There’s the Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving. Beautiful, perfect. Then there is the Garrity Thanksgiving. Not so beautiful, not so perfect.

In fact, after the last friends and relatives wobble out our door after a raucous day of thanks, my home is more fit for a hazmat unit than a photo shoot. I guess that’s what happens when you pack 30 loud and fun-loving Irish Catholics into a small cottage, open lots of bottles of wine and start telling stories.

So, needless to say, my home was not my first choice for a blog on setting a beautiful table for Thanksgiving. But my friend Lisa’s home is. The day we invited ourselves over to photograph her home, Lisa’s dining room was so lovely that I knew we had to do one last blog about it this fall.

This dining room is gracious yet intimate. It’s the kind of room you want to linger in. One of her secrets is to mix together interesting furnishings and accents, including great antiques she’s discovered on her treasure hunts. One wall of her dining room is filled with a stunning antique cabinet that is packed full of her enviable collection of dishes. I wish Lisa would set up a dish-lending library because I would be one of her most earnest patrons, showing up with my library card to check out stacks of dishes on a regular basis.

Thanksgiving at Lisa’s house is a time for family. Lisa’s husband, Jon, is the chef for the day, preparing rotisserie grilled beef tenderloin, smoked turkey breast and smoked mashed potatoes. While Jon focuses on the feast, Lisa creates a visually stunning table, one of her favorite things to do. That’s where you see her art director skills at their finest.

On the main level of her home, Lisa has stayed true to a warm color palette that blends shades of brown. For her fall table, she starts with a rust colored plaid blanket as a table topper, then layers up with wicker chargers and a mix of dishes.

Lisa is a fanatic about details and she has an exquisite eye, instinctively knowing how much to add and when to stop. In her dining room, your eye dances from place to place, as you try to drink it all in.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at

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