Benjamin Reynaert might have a decade of styling experience, but his simple philosophy for creating a beautiful dinner table is one anyone can follow. “Have fun and love everything you buy,” says the New-York based editor and stylist, who draws inspiration from the city’s eclectic mix of cultures, traditions and styles when building his own tables. With an eye for interesting patterns and pops of color to add depth to natural and neutral foundations, Ben believes everyone can enjoy stylish living by trusting in what they love. We couldn’t agree more!
Ben’s a pro at creating eye-catching tablescapes and interiors, having styled for publications like Martha Stewart Living, Traditional Home and One Kings Lane. Now you can catch his work in the pages of Hearst Design Group’s three home magazines, Elle Decor, House Beautiful and Veranda, where he’s a design + market editor. For a look into this New Yorker’s day-to-day life, travels and everything that inspires him, follow Ben on Instagram: @aspoonfulofbenjamin.
In the first of our new Style Guides series, join Ben at the dinner table to discover his expert home décor tips—and see how he used Marigold Living linens to create a chic, all-seasons table.
Fusing Patterns, Bending the Rules
“Try keeping adjacent patterns at different scales, mixing large and small designs to help keep the eye interested”.
Q: Are there any rules to follow when mixing and layering patterns, or do you just rely on your trained eye and styling experience?
A: I don’t often prescribe to “rules” when it comes to mixing and layering patterns, but I do like to consider the scale, color and texture – try keeping adjacent patterns at different scales, mixing large and small designs to help keep the eye interested and moving around your space.
Add In a Pop of Color
“A great pop of red or orange is always welcome in my book!”
Q: Is there such a thing as too much color and pattern, or do you subscribe to “the more, the merrier” philosophy?
A: It’s always nice to maintain some balance in your space, so if you have a dominating color in your art, it’s nice to reference in small touches throughout the space in décor or textiles. That said, a great pop of red or orange is always welcome in my book!
“Try bringing in blooms and branches you might not necessarily go toward and build a new palette from there.”
Q: Do you have any good tips for an instant table update or refresh?
A: I’m always inspired by what’s in season at the flower market. If you’re looking to have a fresh updated table this season, try bringing in blooms and branches you might not necessarily go toward and build a new palette from there. Mother nature never fails!
Build a Solid (or Patterned) Foundation
“Splurge on a nice foundational tablecloth that will work well in all seasons.”
Q: What should one look for in table linens that can transition from casual to formal or day to night, for those who may not have the space or budget for multiple settings?
A: I always mix high and low when it comes to table linens. I like the table to feel collected over time and layered. Buy linens you love and splurge on a nice foundational tablecloth that will work well in all seasons. It’s so easy (and less expensive!) to pick up and collect new patterned napkins, naturalist and botanical themes can work well for casual daytime entertaining and embroidered designs and wovens can be pulled out for evening dinners with friends. I always mix and match anyway, so the important thing is to have fun and love everything you buy.
Q: What’s your number one must-have for a table? Is there just one?
A: Hands down, I must always have fresh flowers for the table.
Infuse Cultural Influences
Q: Maximalist decor has certainly had a big resurgence recently. What is the best version of that in your opinion? How does it expand beyond table linens?
A: The most successful maximalist spaces incorporate different cultures, traditions and styles, like the best neighborhoods in NYC, there’s inspiration everywhere from art, textiles and fashion. A fabulous block print can come out for a festive and special dinner party on the table but can also live with you year-round as drapery or cushions.
Bring Heritage Indian Designs to Freshen Up a Space
“Bringing in heritage Indian designs can freshen up a space by showcasing a new way to mix color.”
Q: How best can one work with heritage Indian designs and colors in an American home?
A: Bringing in heritage Indian designs can freshen up a space by showcasing a new way to mix color. I love adding a touch of mustard yellow with woven placemats to the classic red/green Janvi design. It’s a new combination that I’m starting to see a lot more of in the market.
Pattern and Color for a Minimalist
“I think a little pattern here and there in more functional items, like a set of everyday napkins or a cozy blanket is a great way to bring pattern and color into your home as these are items you will actually use.”
Q: For someone who is shy of using colors and patterns and leans more towards a minimalist style, how would you recommend they incorporate some elements of colorful heritage textiles?
A: I always encourage people to trust in what they love and to incorporate pieces that will encourage stylish living. It’s more important for me to see someone living well with the things they enjoy vs trying to force something that might not be natural. That said, I think a little pattern here and there in more functional items, like a set of everyday napkins or a cozy blanket is a great way to bring pattern and color into your home as these are items you will actually use.