Out & About: Tablescaping at Frontgate With Denise McGaha

Franki Durbin Denise McGaha

If ever a designer lived and breathed her design confidence, it’s Denise McGaha. I’ve long been impressed with her bold interiors and personal style. And while I’ve spent a bit of time with her at various High Point or Dallas showrooms, October provided my first opportunity to see her give a demostration or speak at an event. The ever-popular Frontgate location near my home hosted an evening with Denise showing us how to tablescape like a boss and deck the halls with confidence this season.

Denise McGaha

I can speak for all of us in attendance when I tell you it was well worth the time on a busy weeknight to hear her wise tidbits and decorating strategies. More importantly, she sparked in all of us a renewed sense of confidence and empowerment as we prepared our homes for guests - or even decorated merely for ourselves.

Clearly, the Frontgate team felt the same. Denise now only transformed one table for the event - but four complete table vignettes plus the rear of the store featuring a massive hearth. Suffice it to say she was a hit!

If you’ve ever been to one of these showrooms it’s a wonderland of the prettiest home furnishings & accessories you can imagine. So in the hands of a master designer, the gold place settings, beaded runners & oak tables took on a new life.

But, back to the event…

As Denise toured us around the various scenes, she encouraged us to forget about fussy “rules” or stodgy guidelines for entertaining. Fresh eucalyptus stems in a water pitcher? Of course. Ornaments as place markers? Absolutely. A garden stool as a center piece? You bet. In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

In addition to marvelous visual inspiration, Denise empowered every one of us to decorate with confidence and not worry about what was considered traditional. If you love it, it probably works.

Her ONE rule (if you will): if and when you do use a tablecloth, please ensure it still covers the table once you add the leaf to your dining table. A “too short” tablecloth was her one “no” of the evening. Otherwise, she encouraged us to play, experiment and boldly innovate to create whimsical ways of decorating for entertaining.

Her first table was all about Christmas. Reds, silver, a mix of place settings and - of course - greenery. Right off the bat, she encouraged us to mix reds (yes, even of they were two shades off!) and have fun with differing dishes as well. Stack them, mix them, enjoy them. I love how she used sterling silver vessels for flowers, as sort of a cheeky nod to tradition.

Her next two transformation areas were less about the holidays, and more about infusing your tables - and your home - with classic pieces utilized in unexpected ways. Tall patio lanterns served as centerpieces stacked on a garden stool seemed perfectly chic the way Denise styled them. The lush magnolia branches (a southern favorite!) added a rich, luxurious feel to the scene. On yet another table she used chinoiserie canisters and hurricane candleholders to set the stage for entertaining.

My favorite, however, was her final tablescaping flourish: The GOLD & orange table! Who knew the humble “cutie” could be reimagined as a posh holiday table accent? From clear lucite obelisks (drool-worthy) to luxe gold beaded quatrefoil placemats, this scene had my name written all over it. I love how she played with height for maximum impact and set gold decorative trees on dessert pedestals for even more drama. This was a rulebreaker’s table if there ever was one. And I loved it. Look at those magnolia leaves cradling the spilled fruits? Honestly, girl. You’ve got game!

Who is Denise McGaha?

If you’re not familiar with her interior design work, prepare to be amazed. Here are just a few photos from one of my favorite projects. When I tell you she is a master of design, I am not kidding. I could go on ad nauseum about the architectural & design details in these photos, but her portfolio speaks for itself. Her work has been widely celebrated in the press, with every publication from Traditional Home to Modern Luxury taking notice of her masterful approach to design & living. Visit denisemcgaha.com for more and be sure to follow her on Instagram for daily inspiration.

Photography by the talented Stephen Karlisch.

Denise McGaha

YOU MAY ALSO ENJOY

Merry Christmas To All...

Merriest of Christmases to you all! It's been a year of love from all of you. I can't thank you each enough for reading the blog, connecting with me here and on various other channels. My favorite aspect of blogging is the relationships I build with so many of you outside of this format. Your emails, your texts our calls and your notes mean everything. May each of you find the light of love today and cherish the holiday for what it is: a gift. 

Merry Christmas! 

xoxo
Franki

Holidays: One More Sleep Until Christmas...

Only one more sleep until Christmas morning! Today will be filled with quick stops to get last minute goodies and take in the aura of the lights everywhere we go. Tonight I love taking one last cruise through our favorite neighborhoods all solled up for the holidays while sipping cocoa and oohing and ahhing over the spectacle of lights. After the girls finally fall sleep I'll be able to begin the flurry of gift wrapping and prepping for the big morning ahead.

Finally... it's here. Christmas! The only thing I have not squeezed into my schedule yet is my annual viewing of Love Actually. This becomes much more difficult with children in the house since most of that movie is very NOT kid friendly. Perhaps once they sleep I'll indulge and take in every emotional moment of it. Ahhh... Christmas Eve. Truly my favorite night of the year. 

I don't know how your year was, but 2014 has gone by far too fast. Boom! It's gone. Once the beauty and light of Christmas Day has slipped past I plan to spend the week being intentional and reassessing life goals both large and small. I'm not letting 2015 go by in a pink and gold blur. Will you?

Until then... make today merry and bright and help make someone's Christmas extra special. Give, give, give and the joy you've been looking for will suddenly be present in your life.