Leah Mae Beatingo-Villacampa credits her chance encounter with tablescaping through an unexpected twist in being a new mom
There's a reason why Leah Mae Beatingo-Villacampa's tables seem so efortless: this Dumagueteña had her roots in working for an events' styling and coordinating company for a decade, and even became an executive assistant for a world-renowned furniture designer. After being a first-time mom, Leah unexpectedly found herself going through post-partum depression and happened to chance upon one of our chic-in-commander Mikka Padua's tablescapism posts. Making beautiful tables for her family and friends gave her a new spark of joy and the rest, as Leah herself said, was history.
Now married to an architect for two years and taking care of a bouncing one-year-old baby boy, Leah determinedly quit her work to fully devote her time and energy to taking care of her husband and son—an honorable feat, if we may.
Get to know this native bag-loving wonder woman through her beautiful tables.
Breakfast with friends made prettier
What does your typical day look like?
My day's all about taking care of my little one and the love of my life, of course. I do mostly everything for my kid from changing nappies to bath time and putting him to bed at night. I'm moving round the clock. I find it a privilege to be a stay-at-home mom and taking care of my family.
I make sure though, that I get to breathe once in a while by setting up a merienda date with friends, video calling my BFF who lives in the metro, or running errands like groceries with a quick side trip to some surplus shops that sell home improvement items—my happy place, as I call it.
Do you have a favorite or specialty recipe that you love serving for guests?
I honestly don't have culinary skills. I'm not a kitchen expert, although, surprisingly my guests loved my bruschetta and mango banana chia pudding that I made during our wedding anniversary merienda.
Luckily, my hubby (I'm proud to say) is absolutely incredible in the kitchen. He has the culinary prowess. He can turn simple ingredients into mouth-watering dishes.
I guess it's a perfect combination of some sort. I do the tablescaping and he does the food magic. What a remarkable way to bond, isn't it? We both believe that the fondest memories are made and gathered around the table.
Cake or ice cream?
Definitely ice cream! Double dutch is my ultimate. I add cornflakes to make it crunchy.
What tips do you have for breaking the ice when you have guests meeting each other for the first time?
Place cards and fun facts combined are effective ways to ensure that conversations flow 'round the table. As the host, I get to arrange interesting people who aren't acquainted with each other, and place cards are the key to that.
Upon the guests' arrival, voila! Surprise them with a fascinating activity to get them going and ecstatic for the night. Have the guests jot down a fact about themselves and put it in a fishbowl. Ask each one to pick a fun fact and match it to a guest. Believe it or not, this will certainly stimulate good conversations with someone new.
What’s the best tablescape bargain you’ve ever gotten?
Purchasing slightly damaged plates and saucers at shops at a discounted price is one of the best bargains for me. I choose the ones that still look pretty on top despite the hidden chip at the bottom. I don't mind at all.
Trading or bartering is also my thing. I got these local and amazing native placemats in exchange for my preloved outfits.
I've also received some lovely Japanese ceramics for canned goods and broom. Isn't that a good bargain?
Leah's table setting hack: use a huge scarf or shawl as a table cloth
Who are your dream dinner guests and why?
The best of experiences come from people who walk ahead of us, and I'm one who marvels in beautiful life stories of other people especially from these three dream dinner guests: Iris Apfel, Mikka Padua, and Michelle Lao.
My table will not just be fancy and full of delectable dishes for these three women. It will also be filled with wonderful stories, narratives, and poetry of how a life should be well-lived with the purpose of inspiring one generation after the other.I can just imagine what a night that would be!
What’s on your dinner party playlist?
My playlist would always be contingent to the dinner mood. My ideals are bossa nova, lounge, and jazz music.
A privilege and an honor: taking care of her husband and child is Leah's greatest gift in life
How do you come up with your table centerpieces?
Whatever I can find in my cupboard that's comely and fitting. I have also learned that fruits with variety of color are a great mix on the table. To add to that, I find it very interesting and cost-efficient to pick flowers and plants from the garden as decorative centerpieces. Sometimes, it can be all about organic chic inspo.
Give us five design blogs or people that you follow on Instagram.
I have a handful of daily doses on Instagram. Of course, Mikka Padua and Michelle Lao. Then there are Pam Quiñones, Olivia Palermo, Chriselle Lim, and Iris Apfel.
Whoops! That's more than 5! 😉
What are your favorite places to shop for tablescapes?
I go for local most of the time. I shop at this department store where they sell affordable and unique tablescapes. My principle is your table spread can look dramatic and inviting without burning a hole in your pocket—though I do splurge sometimes.
A quirky Korean night setup for Father's Day
Favorite hosting hack?
I have tons that I share with friends through my FB and IG accounts. For now, let me indulge you in one or two of my fave hacks.
I'm kind of frugal and the perk is you become creative and stylish with your table setting. Living in a city where materials are curbed, most of the time you are compelled to squeeze your creative juices in order to come up with remarkable pieces for your table.
One hack I'm fond of doing is dressing up my table based on my scarf design and color. (Yes, I do use scarf to glam up my table, always a fave!) Handkerchiefs come in handy, too. I also utilize those as table napkins or placemats.
Working on a little project for myself now—another hack would be upcycling. Used dresses with popping prints can be turned into placemats. This idea is making me giddy and brings a huge smile to my face. 😁
I have very strong feelings about this and I'm elated to have another gathering, pulling together my family and friends, making memories, and laughing our guts out. Nothing warms the heart more than delighted smiles.
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