Set your holiday table with ceramics in rich, saturated colors pulled straight from a 17th century painting.

Ceramics tablescape decor
Amy Neusinger for Nickey Kehoe
A new line of dishware from Nickey Kehoe embraces color and simplicity.

White plates are an undeniable staple in a well-stocked kitchen. They go with any decor, they’re typically easy to replace when they break, and they don’t compete with the focal point of any meal—the food. For a chef, a plain white plate is an obvious choice because it doesn’t detract attention from the color or texture of what they’re serving on it. For the rest of us, a well-set table with great looking tableware can take some of the pressure off of the actual meal. And create that “wow” factor before anyone touches a fork.

If you’re going for a mood, or looking to mix up your same-old table setting, adding a little deep, earthy color to your place settings can create welcome drama. This season, ocean blues, cranberry red, plum, and deep ochre are some of the colors popping up on plates everywhere you look. Like the best still life paintings of tablescapes from the 17th century, they are dark and brooding, and make even the simplest meal look like a feast.

Of all of the places people search for holiday table inspiration, an art museum may not be the most obvious choice.

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But if you haven’t browsed the permanent collection at the Norton Simon in Pasadena, California, in a while, you may want to make a trip there to see the museum’s impressive collection of European paintings before you host your holiday feast. The vibrant red and cool blues of Louise Moillon’s “Still Life with Cherries, Strawberries and Gooseberries” is one of the prettiest palettes we’ve seen. And it’s easy to find dinnerware from brands like Heath, Crate & Barrel, Nickey Kehoe, and Williams Sonoma to match that mood.

This seasonal collection from Heath Ceramics has a rich palette of plum and cranberry.

Set the table, dim the lights, put a match to some candles, and enjoy the way those shadows make everything—your guests included—look more delectable.

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