Experts Say

Vary height of food and drinks on buffet table

I like to lay food out buffet-style when I entertain, but find the set-up boring. What are some key servingware I need and how can I decorate the table?

There are no hard and fast rules about what servingware you need as it depends on your style of party, cuisine and number of guests.

Consider using a large serving bowl for noodles, pasta or rice. Use several small-to mid-sized serving bowls for food with sauces, side dishes and bread rolls (place a folded napkin at the bottom of the bowl).

You can consider oval platters for roast meat and square ones for cupcakes, brownies, kueh or cookies.

For appetisers, try displaying them on big cutting boards.

Serving trays with deep sides will help with easy handling and glass drink dispensers can add a chic feel.

  • • Home & Decor and experts in renovation and home decoration answer queries from readers in this series. These questions first appeared in the March issue (above) of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.

The basic rule is to lay food and drinks in varying heights - this makes it easier for guests to see everything at a glance and adds interest to the buffet table.

Use simple wooden boxes (natural, painted white or wrapped in paper) to lift platters and large bowls. Stand breadsticks in a tall vase or pitcher.

Start the buffet with plates and end it with cutlery and napkins as this leaves hands free to hold plates and reach for food. Keep the line moving by packaging cutlery rolled up in napkins.

Save the middle of the table for a centrepiece such as a trio of vases filled with chocolates. Or chuck in a few limau purut (lime leaves) to impart a zesty scent.

You can also gather a few potted succulents and wrap some pretty paper around the pots and tie with string, and raise them on a cake stand.

Blot spilt milk on carpet quickly to reduce smell

I accidentally spilt milk on the carpet and now it smells awful. How can I clean it up?

There is no use crying over spilt milk so, once it happens, act quickly. The longer you leave it unattended, the worse the smell will get.

First, blot as much of the milk as possible by pressing a folded clean kitchen paper towel, hand towel or microfibre cloth over the area. You will want to place your entire body weight behind the press to extract as much milk as possible.

Once the area is dry, pour some water over it to soak the spot and dilute the milk residue. Repeat the pressing with a clean dry towel to draw up the diluted milk.

The next step is to use a carpet shampoo or mix your own cleaning solution of two cups of warm water (never hot as this might set the stain) and one tablespoon of dishwashing detergent. Apply some solution to the stain and dry using a clean white cloth or paper towel.

The smell should be noticeably reduced, but if it still lingers, sprinkle bicarbonate of soda liberally over the area, rubbing it into the fibres. Leave it for a night, then brush it gently and vacuum it out.


Keep panelling to bottom third of walls

Is it possible to add wainscoting details to an existing wall that is wallpapered?

The answer is yes, says Ms Jenny Lewis, managing director of Bode Fabrics and Furnishings, though most contractors will be more familiar with the term "panelling".

Generally, wainscoting occupies the bottom third of a wall (left), so for a room height of 2.6m, the height of the wainscoting (including skirting) should be about 86cm.

Designs with beading give a Hamptons look, but if you are looking for something more modern, she suggests vertical strips of walnut, where the focus is on the beauty of the wood grain.

• Have a decorating or home renovation issue? Write to Experts Say, Home & Decor, Level 7 Media Centre, 82 Genting Lane, Singapore 349567 or e-mail Photos and layouts are non-returnable.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 10, 2018, with the headline 'Experts Say'. Print Edition | Subscribe