gold and bronze with touches of white to lighten the overall mood.

Vintage portrait of a boy that inspired a golden brown decorating color palette

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: A Golden Brown Palette


Christmas Decorating Secret Weapon

With a jumping off point thanks to Marc, I envisioned my small dining room as four separate zones where guests would gather, eat and be merry.

Flocked garland was hung around the entry door and decorated with bronze floral picks and a variety of bronze and gold shatterproof ornaments. Attaching both was easy thanks to my “secret weapon” – floral wire. The wire is super light, easily bendable and virtually disappears since it is green.

A coordinating wreath was attached to the door creating a warm and cozy area to greet and send guests on their way.

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Ornament Wreath Hanging in Dining Room

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Christmas Tablescape


Create Zones for Dinner Service

Due to the size of my dining room, most of my dinner parties are buffet style. I like to create zones for each portion of the meal to avoid the problem of everyone always gathering in the kitchen.

Appetizers are served upstairs in the living room, the meal itself is set up on the kitchen island and dessert is set up on a cart beside the dinner table.

A miniature Christmas tree was first flocked with white spray primer and gold spray glitter. I then decorated the tree with gilded faux floral and filled a light-hearted ceramic head with a spray of floral picks to act as the perfect backdrop for dessert.

Strands of glitter berry garland draped over a prized African poster frames out this vignette. The glitter garland reminds me of miniature gold disco balls and is a fun compliment to the traditional garland in the space. Metallic gold and white dessert plates await dessert continuing our color theme with a modern touch.

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Dessert Station Decorated for Christmas


Layer Your Christmas Tablescape

The trick to achieving a picture perfect tablescape is in layering. A long floor-length white tablecloth was used as a base, then layered with a gold metallic cloth and finally, a tree skirt was used as the final layer.

The same goes for the place settings: oversized gold charger, textured dinner plate and patterned salad/dessert plate. Each setting was then finished off with a small keepsake for guests– in this case a small ceramic ornament with a holiday wish. A footed bowl of jingle bells, votives with LED tealights, crisp white napkins, gold flatware and stemware finish off the table.

And I know what you are thinking – umm Courtney, there is a 4-foot tree blocking my view. When it’s time for dinner, the Christmas tree can easily be removed and used as the centerpiece on the buffet or tucked into the corner. Fresh flowers are still on the table to be enjoyed throughout the meal.

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Potted Christmas Tree on Dining Table

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Gorgeous Christmas Tablescape

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Christmas Tablescape in Browns and Golds


Staircase Becomes Holiday Mantel

Having lived in my house for five years, I have found that dinner guests tend to always sit on the stairs after dinner. Odd but true so why fight it?

Instead, I decorate our staircase as if it’s our mantel. Stockings get hung on the railings and decorated with garland, in this case more of the glitter berry garland.

Holiday Entertaining Ideas: Staircase Decorated for Christmas

So I would like to thank Marc, wherever you may be, for making this Christmas special by reminding me to cherish those fleeting moments during the holiday. Don’t get me wrong, I still won’t be making a scrapbook anytime in the near future but I will be taking pause as friends and family sit down at our dinner table and giving thanks for the memories that are to come.

Courtney Lake is a Bay Area interior designer and the voice behind the lifestyle blog Courtney Out Loud. His writing and work has been featured on television, online and in print including: Life & Style Magazine, The Nate Berkus Show, Dabble Magazine, Apartment Therapy, Adore Magazine, Casa Sugar and others. When not designing, he can be found in the kitchen, testing recipes on his partner and playing with his loveable mutt, Scruffy. Read about how he decorated his small backyard in a previous Style Challenge article here on The Home Depot Blog.

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