Summer is almost here and after not seeing friends and family for a long time, you’re probably ready for barbecues, dinner parties, and homemade outdoor brunches. After a long period of social distancing, many of us are looking forward to socializing again. There’s no better way to do this than serving a delicious meal on a beautiful table that’s properly set, accessorized, and frankly Instagramable.
Whether you’re having a small backyard soiree or your extended family over for lunch, designing a tablescape that reflects your style and personality is a great way to start making new memories now that we are all moving towards better times. Whether you’re got great DIY skills or want to know some quick shortcuts to create an elegant look, here are the best tips and ideas for designing tablescapes this summer.
Where To Begin
Designing a tablescape can feel complicated, but it’s easy once you choose the basic elements. According to Chrissy Horton of Horton Lane, you only need a few things to get started. “The basics of any tablescape start with the dishware and flatware. Neither have to be expensive,” she says.
Horton likes the minimalist yet chic Corelle White Dinner Plates. “They are the same plates I use daily for every meal. I don’t believe you have to have a particular set of cutlery or dishware dedicated for hosting.” she explains.
However, she suggests swapping out standard silver flatware for gold. “I feel gold gives the table a pop of elegance even in the most casual settings. Again, these do not have to be expensive.”
Horton likes disposable gold hardware from StockYourHome. “They look real and make clean up much easier at the end of the day.” However, if don’t like disposable utensils or your meal requires something more substantial, CB2 makes a reasonably priced gold flatware set.
As for the basics, Horton says you can’t go wrong with a plain white table cloth and three different types of cloth napkins. “Choose two different solid colors and one set in a print reflective of your style. I purchased this blue and white gingham napkin set for myself.”
For an extra special look, use a charger under each plate. “Chargers are a great way to set the tone for the event. I use these gold chargers for more formal events, and for my more casual occasions, I use these rattan ones. Out of all the tablescapes I have created, I only use these two types of chargers,” shares Horton.
Lastly, add a centerpiece and or plate garnish. “This doesn’t have to be expensive. One of my most popular tablescapes involved a centerpiece made up entirely of natural items.”
“I created a garland using branches from my citrus tree and decorated it with various cut-up citrus fruit. I then used the remaining fruit as a plate garnish to give each place setting a unique pop! I used this same method over Christmas with grocery store poinsettias and holly!”
Invest In A Few Key Table Staples
If you’re getting ready for a summer of parties, you may want to invest in a few key pieces to use at every event. The two best examples of this are linen napkins and napkin rings which automatically make any table look more sophisticated. “I always prefer a linen napkin with a napkin ring, as opposed to a disposable napkin. A napkin and napkin ring can tie the entire look together because it sits on the center of the plate,” says artist and designer Elizabeth Sutton.
She suggests investing in one staple napkin ring set that’s neutral, and rotating out different napkins for fun, from colorful to patterned to white. “That’s precisely why I ended up manufacturing my own. I’m a napkin ring collector, but they’re all novelty. My gold and silver butterfly napkin rings serve as a perfect staple, and I play around with colorful napkins. They literally match everything. I mix and match the gold and silver together as well. For me, they complete all of my tablescape looks,” she says.
While you can buy inexpensive linen napkins from places such as Wayfair, you may also want to opt for having them monogrammed or embroidered to create a look that’s truly unique to your home. Coley has a variety of napkins with different embroidery options, styles, and thread colors. This allows you to create a signature go-look every time you have guests over.
Make A Statement
Candy artist Robyn Blair Davidson recently launched the by robynblair Hostess Collection, which is her first foray into table decor. This line has a beautifully packaged Cake Serving Set as well as candy-colored placemats and coasters.
These are the perfect way to bring color and personality to your table. “I’m all for making your dinner party vibrant with a splash of color. My new favorite way to add some whimsical fun to your tablescape is with my colorful placemats and coasters in a chic abstract lollipop pattern.”
Filling vases with your favorite candy is a great way to bring your personality to the table. Davidson likes the vases from Ann Sandra. The swirls on the Orrefors Graphic Vase coordinate with the swirls on the placemats. The Simon Pierce Highgate Heart Bud Vase is another option that can add a touch of sophisticated whimsy.
Lastly, Davidson suggests placing beautifully packaged bottles of refreshments and pre-pouring everyone a glass before the party begins. This cuts down on needing to leave the table to get drinks and adds a pop of color. Davidson’s favorite bottle is her Spritzy Rosé.
Add Old Fashioned Charm
No one knows more about adding a dose of old-fashioned charm to a table than Ariel Davis who the founder of The Brooklyn Teacup. Does this by combining the familiar and the unexpected or intriguing. “This way, guests feel at ease but also have something to ooh and ahh over to make the occasion feel special. For the holidays, for example, my mom always uses the family china but changes up other aspects of the décor, like chargers, napkin rings, runners, candles (you name it, really!)—to keep the table feeling fresh and exciting,” she says.
Another way Davis likes to add something new to a tablescape is to incorporate seasonal elements such as a sprig of fresh herbs to drinks or creating centerpieces using local flowers from the farmer’s market.
Additionally, she is a proponent of place cards. “Place cards are another good area for adding seasonal flair. For fall holidays and gatherings, our family creates ours using leaves, acorns, pinecones, mini pumpkins (and more) to make individual guests feel welcome and to get them in the spirit of the occasion” she explains. Place cards are also a stealth way to introduce guests that may normally not have an opportunity to get to know each other.
The Brooklyn Teacup’s cake stands which are made from upcycled China make a great addition to any table. These stands aren’t just for cakes. They’re also useful for appetizers and amuse-bouches.
Plants have been a major design trend in recent years and are a cool modern addition to any tablescape, whether the event is large or small. Plants were a key decor element used during the recent Caliwater Escape event which took place at the Mojave Moon Ranch in Joshua Tree, California.
Founder of The Influence, Alexandra Lasky designed the tablescapes and decor. She used plants to capture the essence of the location and Caliwater’s cactus branding. “Being that Caliwater’s main ingredient is prickly pear cactus, utilizing succulents, greenery and cacti was a natural choice,” she tells me.
Lasky also notes that plants are great for warmer climates and a far better alternative to flowers which will easily wilt in the heat. This makes plants a particularly good way to accessorize any table in the summer. You can also opt for faux plants and re-use them in your home as decor. For example, Terrain has a lovely potted faux succulent that’s fairly inexpensive.
Once you’ve chosen your plants, use the pots as a guide for the colors of the rest of the decor. “We created tablescapes with a variety of ceramic and clay pot planter designs in grays, terracottas, and neutral tones, with rotating green plant styles for both symmetry and eclectic mixture.”