Style Stories

Anne Sage & Elizabeth Messina's Effortless Fall Table with a California Twist

The simple, yet stylish table allowed seasonal foliage to shine.
The gang’s all here.

Co-hosts Anne Sage and Elizabeth Messina prove less is more as they prep for a luminous, relaxed autumn gathering.

 

Anne Sage has been putting her unique spin on interiors, entertaining, and fashion for ten years. An author, stylist, designer, and co-founder of lifestyle publication Rue Magazine, Sage is not one to rest on her aesthetic laurels.

In 2016, she co-founded Light Lab, a photo and event space in Los Angeles where she offers art direction, photo styling, and events for a myriad of leading lifestyle brands.

She recently hosted a dinner with photographer Elizabeth Messina in the minimal, airy space to celebrate Sunday Suppers’ newly launched Sobremesa Global Supper Series. The initiative is meant to celebrate the simple, sublime pleasure of cooking and sharing a meal together. (You can learn more about it here.)

Sage and Messina followed suit with a easy and indeed splendid table for their guests which included photographers Caroline Lee, and Monica Wang, as well as a slew of other creative friends including Molly Schoneveld, Mercedes Curran, Dara Donovan, Pinky Farnum, Laiza Cors, Vicki Kim, and Jessica Taylor.

"One of our favorite things about this gathering was the magical mix of women who attended,” says Sage. “It truly was an inspiring blend of talented, inspiring women (and girls!) of all ages!”

Equally inspiring was the table Sage and Messina set for the celebration using pieces from our tabletop collection. We chatted with her to learn how they put it all together and to steal some of her favorite styling tips. Read on for more than a few ideas for your fall or holiday table.

All images by Elizabeth Messina. 

The custom cocktail, Jardesca Pear Spritz, was created for the meal.
Everyone gathers for dinner at Light Lab’s minimalist space.

Gather Together
 

Sage says the key to any memorable event is the company. “I am all about creating a mix of guests that will make for a fun, positive energy around the table,” she says. “It’s an opportunity to bring together people who may not know each other yet, but who you know will become fast friends at your table.”

As for the rest of the details, Anne recommends a plan to divide and conquer. “Co-hosting with a friend like Elizabeth not only makes life easier, it also makes entertaining more fun,” she says. “I usually cook and plate while Elizabeth plays maître d′ and takes photos, of course.” Sage isn’t shy about involving kids in the mix adding that Messina’s daughter Mykela was an “indispensable extra set of hands!”

The table highlighted a neutral base with pops of black flatware, natural branches and casual glassware.
An arrangement originally meant for the table was moved to a side buffet for “an extra shot of prettiness.”

Set The Tones

 

When it comes to the stylistic elements of the table, Sage likes to gather a mix of vintage and new dinnerware and tabletop accessories and simply play with combinations. For color, she admits she has a thing for neutrals, especially grey. “It’s such a sophisticated color that can be layered with other hues, and it can easily veer traditional or contemporary,” she says. “Here, we went a bit modern, contrasting stark whites and blacks with the various greys to create a clean, crisp look. The shades of blush with the candlesticks and floral arrangements soften things up.”

 

 

 

As far as texture, both Sage and Elizabeth are drawn to linen. “It’s at once refined and elevated, but inviting and tactile too,” she says. “Like the tabletop equivalent of a warm, enthusiastic hug from your favorite aunt who only wears vintage Chanel and YSL.” Sage chose pieces from Matouk’s Chamant line. “It offers all the luxurious appeal of pure linen but has the added benefit of being easy to iron and style a table with...the drape on it is exquisite! We loved that it’s available in multiple shades of grey.”

Using a napkin or placemat as a liner for bread gives the table a cohesive look and adds another layer of texture.
“It offers all the luxurious appeal of pure linen but has the added benefit of being easy to iron and style a table with...the drape on it is exquisite!"

Sage on our Chamant table collection

Sage played with patina and texture with her serve ware as well.
The table was set with favorites from a local artist and added vintage pieces as well.

