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Deck the Halls

Posted On November 5, 2020

Wilmington designers share their tips for festive and seasonal tablescapes

By CAROLINE RUTLEDGE  »  Photos by KELLY STARBUCK PHOTOGRAPHY


Pumpkins, colorful leaves, football, fall is in the air, which means the holidays are upon us! And no matter how or which holiday(s) you celebrate, or none at all, it’s the time of year for physically-distanced gatherings, decorating, and reflecting. It’s no secret that the holidays may look a little different this year, though no matter what or how you celebrate, four local businesses and experts in design share their annual decorating secrets and tablescapes to help inspire you as you prepare for what Andy Williams deems as “the most wonderful time of the year.”

Sugarwood Interiors
Janece Stone, Jessica Beckerich and Evan Gray

Located in Porters Neck, Sugarwood Interiors offers distinct home furnishings including high-end, one-of-a-kind furniture, rugs, lighting, art and accessories to compliment a modern coastal décor. Owned by Janece Stone, Sugarwood offers professional interior design and decorating services. When it comes to decorating for holidays, Stone, along with Jessica Beckerich, Interior Designer, and Evan Gray, Creative Stylist, sought inspiration in the shop itself to create a refined, modern, relaxed look. “We started with some of our favorite things to collectively put together a natural and festive tablescape. It is a great representation of our style and overall aesthetic,”
explains Stone.

The Sugarwood team started with a neutral palate of white dishes, serving pieces, and gray textured placemats, and then brought the outdoors inside to add pops of color with greenery and berries. The centerpiece they chose is a large, white log filled with beautiful and colorful magnolia leaves, holly berries, pine cones and sprigs with layered white candles throughout. White ceramic trees and brown reindeer help bring the table to life. “The placements brought in the natural element as we layered our plates with a red napkin, says Stone. “The centerpiece really just brought everything together.” Another focal point of this tablescape is the arboreal wall décor accents by two small pine trees on each side to continue the theme of using natural elements to create an organic presentation.

The Sugarwood Design team is full of creative ideas to help inspire do-it-yourself holiday decorating. “Start with a white plate,” explains Gray. “This allows you to use any color napkin and accent.” They also recommend using plenty of candlelight through a mix of varying candle size and shapes as seen in their use of both pillar and taper candles. Other simple DIY tips include cutting fresh greenery from your yard right before guests arrive, displaying champagne or wine in a nice bucket, and using place card settings to add personalization to the table.

According to Stone, Beckerich, and Gray, some hot trends this season include farmhouse neutrals, recycled materials, and natural/organic inspiration, all which the team display in their festive and natural tablescape.

Sugarwood Interiors
167 Porters Neck Rd.
Wilmington, NC 28411
910.319.7779
sugarwoodnc.com

niche. Decor & Gifts
Chris Gray and DeDe Bennett

“Your style. your space. your vision.,” is the mantra of niche., an exclusive Bramble furniture store complimented with decor and gifts. Chris Gray and DeDe Bennett, celebrating 14 years of friendship, opened niche. as a way to help new and old friends find a gift for themselves or others and to leave feeling inspired, energized and nurtured. Earlier this spring, Gray and Bennet launched an online store so niche. is available no matter where you live.

Gray and Bennett’s holiday tablescape truly looks like a winter wonderland and is the perfect blend of neutrals, which are still trending in the design world, accented with natural greenery for a pop of color. “We chose to incorporate the multiple churches and cottages as the foundation because these are new to niche. this year,” explains Gray. “They play off the traditional Christmas village display that many homes include during the holidays, yet these churches add a new twist and provide an opportunity to add unique accents as well.” Whimsical starfish are the perfect way to also highlight the coastal charm of the Wilmington community at the holidays.

“The tablescape allows a subtle, natural color palate of whites that are pleasing to the eye,” says Bennett. “Different white tones work together along with natural greens and wood tones for a lovely presentation. We also included some of our
absolutely wonderful

Bedrock Tree Farm candles (soy based) for that extra ambiance.” This serene presentation is versatile in that it can be replicated in any room of the house from a dining room table to a sofa table in a living room. Gray and Bennett used some churches that are battery powered, allowing for placement without concern for electrical outlets. “We also used coastal items that stay out around one's home year-round to reflect the coastal vibe of our area. The combination looks lovely and timeless,” explains Gray.

When it comes to DIY decorating, Bennett and Gray recommend using varied heights and textures, including personal or meaningful items, and introducing color or light. According to Bennett, “Our gnomes remain a fun, popular holiday trend. We are also seeing natural color palates being incorporated beyond the traditional reds and greens.  We love using year-round elements of homes that reflect the beauty of our coastal area into holiday décor, which promotes a uniqueness. Certainly, a niche for niche.!”

