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Thanksgiving Table: Michele Varian

by Maxwell Tielman

To celebrate Thanksgiving this year, we’ve invited some of our favorite artists, designers, shop owners and tastemakers to create Thanksgiving table settings with their favorite objects and styles. Last week, we featured tables styled by Matt Armendariz, Spartan, Sweet & Saucy, Jayson Home and Alder & Co. We’re kicking off this week’s Thanksgiving tables with a fabulously dark setting styled by shop owner and designer Michele Varian. — Max

For those of you familiar with my store, you know my sense of style is like the Bloomsbury Group (artists and intellectuals in England during the early 20th century) got some rock n’ roll edginess combined with some humor. Because of a little storm called Sandy, my husband and I have been feeling thankful every day. We spent a week without power and heat and pretty much no contact with the rest of the world (most of our downtown neighbors had fled to the comforts of uptown), and it took a day or so before there was even battery-operated radio reception. We had to do without all of the electric gadgets most of us have become pretty much addicted to. After a few days, we had pretty much recalibrated, and felt as though we were living about a century earlier, during the Industrial Age.

My idea of the perfect Thanksgiving this year is an intimate dinner surrounded by things that are dear to me. Brad and I spent a lot of time during the storm reading by candlelight (which did drive home the fact that I may be ready for reading glasses after using a magnifier) and playing the ukulele, cards and board games.

More images of Michele’s Thanksgiving table after the jump . . .

The vintage plates with the cheeky and seemingly inappropriate portraits of a gentleman wearing a gas mask and the other with a Road Warrior Chica are great reminders that we really didn’t have it so bad during the storm. The plates are by one of my favorites, Beat Up Creations.

We already had the skull candelabra at home, along with sexy dark glasses and plenty of books. The note in the dome reads, “Happiness is nothing more than good health and a bad memory.” – Albert Schweitzer. I’ve already forgotten that we were uncomfortable for a few days. The grim reality is that so many others will continue to deal with the aftermath of Sandy for quite some time.

Using the shelves as a “sideboard” is a great way to keep everything intimate and close to the heat of the candlelight. The little mechanical dog with ball [below] is a wind-up toy, needs no electricity and is genuinely entertaining. The furniture I picked is all very Victorian Industrial, harkening back to a simpler time.

Most items featured are available at Michele Varian.

Items featured in this post:

Hematite Black Cutlery

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  • Michele, could you please share what paint color is on the wall? It is nothing short of glorious.

  • Love your table arrangement and on the shelves. You’ve given me more to think about in terms of table size for my small apt.

  • Not to be mean, I really have enjoyed this feature on Thanksgiving tables but, a table for two, how depressing! Thanksgiving is about gathering and sharing. This one like a Halloween project :(

    • stacy

      i’m sorry this one isn’t your cup of tea. michele and her store have a slightly elegant-but-dark vibe to them so this piece is a good expression of that style. but i understand if it doesn’t suit everyone’s style ;)


  • Love every pieces, the quirky, magical sense…i feel like somewhere in Hogwarts and i love it that way. First I thought the candle holder is in a form of sleepy hollow’s tree. I will definitely check the site. Thanks for the inspiration!

  • Amazing! This could easily be my house on Thanksgiving. I adore all of the dark textiles and the golden heart! So unique! I’m a sucker for anything a little dark.

  • I would rather have Thanksgiving transition from Halloween than collide with Christmas…

    I think this is decadent and beautiful.

  • Stacy, these are my thoughts. Thanksgiving can be celebrated among any amount of people – even just one! We all have so much to be thankful for and I don’t think there are any rules on how many must be present to offer thanks. So, I don’t find that depressing at all. In fact, it is inspiring. Everyone, whether near or far from from friends & family can celebrate. I think the layout is truly fabulous and mysteriously inviting! I love the touch of Steampunk – where can one find that plate? Well done, Ms Varian!

  • Haha. My Birthday is Christmas, so I definitely try to make them separate holidays! We usually follow up Thanksgiving with a big December hoo-ha of a party for my birthday.

  • Gorgeous setting! I’m glad you posted a small table, since it looks like this is going to be my first Thanksgiving with just the two of us…I don’t think that it will be particularly depressing, either – more than anything, I’m thankful for my husband and that we get to share the holiday together :)

  • Maybe not my taste for Thanksgiving, but Michele has serious style. Props to her for her creative take on what can often be a drab holiday. More importantly, could Michele please please please tell us where she got that magnificent candleabra?

  • Absolutely adore this. So beautiful, dark and lovely. Where oh where are those gold anatomical hearts from?

  • Pretty much everything including the plates, anatomical heart and candelabra are in my store and available on my website. I would love for you to check it out!

  • This is anything but depressing…it’s magical and a little mysterious and beautiful. As an American living in France, I now love looking at photos of Thanksgiving tables and celebrations to remind me of the holiday, which is just another working day here. Love the plates!!

  • OMG!! Michele you are AMAZING!! I love everything!!
    I’ve been going to her store for years!! I suggest you RUN don’t walk there!!!!!!!!

  • michele-i adore everything about this. my husband and i are big fans of a darker, earthier, cheeky, whimsical design palette and sensibility, so this is decidedly my cup of tea. thank you for embracing the dark side! well done.

  • Hi Katie,
    I bought the shelf brackets years ago, but the manufacturer is no longer making them. I found out when I tried to get more. Somebody should manufacturer them again,
    their geometric simplicity is genius!

  • Hi Jessica & Ashley
    We sell the table at my store too. I don’t think we have it online, but you can give us a call for more info. We have the anatomical heart too.