Stylist Tips for Setting a Beautiful Table
With the holiday season fast approaching, many of us will be entertaining more than ever and who doesn't want their tables to look top-notch? In light of this, I rounded up some design friends with some killer taste who consistently inspire me with their style and creativity. I thought it would be fun to pick their brains for their top tips on how to set and style beautiful tables. I intentionally chose people that have different design aesthetics. I did this with the hope that readers could see how their advice translates into different scenarios that may more closely align with the style of their own homes. Each of my guests has thoughtfully provided you with three helpful and easy-to-replicate tips and tricks for setting a stylish and elegant table along with some seriously stunning photographs to illustrate their points. I hope you enjoy!
Ansley Whiteside of Turner and Moss Vintage Home
Ansley is the owner of Turner and Moss Vintage Home in Columbia, SC and has some of the most stunning vintage finds in her weekly Instagram sales that I've ever seen. She's recently expanded her business to include party rentals from her expansive vintage dish and glassware collection. She's mixes patterns and textures effortlessly and takes a no holds barred more-is-more approach to her tablescapes which I can't get enough of. And I love how updated she can make vintage finds feel! Here are Ansley's top three tips for setting a beautiful table:
1. Mix vintage & newer pieces for a fun eclectic look. By mixing it up and using more modern fabrics with vintage china and glassware, your table will not only have a fun look that's totally you but it's also a great way to incorporate a pop of color onto a table. Especially if you're going for a particular color scheme!
2. Don't be scared to use pieces in unexpected ways! Champagne buckets are great for keeping your favorite bubbles chilled, but they're also one of my favorite pieces to use as an impromptu centerpiece. The silver adds instant character to a table & using it in an unexpected way adds a little bit of whimsy too. Who can say no to that?!
3. Layer, layer, layer. And if ever in doubt, add another layer! Add visual interest to your table by layering pieces such as chargers, dishware, glassware, textiles, candlesticks, flowers, citrus (or in this case pumpkins) in order to give your tabletop a completed look. When it comes to setting a table, I'm hands down a firm believer in more is more!
Alison Kist of Alison Kist Interiors
Alison is the owner and designer behind Alison Kist Interiors based in New York City and Connecticut. Alison is incredibly skilled at creating beautiful spaces that do not feel over-decorated, but instead lived-in and collected - a design aesthetic very close to my heart. She is formerly from the auction world and after years of traveling, living abroad and working with Christie's auction house, she's now turned to design. She's got a killer eye and such a unique, personal style. Here are Alison's thoughts when it comes to setting a beautiful table:
There's nothing I love more than setting a table for a dinner party, whether it be an intimate dinner for four, or a more elaborate holiday affair! As an interior decorator formerly from the auction world, I relish the opportunity to create little tableaux that tell a story and feature well loved items - and a dining table allows just that.
1. Think outside the box for a centerpiece. Although flowers are fabulous on any table (see tip 3), I find it more fun to go with something unexpected. Depending on the season and the occasion, I like to make my centerpiece work a bit as a conversation starter. For this intimate fall table setting, I've used our stuffed pheasant! Other times, I've also used things like my collection of old iron shoe forms, blue and white porcelain, even old books grouped just so!
2. Mix high and low. As in home decoration this is strategy is always a winning combination. I buy all of my old linens at estate sales or flea markets and stock up whenever I can so I always have a bunch of different styles and textures to play with. For special occasions I might pull out dinnerware and silverware passed down from family to add to the elegance. Mixed in with some thrifted brass candlesticks and crystal and voila!
3. Include something organic. Whether this be beautiful store bought flowers, decorative weeds from your garden or simply branches or wheat shafts, these natural elements bring a warmth and whimsy to your table. Here I've pulled the last marigolds from the garden for a pop of autumnal orange.
Maria Stewart of The Home Remedy
Maria lives here in Raleigh, NC and runs an online shop for beautiful, classic home furnishings and accessories. I have admired her sense of style and ability to make vintage finds feel fresh and modern since I first laid eyes on her beautiful Instagram account. Maria has a classic, elegant and timeless style that, to me, perfectly exemplifies a modern traditional and southern design aesthetic. She's offered some wonderful and thoughtful advice for setting a beautiful table:
1. I love the look of simple white plates. They let the color of the food being served stand out and don't compete with the other colorful items on your table. They're also classic - a timeless look that's always in style and easy to pair with any tablescape. You can't go wrong with white plates!
2. Opt for cloth napkins instead of paper and a table runner instead of a full tablecloth. Cloth napkins are great way to add a pop of color and bring more texture to your table. They’re also an easy way to elevate the dining experience for your guests. Add a table runner for a similar impact, bringing more texture and color to the tablescape but without giving off the more formal vibe of a full tablecloth. I love a good buffalo check print for fall!
3. Now is the time to bring out those pieces you store away in your china cabinet. I’m talking the fancy glasses, silverware, plates – you name it. If you’re hiding it away behind those glass cabinet doors, drawers, or wherever you’re keeping it – get it out. It’s meant to be used, not just looked at and hosting is the best time to use it – you’ll be glad you did! It’s perfectly fine to mix formal and casual pieces too, so don’t hesitate to reach for the fancy silverware even if the meal you’re serving isn’t super formal. The silverware I used was a wedding gift my husband and I received from my mother’s sister. The set belonged to my grandparents and is one of the most thoughtful and treasured gifts I’ve ever received. Using family heirlooms or vintage pieces during a dinner party will certainly add a more personal touch and can even be a conversation starter. This is my favorite tip of them all!
Kate Dreyer of Kate Decorates
Kate hails from our old stomping ground of the Washington, DC area and I appreciate her ability to make beautiful spaces very livable and practical for families on a very affordable budget. She's got a colorful, modern, fun style that feels welcoming and warm. And if you ever want inspiration on how to do a playroom right, she's your girl! Here she offers great advice for setting a beautiful, stylish table without breaking the bank:
1. Take advantage of what you already own, and add a seasonal touch. Just because you’re setting a table for say, Thanksgiving, doesn’t mean that your table scape should only include fall colors. A pumpkin here or a few rich jewel tones there are enough to bring a festive feel. Otherwise, try to use what you already own, throwing in a few seasonal additions. For example, I sprinkled faux pumpkins around our dining table, which offered a simple autumnal pop against our usual white and blue dishware.
2. Bring the outdoors inside. If you need seasonal decorating inspiration, your backyard or the flower shop at your local grocery store is a great place to start. A simple seasonal bouquet can bring just the right amount of color and warmth to your table. And if you’re not excited about fresh flowers, find a single faux bouquet that you can use each year.
3. Don’t be afraid to use melamine, or even disposable dishware. Long gone are the days when it was only acceptable to use fine China on holidays. Forget about the rules your grandmother swore by, and use elements in your table scape that make your life EASIER. I’m talking melamine dishware for gatherings with young kids (because something is bound to fall on the floor!), or even disposable dishware for when you’re hosting a crowd and don’t want to spend hours scrubbing everything later. These stunning blue and white disposable salad plates are from Caspari – I bet you didn’t even know they’re made of paper! And the dinner plates? They're plastic.
Thanks to all these stylish friends for sharing their great tips and tricks. Hope you have lots of inspiration for your own homes. Any other great tips that we missed? Do tell!