Setting the season


2012DecJan_HolidayTable01By looking to the natural beauty of the Pacific Northwest, Alissa Pulcrano and Leela Brightenburg, principals of Bright Designlab — an interior design studio with retail space in Portland’s Pearl District — designed a tabletop with clean lines and textural intrigue in traditional holiday colors.

2012DecJan_HolidayTable05 Two levels of green ferns placed in clear glass Labwear anchor the white table runner, which creates a vibrant centerpiece that delicately brings the outdoors in (ferns thrive in Oregon’s lowlands this time of year). The theme is carried through to the horizontal space with fronds tucked between flatware and each napkin.

Green meets red with the fresh, local pears placed among the “vases” as well as the pears in bowls tied with place cards. “We wanted to create a holiday feeling without having expected elements like berries and evergreens,” Brightenburg says. Besides, she adds, the luscious fruit could become a palate cleanser at the end of the meal, either as whole fruit or slices on a cheese board.

Adding any kind of fresh produce or other natural objects, from acorns to apples, adds a sense of life and vibrancy, which helps soften more modern settings with clean lines. “Then throw in a twist of the unexpected,” Pulcrano says, “Like Labwear or the vintage ceramic owl that peeks out from the center.”

// Photos by John Valls







Leela Brightenburg (left) and Alissa Pulcrano

// Photos by John Valls




  • Farm table made from reclaimed Oregon barn wood by Hammer and Hand, which shares a retail studio with Bright Designlab. The two companies also have collaborated to design a line of modern furniture.
  • Gray wine goblets from Canoe in Portland
  • “Cellar” plates and bowls from Macy’s
  • Malmo flatware by Kate Spade
  • Ferns available at local nurseries
  • Synergy cloth napkins from West Elm 
  • Runner handmade by Leela Brightenburg using textured white cotton from Josephine’s Drygoods in Portland
  • Lab beakers, other lab products from Bright Designlab on NW 10th Avenue in Portland




2012DecJan_HolidayTable07Contemporary Holiday Luxe

With a photo of a turquoise agate as a starting point, Portland interior designer Lora Coburn of CoCo Designs created a muted, festive color palate with strong bursts of color. “It’s a non-obvious holiday table that’s got plenty of shimmer and glitter,” she says. “Besides, I always like to use gold if I can get away with it.”Various shades and shimmers of Coburn’s favorite metallic hue show up in faux pears, the squat vases holding the floral centerpieces and the table runner. Decorative backdrops to her handmade wax-stamped place cards are made from two kinds of candleholders — gold and teal orbs and ceramic roses — with a tuck of gold-specked fabric in the center.The table’s main centerpiece is a ceramic lamp ringed by fresh hydrangeas and fitted with a candle inside the shade. “I’m big on mixing and matching, and using standard objects in creative ways,” Coburn says. “Using these kinds of unexpected objects will make a bold statement on the tabletop, which ultimately will make your party more memorable.”Creamy roses and white hydrangea, designed by Sammy’s Flowers, add even more texture to the center of the table. Plant accents from the floral arrangements are carried into folded napkins, which, when it’s time to serve food, will be swapped out for flatware.

//Photos by John Valls






Lora Coburn

//Photos by John Valls





  • Fluted gold chargers and ivory dinner plates from Cost Plus
  • Fiesta Turquoise Collection plates from Kohl’s
  • Lustre Ivory napkins from Crate & Barrel
  • Flowers by Sammy’s Flowers in Portland
  • Ivory ceramic flowers from Michaels
  • Waterfall Blue Stemware from Pier 1
  • Mercury glass tealight holders from Jo-Ann Fabric & Craft Stores
  • Lamp base from HomeGoods and lamp shade from Target
  • Gold vases (with flowers) from Jo-Ann Fabric
  • Taper candle holders, gold pears, runner and tablecloth from Lora Coburn’s collection (