Embrace Ceramics

 

Sage always loves a study in contrast, so she paired the refined linens with some earthy, raw ceramics. “My absolute favorite ceramics company in the world is Sheldon Ceramics,” says Sage. “It was founded by the incredibly gifted artisan Peter Sheldon.  They are located here in L.A. and I love swinging by the studio to see what’s new. I highly recommend befriending a ceramicist in your area. Like Peter, they may often have seconds from large commercial orders, and you can find unique pieces that take a table from nice to next level.”

“I’d call this table Autumn Romance. It has a quiet fall feeling to it, with the moody grey linens and dried leaves and branches, but there’s a softness to it as well. It reminds me of a foggy fall morning as the sun comes up on the Central Coast of California.”

The table, dressed and ready to share the spotlight with some amazing food.
A guest draped some neutral dried vines along a wall for an organic touch.

Branch Out

 

Sage enlisted friend Pinky Farnum of Lark Farnum to do the arrangements for the event. “As soon as Pinky walked in with some dried pistachio branches, we knew we had to incorporate them into the table,” she says. “It turned out, a simple line of branches down the center of the table was all we needed to create a striking effect.” Farnum also created a delicate install above the appetizer table, winding dried vines along the wall for an organic, autumnal look.

 

 

 

Light The Way

 

According to Sage, you can’t go wrong with classic taper candles. “I love using soft grey or pale blush candles as an unexpected but subtle touch,” says Sage. “The candlesticks are also a great opportunity to make a design statement. Elizabeth always has some fun vintage ones in stock at her shop The Arte Department, and they’re addictive to collect.”

Varying heights of the candlesticks keep the eye moving and add an unexpected design element.

More “Sage” Entertaining Advice

Sage always leaves space around food when serving for a photo-worthy finish.
Your hostess gifts can serve double duty as a hit of pattern and texture on your table.

“The biggest mistake a lot of people make is putting too much food on each plate. To put the spotlight on your beautiful cooking, allow it to breathe on the plate by leaving lots of negative space around each portion. This goes for individually plated menu items as well as shared family-style ones.”

"I love incorporating food into table styling. In this case, we used special artisan chocolate bars by Dandelion Chocolate to make each place setting pop. Not only did the wrapping of the chocolate bars add a lovely touch of pattern and dimension to the table, but guests were able to take the bars home as favors. A win-win.”

Striking black flatware is the perfect foil to vibrant, seasonal dishes.

 

 

 

“Use what you have. The black flatware is my everyday from home. If you’re looking for motivation to make the investment and have really nice everyday things, then here it is. When your day-to-day items are themselves super special, you can call them into service when you’re entertaining—and the table will still have an elevated feel.”  

Say cheese. A simple make-ahead cheese keeps guests occupied and allows you to mingle and enjoy the company.
A straight forward charcuterie tray to for guests to nibble on.

“I always put together a cheese and charcuterie board right before guests arrive. They’re surprisingly quick and easy to assemble, and they always look impressive. Plus they take the edge off guests’ hunger while the rest of the meal comes together.”

Entertaining Style: Lightning Round

 

Tablecloth, placemats or both? “Tablecloth! One and done, know what I mean?”

Go to entertaining music? “Ella Fitzgerald or Bill Evans. A little jazz in the background makes everything go that much smoother.”

Buffet, family style, or service? “Family style, for sure. It adds to the sense of togetherness and camaraderie.”

Wine or cocktail? "Cocktail, absolutely! A custom cocktail that’s tailored to the menu feels extra special. We served a Jardesca Pear Spritz, made with a mix of 1/3 Jardesca Aperitif Wine, 1/3  pear juice, and 1/2 Prosecco. Top with ice and a sprig of thyme."

Dress code or come as you are? "Dress code, absolutely. If you’re going to the trouble of art directing your dinner party, you may as well art direct your guests too. Ha!"

A good party can never have too many…“Belly laughs.”

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