A stylist-editor gives an elegant setting a global vibe with a twist.
Ben Reynaert knows a thing or two about creating a chic setting. After stints styling interiors at Martha Stewart, Traditional Home and One Kings Lane, the New Yorker is now a Market Editor for a trio of shelter magazines: Elle Décor, House Beautiful and Veranda. Whether he’s shooting at luxurious locations or curating furniture, fine art and objet for readers, he’s privy to the finest in design.
So it was refreshing to learn the word that most epitomizes his own tables when he entertains at his historic Jackson Heights, Queens home. “Welcoming,” says Reynaert. “I want my guests to feel at home and at ease.” When he is at home, that is. (Fans follow his inspired work and travel via his popular Instagram feed @aspoonfulofbenjamin.)
For a recent dinner, he set a scene that evokes a current Hollywood starlet. “Oh I suppose I would call it Salma Hayek,” he says. “This table is bringing some Mexican Americana influence!”
See how he put together a glam, globetrotting table and learn his secrets to making a magical mix for guests using linens from our tabletop collection.
Reynaert thinks outside the sideboard when setting his table. “It’s always nice to mix in elements from your travels,” he says. “If you’re willing to haul back something from a far-off land, then it’s likely something you do love and that will show when you bring it forward for entertaining.” Here, he used a mixed array of Mexican plates he recently picked up in Merida along with candlesticks from the Paris flea markets, a Fornasetti bread plate from Milan and a ginger jar from Housing Works NYC. While textures and patterns may vary, Reynaert does recommend sticking with a color script. “I always start by thinking about color, and I love a blue and white story with global touches.”
While textures and patterns may vary, Reynaert does recommend sticking with a color script. “I always start by thinking about color, and I love a blue and white story with global touches.”
To play against the colorful Mexican dinnerware, Reynaert selected shades of blue (Navy edging in a scalloped placemat atop a serene Lake blue tablecloth.) “All of these elements really pop against the beautiful tablecloth.” He added depth and interest to the place settings with an array of textures. “I brought in some vintage wood and brass flatware and a few pieces of marble ware that I love,” says Reynaert.
A mix of high-low is key to the balance too. He paired Baccarat crystal with Canvas Home coffee mugs and Spode bread plates with thrift-store candlesticks. The linens add subtle texture as well. “The Calypso collection has beautiful embroidered shell stitched edges and I love how this little detail adds so much warmth and texture to the table!”
The Shape Of Things
With a lot happening at each setting, Reynaert’s arrangements are in a tight palette of white and green. “Peonies, Ranunculus and black and white Anemones have distinct shapes but go together nicely, especially when you throw in some Eucalyptus to add a little bit of extra color and texture,” he says. “And, I’m always looking for an excuse to use black-and-white anemones.” The stylist/editor uses old ginger jars collected over the years to keep the arrangements below eye level but still lush. “Everyone can enjoy but also converse with one another,” says Reynaert.
“Conveniently, our dining table is adjacent to an east-facing window, so the natural light is great for morning through mid-day brunch,” says Reynaert. But he will light a few candles even on clear day to create “an intimate mood.”
Think Ahead & Loosen Up
Reynart shared some other foolproof tips for creating a relaxed, memorable event. First, a little prep goes a long way. “Set everything up ahead of time so you can relax and enjoy the gathering,” he says. He’s a big believer in throwing in something unexpected. “Layer in the things you love, even if they don’t always make sense.” Reynart also attests flowers aren’t the only option. “A simple bowl of lemons can be just as beautiful,” he says. Lastly, “always keep the Champagne flowing.”
Entertaining Style: Lightning Round
Tablecloth, placemats or both? “Both!”
Go to-to entertaining playlist? “Real records. I’ve currently been playing Bill Withers and Shuggie Otis when people arrive.”
Buffet, family style or service? “Buffet. I like everyone to be able to walk around and mingle. People can help themselves as they please and they feel at home.”
Wine or cocktail? “I always like to have Champagne open and a pitcher of fresh squeezed orange juice at the ready. A classic like mimosas keep it simple.”
Dress code or come as you are? "Come as you are."
A good party can never have too many… "Cheeses :)"