August 4, 2021

The most gorgeous tablescapes are not the most expensive ones, but those that feel considered and personal. Guests feel comfortable when they are relaxed, so the aim is to delight and spoil them with stylish informality. 

10 styling tips to help you create your beautiful table:-

1. Moodboards

Think of five or so words that you want to represent the look and feel of your table.

From these words you collate pictures on your moodboard (Powerpoint and Pinterest may be your best friends here). Don’t worry about the words being cohesive or indeed typical party ‘themes’. Be inspired by the season, a mood, your favourite colours, place or restaurant. Consider the location of your table and include that in the mix. You could link accent colours in your tablescape to a feature wallpaper backdrop, a leafy garden setting or a moody dark dining room, to create harmony.

Once you have your five words, images should come to mind. If not, add those key words to search engine images and, bingo, inspiration!

2. Gather your tools

Linen, placemats, napkins, crockery, glasses, vases, cutlery – anything you already own – you might find you have enough without buying anything new. From here we play, and build. Or ‘layer’ as they say. Do not worry about impressing anyone with your finest wares unless that’s your shtick. Look back at your five words. What could you add that would bring it all together?

3. Glass

The ubiquitous coloured water glass is deservedly having its moment. Coloured and/or patterned may bring a welcome lift, or clash of colour to your beautiful setting. They are everywhere at the moment. Petersham Nurseries, Anthropologie, Graham and Green are all good places to start. Same goes for water jugs.

4. Tablecloths

How to bring in warmth, personality and style in one easy step. Lay a cloth, add the tablemats, then play around with all your accoutrements. It’s just like getting dressed. Go with what you love and what suits you rather than copy complete looks. Invest in pure linen if you can for lasting love. Liberty are completely on it, ditto Zara Home.

5. Napkins

So many ways to style these. A haphazardly folded unstarched linen napkin immediately brings an air of nonchalant quality. Perfectly folded napkins with a handwritten menu tucked inside imply attention to detail, or dress with a sprig of aromatic rosemary atop for delicate fragrance.

Matching everything is still on-trend, but if you have a plain coloured table cloth, investing in a patterned napkin is also a cost-effective way to add interest. Chandni Chowk, a secret I’m happy to share, for affordable beautiful designs, and Designers Guild for the best coloured linen.

If you fancy a napkin ring, you may be pleasantly surprised by job-lot offers for silver plated ones on eBay, or hand-make velvet bows to create your own, literally tying in to your colour scheme. Get creative.  We purchased stretchy wooden beaded bracelets for a garden wedding, wrapping three per napkin, creating napkin rings guests all wore home.

6. Lighting

Flickering candlelight at different heights wins. Mix tea-lights in pretty votives with tall dinner candles. Tapered Ester & Erik are my favourite, available in a huge selection of tasteful colours. Mix-up the 32cm & 42cm ones if you can for elegance. Otherwise cut some same length candles at their base to create two to three different heights. Remember unexpected colours make for memorable style and beautiful tablescapes; deep aubergine can be striking, or pale apricot surprisingly charming.

If you are taking your dinner candles outside, invest in storm lanterns, or protective glass-sheaths by the queen of tablescaping, Fiona Leahy. Never use scented candles on your dining table.

7. Flowers

Mock up your table and share your ideas with your florist. If you are doing the flowers yourself, they do not have to be elaborate; multiple bud vases with a few stems and plenty of greenery at varying heights in one or two colour palates never fail. Space clusters of vases unpredictably. You could mix in additional ceramic planters, or for a beautiful tablescape outside, pots of fresh herbs seem to be all the more fitting.

8. Placements

By default, placements are the most personal things on your table, giving each guest their own moment. It is impossible not to feel special when presented with your name exquisitely calligraphed on an individual menu, pinned onto a pomegranate or elegantly piped onto a biscuit.

Revert to your moodboard to lead you. If you do want to keep it simple even playing with colours can help – neon pink ink on jade card, far less corporate than the standard white placement. If you are not confident about your handwriting, commission a professional such as Embellishing The Ordinary or find a host of willing calligraphers on Etsy.

9. Be Practical

So often overlooked, particularly on Instagram. Be mindful of your guests’ comfort and elbow room. A place-setting stacked with a charger, dinner plate and bowl may look great, but in reality, unless you have staff to remove it before you start eating, keep the crockery to what you need at the beginning of the meal. Keep centrepieces low slung and out of eyeline. Consider your menu. If you are planning on sharing platters in the centre of the table, keep decorative objects minimal. No one wants a blousy Peony dipping into their 1961 Petrus! 

10. Whimsical finds

Decant condiments into unpredictable trinkets, present flowers in varied vessels. A beautiful table setting should also be playful and interesting. Albeit not everything needs a purpose. Anything slightly unusual is good. If your mood so fancies, why shouldn’t you have a dazzle of wooden zebras grazing down the table?

The secret to hosting is sharing your warmth, taste, and personality. Should you need encouragement prizing out your creativity, if time is not on your side, or guest numbers exceed your supply and capabilities, please contact us. It would be a joy to help. 


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