It’ll be all White ~ Simple Tablescaping

Thu 15th, Oct, 2009

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G’day lovelies, hope all is well.

The other weekend on my way home, with a boot load of treasure from the crazy Jumble Sale that happens a few times a year round here (you can read about my last visit to it, what I found and a whole day of thrifting here), I passed a shop that I’ve driven by for the last 4 years but never stopped at.  Two reasons for that, one I often see it mentioned in magazines and to say the prices are, ahem, quite out there is an understatement and two there is rarely a park – it’s on a busy road.  But there was a space so I pulled in and parked up.

Now, price doesn’t normally stop me from window shopping, but phew this one blew me outta the water.  I had collected Mr Teenage BC from the beach and he whispered to me referring to an old sideboard/buffet that had been spruced up and painted “mum you should really start a shop, this old thing is $3000!”

Anyway, my not entirely orthodox way of getting the look I want, is to either shamelessly try and copy something for a fraction of the price or thrift it.  The thing is though, for certain things, like accessories I don’t have the inclination to wait and so despite all my thrifty ways I will easily fork out for just the right thing to, you know, add that little touch.


So sitting on the floor was a basket stuffed full of the most divine Frenchy rattan bells.  Absolutely just what I’ve been looking for for outside.  I wanted two to sit on the table on the deck.  I dove in and picked out two.   Unfortunately there was a wee problem.  Each 4 inch high bell was 45 dollars.  Now I knew they wouldn’t exactly be cheap…a nice shop in a nice area with nice things.  But I thought this, quite frankly, comical.  


Perhaps, I may well have lost touch with the real world.  Perhaps there were days before we moved to the other side of the world, had three kids, two houses and a penchant for old antique trunks that I would have paid the knocking-on a hundred dollars for two little bells.  Perhaps you are cringing even that I have the audacity to bring up ‘price’ in the world of Frenchy rattan bells?  Perhaps I should have gaily handed over my cash and fed my children baked beans on toast for the week.


But I didn’t, I showed Mr Teenage BC, whose eyes nearly fell out of his sockets, he I imagine thinking of the computer games or surfboard-saving-up he could do with that and we laughed and swiftly put them back.

200910-All-White-05 200910-All-White-06

So anyway what has this to do with tablescaping (and find more tablescapes today over at Susan’s blog)?  Well I was, to be honest, most disgruntled about those bells and so I thought I would use my rattan food covers for that same look that I so sadly had to leave in the shop the day before.

And rather than set the table, to be very honest, dear readers, I couldn’t actually be bothered and anyway recently we had been to dinner at a friend’s and though I am loathe to sprinkle the words ‘casual entertaining’ around (there is to me, no such thing) she pulled it off just like that.  On a side table were all the bits and pieces, piles of the accoutrement’s of dining, then a simple roasted meat, salad and potatoes and we just sort of pottered to and fro.  Too easy.

I noticed how my kids loved this set-up.  I however, have never been much of one for buffet food – conjuring up dreadful images for me of Boxing Day 80′s lunches where I‘d forgo the platters of turkey and instead fill my plate with too many mini-quiches and chips and end up feeling sick. 

But sticking to the three or four dishes that would regularly be set down on the table there was no room for error.


So after the afternoon spent milling about, doing a bit of gardening and those weekend-things we do, a roast in the oven, we just piled all the apparel on the table…followed by the food, covered with the rattan covers ;-) and we spent much of the evening going back for seconds…and thirds…just pottering.

No bells in sight.



find one of my favourite and ever-so-thrifty tablescapes with tealights and mason jars here , a blue and white beachy one here, and one of my first, ever-so-stripey! ones here.  Other tabletop scapes including one with soft pinks plus an old trunk can be found here, and a dollar-free one here.

And if you want to see what the dining looked like before when we came to view this old cottage, you can see the before and after here

table & chairs  IKEA  :  tablecloth  IKEA  :   rattan foodcover  Target  :  candles  Dollar Store  :  candle holders  IKEA  :   vase  old pesto jar  :  cutlery  vintage thrifted  :  napkins  IKEA  :  

(nope I’m not affiliated to Ikea..but I’d like to be!)


