Surrounded by colorful linens, elaborate centerpieces and warm candlelight, guests of The Family Tree’s 13th Annual Great Chefs’ Dinner spent a spring evening in style.  The decorative table settings were new additions to the dinner, allowing local designers to showcase their creativity while helping the organization in its fight against child abuse and neglect.  This year’s “Great Chef,” Todd Gray, prepared a sumptuous five-course meal for all 30 tasteful tables. Here are some of Style’s favorite designs.

Proper English

When asked about her table design for this year’s dinner, Carol Grillo says it was “decidedly English” and modeled after her own dining room at home. Large blue-and-white porcelain beads accented the foxwood centerpiece as well as each place setting, and a French tablecloth of similar design graced the table. The ivy, foxglove and white rose flower arrangements were purposely subdued— “I wanted people to have conversation at that table,” Grillo says. The individual incendiaries, vases and other decorative items were all courtesy of Grillo and Co., the Towson collectibles and antique store owned by her and her husband. [GRILLO AND CO., TOWSON, 410-832-5272]

Spring Ahead

Missy Connolly from Fern Hill Design started with fern-decorated candles on her table, and then worked her way out from those.  “I wanted it all to be very bright and cheerful for the spring and summertime,” Connolly says.  She matched the green on the candles with the summertime-striped tablecloth, and the table took on a pink-and-green theme of its own.  Pink orchids spilled out of the centerpiece, matching the hot-pink sand in the bottoms of the glass candleholders.  Hand-painted and glazed plates, courtesy of Amazing Glaze, orchid napkin holders, and decked-out chairs made the table extra festive. Fabric for the tablecloth and chair covers came from Stroheim & Romann, and all other materials and the flower arrangement came from Connolly’s interior design company and store, Fern Hill. [FERN HILL DESIGN, BUTLER, 410-472-0320]

Far East Feast

Rita St. Clair’s Eastern-inspired table started with an umbrella. She fell in love with the bamboo-and-red lacquer piece in Italy, imagining how perfect it would look looming over a colorful table. The umbrella was originally made in Burma, so “Italy had it shipped from Burma and I had it shipped from Italy!” Each item underneath it marks a stop on a trip to Asia: the centerpiece is a carved bowl from Thailand filled with unusual fruits and flowers; the green, black, gold and red graphic tablecloths are silk saris from India; the wooden fans are from a Chinese market, and the black and red plates come from St. Clair’s own collection. “If I were to have an exotic luncheon in my garden, I would do it this way,” she says. After traveling the world, combing foreign cities for the perfect pieces, St. Clair finished her table with things from home. “Simple enough, isn’t it?” [RITA ST. CLAIR ASSOCIATES INC., BALTIMORE, 410-752-1313]

Paradise Found

The Radcliffe table was all about the jungle, starting with the giant palm leaves underlying the centerpiece and glassware.  “We knew palms were very in this past year, and from there things just kind of fell in place,” says Roz Solin, who worked with fellow Radcliffe staffers Nola Dabratz and Amy Gorback on the design.  To add to the jungle spirit, the three women used Radcliffe giraffe, lion and zebra vases, all designed by Franz.  They even went so far as to use a painted monkey umbrella stand for the centerpiece vase- and promptly filled it with bright green and pink birds of paradise.  Scattered synthetic butterflies completed the tropical table setting.  The gold-adorned china was Lalique, designed by Philippe Deshoulieres, and the flowers came from Myland Farms. [RADCLIFFE JEWELERS, TOWSON TOWN CENTER, 410-484-2900; MYLAND FARMS, STEVENSON, 410-484-5540]

Garden Fresh

Sandy Glover’s table looks freshly plucked from Sherwood Gardens. The tablecloth alludes to a well-groomed back yard with its cream and pale green trellis-like plaid. She chose everything else with the cloth in mind after scalloping its edge to make it more “whimsical.” Pink Roses by Simply Beautiful Flowers were strewn about, growing toward a centerpiece where they mingled with ivy. Candles and glass urns sprouted from the table at varied heights, as if some were planted before others. “It’s more natural looking- like they’d grow in a garden,” Glover says. Finishing touches were the place card holders- little porcelain rabbits bouncing from plate to plate. The charity supplied the white china and silverware, and Glover used her own crisp white linen napkins.[SANDY SITES GLOVER INC., LUTHERVILLE, 410-821-0882]

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