A huge part of Cowie's aesthetic is incorporating everyday items into the party set-up, or using things in new and unexpected ways. Examples abound in his centerpieces.
Cowie appreciates the beauty and elegance of flowers for centerpieces (and uses them in many of the parties he plans) but he says that for entertaining in the home, it's just as effective to use fruit, vegetables, nuts or candles as centerpieces. They're very attainable, don't cost much, and stay fresher longer. They can also be extremely colorful.
Cowie uses color as a major element in his party set-ups. Everything is usually tied together through one aspect of the theme, and in Colin's case, this is often done with a color scheme.
Applying his principles, Cowie takes two summer tables and re-invents them for fall. He likens it to changing your wardrobe with the seasons, often by simply accessorizing. "It's bringing fashion to the table," he says.
A summer country table set in natural/cream tones and fibers can be transformed by adding or swapping the following accessories:
A centerpiece brings all the elements together and gives a table its finished look. In this case, Cowie swaps a summery wheatgrass centerpiece with a leaf platter full of limes and coconuts for late summer. For a more fall feel, he opts for a simplistic look with three hurricane candles.
A basic set of china in a neutral color allows you to mix and match at will. Cowie prefers to remove all the tropical green colors from the centerpieces to the napkins to the glasses -- leaving only a light natural color scheme for the fall.
A summer evening table can just as easily be transformed to a fall evening table.
Cowie is not a big believer in full place settings, but instead suggests buying sets of accent plates, either salad or desert plates, from flea markets or during a department store sale. They can help re-invent an existing set of china.
Napkins can also be a stylish and inexpensive accent element. Ethnic prints, such as an Indian print, are very fashionable (as we see with sarongs, etc.), and can now be found everywhere in low price points starting at $2 each.
A simple wooden bowl with nuts, fruits, or pods lends organic tones to a table for that autumn look. Cowie sets the bowl and two tall wooden candlesticks asymmetrically on a table for added effect. The rest of the space is filled with several votive candles he's wrapped in cellophane paper with autumn colors such as burnt orange.