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47 Responses to “It’ll be all White ~ Simple Tablescaping”

  1. Marie says:

    Hello sweet Sarah – I just love your tablescapes. Beachy elegance. I especially love what you’ve done in this post. The simplicity of the pretty white flower and shiny silver candle holder and white candles. Fabulous!


  2. Nice–it looks so clean and serene as always!!

    PS. We have those expensive places in Charleston, SC….but Man, yours was off the wall expensive!

  3. Shelia says:

    Well, here you go again, making pretty! Everything is so lovely! Just love the jar with the flower in it!
    Be a sweetie,
    Shelia ;)

  4. Angie says:

    Enjoying all your posts. The tin can is missing in this one! I’ve picked up a few glass jars in the past couple of weeks at local op-shops. Living on the other side of Oz is just as good for bargains & I keep well away from fancy shops.

  5. m says:

    Sometimes…”simple” is just what the Dr. ordered!!

    m ^..^

  6. Julie says:

    Love Love Love all the white…

  7. Kat says:

    This is very simple but elegant. I love it. I live by the sea as well. Charming. thanks for sharing with me!

  8. ooooooo love it.
    simple…………..is beautiful.

  9. Katrina says:

    Hi there! I was almost having the exact same conversation with my boss and my husband about a 3 seater lounge I liked and it’s ridiculously over-priced $3100 price tag. How on earth???

  10. Marigene says:

    Oh, so elegant in white!

  11. Sandy says:

    I just love all the white, so clean and peaceful looking.

  12. Darcy says:

    I love the simplicity. Very crisp and fresh. I can only imagine how divine the cuisine would look when served on this table!

  13. prettythings says:

    Funny and true as always… you have such a gift for writing about /style/decor/life/things/ that are so relatable and true! Keep writing!!

    Doesn’t it frustrate you to no end when you walk into a shop and everything is overwhelmingly overpriced? Yes, I agree with Beach Cottage Teen – you need to continue with your own finds and salvage them and resell them! But not at inflated prices, of course. You can find a happy medium, although I suspect you’d undercut yourself just to keep everyone happy.

    Email coming your way! Best, Amy.

  14. Lorrie says:

    It’s so pretty and simple. I love the combination of the light and water and glass. Great photography!


  15. Karyn says:

    Love the all white! So crisp and clean ! Thanks so much for sharing your story about the bells, I needed a laugh today! I can so relate! Have a great week!

  16. andrea frost says:

    dear sarah….so totally beautiful in its simplicity…

    Love the rattan food cover..
    love everything really!!

    xx andrea

  17. Hello Sarah! This is gorgeous!!

    The big farmhouse table in our breakfast is too narrow for serving bowls and such. I set the table for big family meals, but we move back and forth to the kitchen island, where I try to make the platters and bowls of food look pretty.:-)

  18. Make that, breakfast room.

    Oh and I know I always seem to set the dining room table, for Tablescape Thursday, more often. That table is great for 4 or 5 folks or just the two of us. When we have family gatherings, there are 12 of us, all sizes and ages. Breakfast room makes more sense.

  19. Brismod says:

    Love the composition of your photographs.

  20. Alison Gibbs says:

    Oh how I hate those expensive shops. It is so frustrating when you see the prices some of these shops charge for things just because of the area their shop is in

  21. Grace says:

    Loved this post…as I love every post…and I enjoyed reading about how you made do with what you had! Isn’t that something we all need to learn to do?! Thanks for more inspiration!


  22. I have no doubt that someday you will find your bells for next to free. : )

  23. Hi Sarah~ ~You do such a nice white look with a bit of whimsy that I love. (sea)
    I do totally agree casual entertaining is not a look I do well. I tend to pull out all the plugs even for a casual dinner for 4. Case in point in todays post at my blog.
    It’s been fun visiting.
    ~ ~Ahrisha~ ~

  24. paige says:

    all the white is so peaceful & serene

  25. bj says:

    The white is still doing it for me…in your sweet little cottage by the sea.
    xo bj

  26. simple and beautiful, love that look~

  27. The biggest thing you have opened my eyes to is the beauty and soothing-ness found in a simple white room. You make me want to scrap my attempted mid-century modern aesthetic and just go all white and beachy throughout my condo!!

