Design Recipes: These centerpieces are quick, elegant

Cathy Hobbs
Tribune News Service

When it comes time to create the perfect table for your family and friends, an inviting centerpiece is often the icing on the cake.

But beyond cut flowers in a vase, a number of items can make a centerpiece pop. When looking for ways to perk up your table, from wood to metal, sand and succulents, allow simplicity and thoughtful presentation to be your guide.

Here are some creative ideas for quick and elegant centerpieces.

Go organic. Teak is a very popular wood right now and serves as the perfect foundation for a beautiful centerpiece. Consider filling a wood bowl with elements such as cabbages or apples.

Think metallic. Silver, gold and brass are popular finishes for items such as bowls and candleholders. Consider mixing metallic into your centerpiece, such as small metallic objects with more organic materials such as moss or stones.

Consider using sand. Sand is a great vessel filler. Try filling a clear vessel with pure white sand and adding a single flower or succulent on top to create an effortless yet elegant centerpiece.

■Try unconventional items to present your decor. From using a large candleholder to hold succulents or flowers to using wine glasses to display floating candles, let creativity be your guide.

Consider herbs. Herbs are pretty, affordable and a creative way to bring the outdoors in while also incorporating fragrance. Next time you are entertaining, why not have a long, low clear vessel filled with fresh lavender, rosemary or dill?

Experiment with shape, size and height. One way to create interest is to make vignette groupings. Some of the most successful are often done in groups of three. In your grouping, don’t be afraid to mix and vary items by size, shape and height.

Don’t be afraid to mix materials. Mixing materials can be one of the best ways to add interest.

Bring the outdoors in. From sand to stone, interesting twigs, branches and even moss, natural elements can serve as beautiful standalone centerpieces or foundations.

Experiment with color. Black is often an overlooked color, often considered to be drab or depressing. In reality, black can add luxury and elegance to an environment.

Use single items. So often, people think a centerpiece needs to be big and over the top. Sometimes the strongest statements can be made with a single item or stem placed in a beautiful bowl or vessel.

Cathy Hobbs, based in New York City, is an Emmy Award-winning television host and a nationally known interior design and home staging expert with offices in New York City, Boston and Washington, D.C. Contact her at, or visit her website at