6 Rules for Getting Swoon-Worthy Holiday Style from Athena Calderone

Here, the stylish tastemaker offers a lesson in designing a holiday-inspired tablescape.
Athena Calderone

A self-proclaimed “visual creature by nature,” Athena Calderone fittingly named her site Eye Swoon. A creative destination for all things aesthetically pleasing, Eye Swoon is at the top of our reading list and a constant source of inspiration. We’ve fallen for her taste in food, fashion, furnishings and — most recently — 1stdibs finds. After admiring the beautiful spaces she curates (as a designer) and enchanting tablescapes she pulls together (as the consummate hostess), we wondered, “Just exactly how does she do it?” Kind enough to take a moment from the frenzy of the holiday season, Calderone shared with us some of her secrets to entertaining and overall style. Read on for inspiring images and tips to help make your own guests swoon.

On Extremes

Athena Calderone in office

“I tend to like extreme in the interiors I design, the food I create and the way I dress. I crave a strong juxtaposition in most everything I do. This reliance on tension — the pairing of a sophisticated piece with something playful — is reflected in my personal style as well.”

On Ambience

Athena Calderone setting table

“Whenever I design a tablescape, I look to the season, nature and my surroundings for inspiration. Pick a specific palette. Let your floral arrangements be the starting point and carry their colors through to your linens and other decor elements, like candlesticks. This year I will stick to white berries and silvery greens on the tabletop — these hues will inspire the sage-toned napkins and candlesticks I select.”

On Nature

table setting

“Citrus, berries on branches and pomegranates are a wonderful way to incorporate color and nature to your tabletop. I also love to include a touch of greenery to each place setting. Herbs like rosemary act as a wonderful fragrant element that is also super simple to execute.”

On Details

Athena Calderone

“I always add a touch of nature to each place setting. A sprig of holly or a rosemary wreath around your napkins make for simple and beautiful additions. Consider wrapping each plate and napkin with a velvet ribbon. Our meal is a gift, after all, and velvet is so chic for the holidays.”

On Mood Lighting


“Five minutes before your guests are due, run around the room lighting as many votive candles as you can. Candlelight is not only the most flattering light but it makes it appear as if you’ve got it all under control — even if you don’t!”

On 1stdibs

living room

“1stdibs has educated my eye and informed my knowledge of design. After perusing the site for countless hours, I have absorbed the craftsmanship and have been influenced by the elegant lines of so many notable furniture designers.”

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