  28. Siggie says:

    Great article Sarah!
    I’m glad there is another person in this world that feels the same way about the pricing that goes on in some of these stores. Granted, they are great for inspiration and these people need to make a living too, but 45$ for one little rattan ball?! Geesh. You could always get those ones at Ikea and paint them black?

    I used to live in Fredericksburg, Texas and there are a lot of stores like the one you mentioned there (at least there were when I was there several some odd years ago). Even though they were fun for a stroll through, the stuff was usually way off my budget limit! I often wondered if there were really that many people who could afford to spend so much. I think those stores were the hobbies of the already affluent city folks, because I can’t imagine that they sold very many big ticket items. My sister and I had our laughs about things like an old rickety table (not antique) that my grandma wouldn’t even have wanted to sit in her basement which had a 500$ price tag. I guess that was at the beginning of the shabby chic era. Since then, I have fallen for the look also, but I still wouldn’t pay oodles on anything old that I could eventually get for much less or free and shape up a bit.

    Anyway, before I get too passionate about the subject I just wanted to tell you that your eye for photography and your style of writing keep me coming back to your blog, pure enjoyment!

    Cheers from Germany,

  29. ellen b says:

    So crisp and clean and beautiful. I love your white scapes. Love the sweet flowers in the little jar…

  30. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for stopping by my blog, I just popped over to say hello. Your table looks lovely, and I am looking forward to looking through more of your posts.

  31. Sue says:

    How very classy yet comfortable at the same time. I enjoyed every word and every picture.


  32. What a wonderful post, as always. : ) I just love the old pesto jar vase. So, so pretty!!

    ~ Wendy

  33. Chrissy says:

    O.K I am with you…how do shops like that even stay open,I once went into a shop that I knew was a little beyond my reach but thought what the heck,I saw the sweetest little(and I mean less than 3 inches little) crown,my heart was pounding at the thought of which vignette to put it in,then I saw the price……..just a mere$65…so of course I bought 3 of them …..NOT!!!!!! Loved this post, love your sense of humor and of course you table is lovely!! All the best Sarah, Chrissy

  34. Good for you for resisting the overpriced bells, although, I’m sure they were lovely. Your table is beautiful just the way it is!


  35. Sarah says:

    So crisp and clean! This is a simply elegant table. Love it!

  36. Roeshel says:

    I love your tablescapes, I love your diningroom make over and most of all, I love your stories.
    Thanks for the smile. :)

  37. I know what you mean with those exorbitant prices.I think it’ll be fine without those bells, your have created beauty here just the same.

  38. Your tabletop is divine! Forget those Frenchy rattan bells; what you created is so creative and serene. I tell people all the time that when they are thrift and vintage shopping, karma is always at play. Sometimes we pass something up, feel disappointed, but then the most marvelous mystery occurs: that thing just appears when we least expect it. I see this happen all the time when people buy one thing from a set and then the mate appears half-way around the world! Let’s see where these bells show up again….

    Have a fantastic weekend!


  39. Jane says:

    Sarah, I just love your relaxing style of decorating…it’s gorgeous!


  40. Bonnie says:

    I just love the white petunias in a simply glass jar.

  41. isa says:

    If I could purr, I would. So, so, so lovely!
    xo Isa

  42. Sherry says:

    Fun post. So sorry they were so expensive but I love the tablescape you shared.
    So your having guests tonight? Or was it yesterday or is it tomorrow?
    I am in Texas so I don’t know what day it is there. LOL. I love your blog and love we’re friends now.
    Thanks for sharing your lovely cottage with us who don’t get to live on the beach.

  43. Mary says:

    Thanks for the curtain tips Sarah – I may just give it a go if I can ever stay home long enough! I’m in the North Carolina Mtns. for the weekend – celebrating 47 years in the US today (read my post about leaving England!) – and visiting a special blog friend. We went treasure hunting and I found something I’ve been searching for, yippee!!

    Love the shape of the pesto jar – I save pretty jars too.

  44. Why, oh why, do they charge so much for such simple items? It’s almost frustrating! I love shops like that, but cannot fathom spending so much for something so small.

    Love your tablescape! Have a sun-shiney day!

  45. desiree says:

    See! you don’t really need those cloches ;PP But if you still want them maybe you should look at the Riviera Maison sit http://www.rivieramaison.com there are nice Christmas ones of ratam for less more.

  46. White is the best color when done right! Great photography too!