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Setting the Scene: A beautiful table makes every meal a star

From Taste Santa Fe, January 3, 2008
Special supplement to the Santa Fe New Mexican
by Heather Wood

Whether you’re setting the dinner table for a celebratory feast or a simple supper, much of the pleasure of dining comes from the way the table has been set. From the hustle and bustle of a busy weekday breakfast to a long, leisurely Sunday brunch, the table is often the sole place that family and friends gather with any regularity. Setting a beautiful table is like painting a fabulous backdrop for the star of the show, the food that’s been lovingly prepared.
Carol Olmstead, a Santa Fe-based Feng Shui practitioner and owner of Feng Shui For Real Life, has the following tips for creating a successful dining experience, whether for two or 20.

“You are what you see,” Olmstead says. “If your everyday pieces are chipped, it’s time to replace them. Use the good stuff when you set your table. What are you saving it for?”

To create a romantic table, Olmstead suggests setting two places next to each other, one across from one another. “Remove the other chairs,” she says, “so it’s intimate, just for two. You can arrange flowers, candles, and knickknacks on the ‘empty’ end of the table. Use colors that create heat, the Fire Element: reds and pinks are love colors, and to create lively conversation use orange.”

Difficult dinner guests? Family holiday dysfunction? Olmstead suggests seating the most challenging guest closest to the door. “The person who we seat closest to the door is typically the first to leave a gathering,” she says. “If your family tends to argue a lot, invite an even number of guests, keep the lights low (Fire Element) and use colors like gold and brown and green (Earth and Wood Elements) which are calming and grounding.”

You may also want to look at the shape of your table to achieve a particular harmony. “The shape of a table affects the energy in the room,” Olmstead says. “Square tables are the earth element, with an equal amount of space on each side of the table. Round tables invite conversation; everyone has equal say because of the circular shape. Rectangular tables have power seats at the ends. The person facing the entrance to the room has the most control.”

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