The Home Front: top tips for spring-like tablescapes

“If there’s ever a piece that draws me in that’s a little bit unexpected, I’ll start with it,” says interior designer Paige Gray.

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If you’re planning on entertaining this Easter weekend (or anytime this spring), there are simple things you can do to make it feel special, says interior designer Paige Gray, co-founder of boutique design firm Parker & Harlow.

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Gray studied industrial design at Emily Carr University of Art & Design and architecture at the University of British Columbia. Here she shares her top tips for your tablescapes and environments.

Place an obscure object by the side of your dining table to spark conversation, says Gray. Most people have something they love in their homes, and others may find it odd. Now it’s time to get it out and place it on your sideboard.

This Easter, Gray chose a beautiful wreath from Vancouver’s Nogori Flowers as a talking point.

“If there’s ever a piece that pulls me in and is a little bit unexpected, that’s where I start,” she says, adding that she loves Nogori Flowers for their tousled yet organized approach to floral arrangements.

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Easter table setting by designer Paige Gray of Parker & Harlow, in collaboration with Provide Home and Nogori Flowers.
Easter table setting by designer Paige Gray of Parker & Harlow, in collaboration with Provide Home and Nogori Flowers. Photo by Renae Leboe /PNG

Our understanding of celebration has shifted in recent years, and Gray says any stereotypical notions of gatherings have gone out the window with COVID. People look for authenticity and meaning in everything, so collaborating with like-minded design brands Nogori Flowers and Vancouver’s Provide Home for their Easter decor was an obvious choice.

Both brands stand for beautifully made, extremely creative, often lovingly selected, locally sourced products, says Gray. “It was a very constructive project and a lot of fun.”

They wanted a clean, simple aesthetic for the table, adds Gray, and chose Fors Studio ceramic plates and bowls. “Their philosophy as a brand is ‘enough is a lot’ and I think that’s nice, especially at Easter.”

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Gray chose a Blackcreek Mercantile & Trading Co. white oak butcher block of such a “satisfying weight”. “We also have some of her gorgeous candle holders, which are obscure, large, and dainty pieces with a touch of light,” she says.

If you don’t like tablecloths, grab beautiful linen napkins. “When people come into your house, they almost feel guilty using your napkins. I love it! It’s like oh my god! I left the kids at home and come here and enjoy these beautiful things!” she says.

Wreath by Nogori Flowers from Vancouver.
Wreath by Nogori Flowers from Vancouver. Photo by Renae Leboe /PNG

Stemware is another important element in setting a beautiful table, and this Easter Gray has chosen ceramic mugs from Fors Studio. “You have this little dent in your lip where your thumb sits and at first you think they’re pretty small, but when they’re in your hand they’re the perfect size for everything; Wine, sparkling water, whatever your heart desires,” she says.

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Floral elements are always great when it comes to entertainment, says Gray. If you can make a wreath they look great, but you could also put cherry blossoms in the center of your table or have a row of small vases with buds on them.

Gray’s love of natural elements in her design may have something to do with living on Vancouver Island.

Her business partner, who is also her mother, lives in Powell River, where Parker & Harlow’s studio is located. Gray takes the water taxi to work every day as the company specializes in “major island home renovations” on remote islands.

People’s ideas about home and gathering have changed over the past two years, and they’re seeing it in their design projects, Gray says. A recently completed renovation at Cortes Island was for a family who intended to use the home as a summer residence. However, as the project progressed, they decided that this would be their primary residence, with their home in Burnaby now being their landing pad in the city.

“It’s been really great working with clients who love the coast and are willing to step away from certain luxuries a bit because the luxury of the coast is enough,” she says.

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