Holiday Hosting with Heather French

Thanksgiving is almost here, which means holiday hosting season is in full swing! Bring on the festive decor, the elaborate tablescapes, and decadent recipes. We chatted with one of our favorite designers, Heather French, about her gorgeous dining room and best holiday hosting tips.

Tell us about yourself!

Hi! My name is Heather French and I am the founder and principal designer of French and French Interiors. I run the firm alongside my husband, Matt French who is our Director of Business Development and Lead Product Designer. We’re based out of Santa Fe, New Mexico but take on both residential and commercial projects nationwide. We’ve been taking on more boutique commercial projects lately that we are absolutely loving and looking forward to more opportunities like this in the near future.

How would you describe your design style?

Classic and folky. I try to always focus on this fun, vibrant aspect of design where everything is layered, patterned and colorful. Hard to describe in a few words! I always listen to what the client has to say, what colors they’re interested in, what existing art they have to pull from, but a key focus for me is to always create spaces that make you feel comfortable and at ease. I like to consider this as the foundation to my design and then create interest with layered patterns, especially through different fabrics.

You recently designed a gorgeous dining room featuring our Sophie Dining Chairs! Walk us through the design process of the chairs.

This dining space is actually in my own home that we’re in the process of putting final touches on! We’re nearing the end of our remodel and the ultimate goal is to feature a floral wallpaper on the ceiling and then red built-in shelving surrounding the dining table. So, the design for the chair ultimately pulled from the ceiling wallpaper we’ll be bringing into this space. I wanted a pop of red, so we brought that in through the piping and in back fabric and decided to add an Indian inspired floral to pull the red theme from throughout the rest of the dining room. We finished it off with a blue cotton that’s really quite fun and beautiful. 

I think the fact that Coley Home offers so many custom upholstery options is great because you really don’t see that very often. To be able to have so many beautiful options available in house is just incredible.

The Sophie Dining Chair in Frenchie, Rose Petal with an Italian Blend, Caribbean Blue Contrast Outback and Como, Rockstar Welt.

Where are some of your favorite places to source table decor? Candles, tablecloths, napkins, china, etc.

I like Mrs. Alice quite a bit, the cabbage plates are from her. And then, Kit Kemp is great for napkins and other table linens. And the rest of the plates are all Wedgwood. I love to mix and match. I’ll go on Etsy to source things like hand-painted candles and then play with florals and seasonal produce from the local market to top off a tablescape.

Do you have a go-to formula for the perfect holiday table?

Making it feel natural and homey, not too pretentious. You want people to really linger and hang out. Also, there is a difference between the table that you actually eat at vs. one styled to be enjoyed from a distance. So I have two different ways I like to style. If it’s just for decor - I make it a bit more flouncy, but if we’ll be eating at the table, it’s a lower floral and definitely lots of candles. 

Any tips to eliminate stress when preparing to host friends and family?

Yes! I’m a big believer in hosting whether you’re ready for it or not. And I think these days, it’s actually quite rare to be invited over for dinner, people often just choose to go out. Over the past few years we’ve developed a Friday night crew where every Friday night we’re rotating at someone's house for dinner. Sometimes it’s a really beautiful, lovely dinner and sometimes it’s pizza or some other take-out. It’s more about getting together and less about the fancifulness of it all. If I can pull off something fully styled and home-cooked, I certainly do. I think it’s really special to eat off your nice china and share those moments but I think my biggest tip is to just do it. And if that means a pint of ice cream on the table and some pizza, everybody is thankful for that, no matter what.

Favorite Thanksgiving recipe?

My grandmother did these stuffed mushrooms that were simply incredible - lots of lemon and garlic, stuffed with Italian herbs and seasonings. And I’m gluten free now, so I’ve found a great gluten free version to continue the tradition in our home.

Go-to dinner party playlist?

Whatever Matt puts on!*
*We asked Matt, he says “global synthy disco funk or big bass relentless rhythms… It depends though, really. ;)”