The niche. showroom continues to be open regular hours and to accommodate all shoppers, niche. is also offering curbside pickup. The curbside pickup option is available on their new website at checkout. niche. is offering a discount special per this article for all online purchases, so you can share niche. with friends and family near and far! Use Coupon Code WILMMAG for 10% off your online purchase until December 25, 2020.

niche. Decor & Gifts
3501 Oleander Dr., Suite 11
Wilmington, NC, 28403
910.769.8839
nichebycustomhome.com


Nest Fine Gifts and Interiors
Rachel Hoenig and Suzanne Reid

Nest Fine Gifts and Interiors is a unique home furnishings boutique that offers interior design and decorating services. Owned by Monika Williams and managed by Marie Polak, Nest inspires creativity and helps turn imagination into reality.

The creative interior design team at Nest, including Rachel Hoenig and Suzanne Reid, helped create the store’s 2020 holiday tablescape, which focuses on an autumnal presentation. “We always love to use tons of natural texture with warm and cozy color tones in our fall décor,” explains Hoenig. “Similar to creating a floral arrangement, you start with the filler. In this case, the filler was the neutral color palette. We then went back in and added pops of warmer color and metallic gold to add interest.”

Nest’s tablescape is full of layers, textures, and pops of fall colors. Instead of one focal centerpiece, Nest used two large glass hurricane candleholders, along with topiaries and candles of varying heights to line the center of the table. Small pumpkins and leaves are the perfect way to add a natural fall element to the table and add pops of color, as do the eye-catching orange topiaries. Another touch of fall nature in this tablescape are the feather napkin holders which add texture, color, and a touch of autumn.

For informal DIY entertaining, Hoenig and Reid recommend adding handwritten place cards for a special, personal touch. “Try using mini white pumpkins instead of paper place cards and write your guest’s name in gold sharpie or paint pen,”
suggests Hoenig.

In thinking about trends for the 2020 holiday season and limitations on large gatherings, Nest designers say, “We are predicting a lot of decked out front porches this year. Large wreaths on the door, full strands of garland, and layered outdoor rugs create a cozy and festive oasis in the smallest of outdoor spaces.” Hoenig explains, “No matter what holiday you may be celebrating. We believe more is more when setting the table for the holidays. More layers plus more texture plus more volume equals the perfect holiday table.”

If you are hosting, a fun, festive idea from Hoenig is to “welcome your guests with an apple cider mimosa. Rim a champagne glass with cinnamon sugar, fill with champagne and add a splash of cold apple cider, garnish with thin apple slice.” Cheers!

Nest Fine Gifts & Interiors
1125 Military Cutoff, Suite T
910.256.6378
nestfinegifts.com

Port City Peddler
Melanie Kaye Hamm and Sibyl Lavengood

Conveniently located in the Market Street shopping district in the Cape Fear area, just outside of Wilmington, NC, Port City Peddler is a multi-vendor shop with the perfect blend of gifts, antiques, and eclectic finds. Port City Peddler was founded by Melanie Kaye Hamm, known to many as Kaye, who has been in Wilmington for over 20 years. With the help of Sibyl Lavengood, a local antiques dealer, Hamm offers a tablescape that is full of color, layers, and vintage patterns.

 According to Hamm, “I feel that blue is a color that never goes out of fashion. I specifically chose the blue willow china pattern for this because it is a classic china pattern.  Many people already have it in the home, and it looks amazing at Christmas paired with beautiful bright red accents.” Hamm suggests pairing the china with cloth napkins or natural elements such as prigs of holiday greenery, flowers, red roses, or red amaryllis.

In reflecting on her tablescape, Hamm says, “I chose to set a formal table complete with silver, candles, salt cellars and knife rests, but this tablescape can be done casually as well. Just take away the candles and the formal cutlery!”

For DIY decorating, Hamm recommends focusing on everyday china you already have rather than focusing on a specific holiday china pattern or holiday china at all in order to set a beautiful holiday table. “I chose this china because I want people to see that they can make a lovely tablescape with everyday china and fresh cuttings from one’s own yard,” says Hamm, who suggests taking clippings from boxwood, holly, pine, or magnolias. “Just look to nature in your own backyard,” says Hamm.

When it comes to 2020 holiday décor trends, Hamm explains, “For this season, I am seeing a lot of clear glass and crystal ornaments and decor, combined with a lot of gold. Also, Buffalo plaid is still going strong and is great for a more casual affair.”

“When it comes to holiday decorating, I like to use what I have. I enjoy decorating my entire home with fresh cuttings and even fruit. Beautiful round ornaments in your color choice look great in a clear bowl or clear vase that you probably already have in your cupboard, and maybe add a bit of ribbon,” suggests Hamm. “It does not have to be expensive to be beautiful!  Maybe you have an old sled that you can tie a ribbon on and place on the front porch. Look around you will be surprised what you find!”

Port City Peddler
6213 Market Street
910.444.8881
portcitypeddler.com

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