Courtney Warren is a Texas-based interior designer whose work has been featured in Real Simple, Better Homes & Gardens, Good Housekeeping, Apartment Therapy, and Today.com. She is a frequent consultant on Fox 4 TV’s Good Day program in Dallas, was ranked in the top 3 percent of interior designers in the US by Houzz.com, and starred in the Dallas episode of TLC’sFour Houses. She delights in helping overwhelmed clients create beautiful spaces—and will never turn down a warm chocolate chip cookie or Diet Dr Pepper.
What could be fresher or more fun than a Fourth of July picnic in a beautiful setting? You may be having your patriotic festival at home or away.
This year I’m skipping the rut of “the usual”. You know–hot dogs and burgers, beer and sweet tea with USA flag shorts. I’m going for a little more polished take on festive this year. That’s the kind of event I set up for my family, and I’m sharing with you today how I countered the sizzle of this midsummer holiday with a cool coastal-inspired tablescape.
Old Bison Ranch provided the perfect, outdoorsy venue for our local party, and these beautiful, natural light photos were taken by CJT Photography .. while I, of course, provided the pizzazz of celebrating our great nation and a festive space to engage family and friends that feels a bit more normal than the last few months. Have a look!
We may not get a beach vacation this summer, so my july 4th table settings table was inspired by the coastal blues of sea and sky. I didn’t forget the red, though. Simple pops of red in the floral arrangement and in the tiny baskets of cherries tied my blue-and-white scheme to our flag colors for this patriotic table. I also incorporated elements of an outdoor picnic through the miniature woven picnic baskets offering fresh cherries. I love these adorable mini baskets.
I first laid out a table runner with a gorgeous pattern of aqua and deep blue. Do you think runners have to lay all docile and flat down the middle of your table? Not at all! I shaped this fabric in lovely folds to create a colorful and tactile background for my decorative elements, starting with a stunning blue and white vase (also from The Mint Julep). For that high-brow-meets-low-brow look that I love, I flanked the vase with simple Ball canning jars (mason jars) and filled them with field fresh arrangements.
Aqua glass hobnail candleholders down the center pick out the aqua in my table runner. Don’t you think hobnail glass is sweet? I love that little molded pattern with raised polka dots all over. Did you know it’s enjoying a little revival in popularity just now? Maybe your grandma had a white hobnail candy dish or vase?
Am I the only one who thinks of George Washington when I see cherries? Yes, I know the “I-cannot-tell-a-lie-I-chopped-down-the-cherry-tree” story about the boy Washington is probably legend, but the association is still there. However, there’s no denying the appeal of these bright red fruit favors on my blue and white table. What would you use? Watermelon cubes? Strawberries? You’d be right too!
The floral china pattern pictured above adds elegance to a holiday that is typically drowned out by cheesy prints and loud graphics.
Sure, I like paper goods for easy, but sometimes you just need to throw caution (and melamine) to the wind and use your pretty things for a special occasion. I have no problem with hauling my blue and white crockery out for a picnic. And the adorable light blue placemats–with pom poms, no less? Why not! These lovely but sturdy napkins are from the Etsy shop, Kalkedon Towels. I especially like the look of the primitive wood table with the fancy stuff (textiles, glass, china, goldtone flatware), because I like to mix it up!
There is no reason the Fourth of July should turn an on-trend, fashionable decorator into a cheesy party thrower; Independence Day offers many opportunities to tie in 2020’s biggest décor trends and to forgo the more traditional, tired decorations of years passed. Make your celebration a bit more contemporary, while pulling in a festival theme, by adding tassels, poms, and Americana-inspired pendants.
In my book, sweets are a critical part of any festivity. Aren’t our sugar cookies adorable? Who would have thought of a little mini felt message board for a July 4th cookie? Only Benjie George Skur at GeorgieGirl Bake Shop in Waxahachie! All her creations taste as good as they look, too. And she teaches cookie decorating classes!
Folks, that is one Texas-sized serving board (another find from The Mint Julep)! And did we ever load it up with all the fixin’s for gourmet s’mores: chocolates and fruit and retro candies from Hey Sugar! Candy Company in Waco. (Never fear, North Texans–there are stores in Roanoke and Celina!) Ever made a s’more with chocolate mint cookies and cherry marshmallows? Well, you just don’t know till you try! The new combos are part of the fun on the Festive Fourth.
Easily elevate your vintage theme with striped straws, sweet-shop candies (like those pictured above from Hey Sugar Candy Store), and bottled sodas in repurposed milkcrates like those offered on Wayfair with Dr. Pepper, Coca Cola, and other classic brand designs and Texas Sodas.
Lay out gumdrops, marshmallows, yogurt pretzels and more on a charcuterie board, trading in the cured meats for sweeter treats and a beautiful display! The Mint Julep offers a number of nostalgic, beautifully crafted trays, boards, and risers on their site (several of which are pictured above on the right), each perfect for country-classic decorating. Consider putting together a DIY s’mores bar for kids (and adults who are kids at heart) to create an interactive snack and bonding activity, or asking for their help pouring the icing over a dripping cake. YUM.
Charcuterie started as boards of meat varieties, but they’ve expanded to include charcuterie of any foods you want to mix and display–savory and sweet, crunchy and smooth, salty and sugary. Take your pick!
You can’t always keep the marshmallows out of the fire, but you can try. What is it about a kid and s’mores? Or an adult and s’mores, for that matter? I confess to a certain weakness in that direction. Having my skewers pre-loaded keeps the hot marshmallows coming.
No fire pit? No problem! Any party could be a setting for a s’mores bar! I saw this tabletop s’mores roasting station you could make from $3 worth of supplies from the dollar store. Kids and adults would get lots more than $3 worth of fun and sweet eats from your creation.
Plenty of cold drinks on a hot day is key to a successful picnic. My treats and drinks table continued my red, white and blue theme, right down to the red and blue retro sodas from Hey Sugar! Candy Company. Why settle for the usual when you can have the unusual? Blue cream soda? Sure! I even assigned my gorgeous bottles of French lemonade a role in my table decor.
You may know vintage always figures in my decor and my decorations for any occasion. So of course my nostalgic little red cooler plays its part for my Fourth of July picnic. A tin wash tub would do just as well for a classic drink chill station for vintage Fourth of July decorations.
Speaking of classic coolers, this non-functioning one still can stand in for a serving surface. In fact, I have one of these at home out by my pool cabana for that very purpose.
(Love my old croquet mallets? Croquet may seem old school, but I think it’s a game that deserves to be popular again: all you need is a grassy patch and some highly competitive males to get a lively game going in your yard! Plus it just LOOKS like summer.)
Setting a special table for your tribe is a way of saying “I treasure you and the times we get to have together.” Even serving your condiments in pretty glass dishes can take a table from “meh” to “amazing”. Or rolling napkins and flatware inside a mason drinking jar tied with a ribbon.
Whether it’s a national holiday or a family birthday, I know you’ll find ways to make the setting memorable. Send me a photo of your table to my Facebook page. I’l love to see what you do to make it special!
Courtney Warren Home offers home design services for every budget. Free phone call.