December 9th, 2020
The Dining space within a home has universally been a place of commune, connection and celebration for centuries. The Greeks were the first to design rooms specifically designed for eating, followed by the Ancient Romans. By the Victorian era, the affluent households spent lavishly on their dining rooms, outfitting them with upholstered chairs, mahogany sideboards, beautiful bone china and expensive linen napery to entertain and host guests for special occasions. However, the rise of the dining space as a place to cultivate a sense of family, through designated daily family mealtimes and casual gatherings depended upon the arrival of the dining table & dining room from Europe to America in the mid-19th century.
Today, many homes are returning to a more open plan, communal style dining space that functions as a breakfast nook, dining table, workspace and games table. The dining table is the one place within the home that is transient in it's style and functionality, as the tablescape mirrors the change in seasons, holidays and celebrations, bringing a sense of vibrancy and aliveness to the home.
Today we share how to craft a beautiful tablescape from scratch and showcase five of our favourite tablescapes and design principles that are guaranteed to elevate your entertaining experience this Festive Season.
A Hamptons style tablescape combines streamlined luxury with a lived-in coastal charm. The interplay of blue and white ceramics, hand-block prints, crisp white linen, rattan & pewter can be complimented by crystal-stem glassware and vases for a more formal feel, whereas corals, shells & a natural timber base creates a more relaxed look.
Colour Scheme: Lots of white, with table bases of painted white, natural or dark timbers, and accents of indigo, celadon greens, navy and duck egg blues.
Formal: A white pressed linen or cotton tablecloth.
Casual: A blue & white hand blocked cotton tablecloth or table runner layered on a natural, white painted or black stained timber table.
Napery: If your base is a white tablecloth, layer with antique rattan placemats or underplates larger than the plates you will use, to create balance and depth. If using a runner in the centre of the table, placemats are a still a good way to add colour, in rattan, seagrass or linen/cotton in plain white, navy or hand blocked print or stripe. We recommend finishing the look with crisp white linen napkins to compliment the tablecloth or blue & white printed napkins for a more casual look. Napkin rings in silver or pewter (formal) or rattan/seagrass or even shell adds another element.
Formal: Silver nickel or glass candleholders in different heights ( pictured above) with a collection of crystal vases displaying floral arrangements of hydrangeas, white roses, freesias, gardenias with green foliage.
Casual: If it is a family style meal with large platters, style one central glass/nickel or rattan candleholder and 2 small floral arrangements in white ceramic, pewter, silver or rattan jugs or vases. Allow plenty of white space for the share platters to sit.
Glassware: Crystal glassware in varying sizes such as the Elysee striped tumblers, wine and champagne glasses pictured. For a more casual look add a blue glass water glass for added colour.
Place-settings & Servingware: Layer blue & white china on classic white ceramics with simple detailing. Pewter servingware, glass or silver water jugs, oil & vinegar sets, glass butter dishes and white ceramic or silver salt dishes.
Flatware & Servers: Classic silver (formal) or white resin, bone, marble or rattan handled cutlery for a more casual look.
Table Lighting: Elegant pillar candles styled in nickel, pewter, rattan or glass candleholders.
Decor: For the festive season, tie a name tag to a pretty silver Christmas ornament for each place setting and don’t forget some beautiful bonbons.
A Relaxed Country tablescape is organic, textural, relaxed and un-fussy. Fresh, unstructured floral arrangements styled in white ceramic vases or glazed jugs, hand-crafted ceramic platters softened by natural linens. Adding in rustic materials such as zinc, wire and metal adds a country charm, especially when complimented by recycled time worn furniture.
Colour Scheme: Chalky oyster whites, pastel greens, caramels, taupes, faded blues and muted reds.
The Base: Bleached elm or scrubbed pine recycled timber tables with painted/natural timber rush seated dining chairs. For farmhouse tables long benches topped with grain sack or stonewashed linen cushions are a good option for large, informal gatherings. Repurposed woven grain sack stripe fabrics utilised as table runners or stonewashed linen placemats in natural or muted colour-ways to soften the rustic backdrop.
Napery: Confiture towels with muted red stripes add farmhouse chic as do natural linen or provincial printed cotton napkins and placemats.
Centrepiece: Unstructured fresh floral arrangements from the garden, hand-crafted ceramic water jugs or vases, large share platters, wooden cheese boards, wire and glass candleholders or even zinc/metal vessels.
Glassware: Handblown, robust glassware, tumblers, wine & champagne glasses.
Place-settings & Servingware: Bring out your collections of ceramics in different shapes, complimentary colours and mismatched patterns.
Flatware & Servers: Burnished stainless steel cutlery that has a time worn feel.
Table Lighting: Muted glass candle votives or old jam jar vessels with t-lights.
Decor: A hand-made condiment gift in a small mason jar with a twine name-tag is a thoughtful touch.
Belgian Style Dining is minimal, neutral and textural. Less is more, and each component is both functional and aesthetic. The Belgian tablescape brings the natural and raw materials indoors to create a look that is both refined yet relaxed and inviting.
Colour Scheme: Bringing the outside in is the inspiration for the Belgian table setting. Muted, raw colour palette with complimentary natural, organic materials. Tables are constructed of raw, unfinished or ebonized woods, warmed by heavy stone washed linens in napery and upholstered or timber/iron seating options.
The Table Base: Raw, natural wood or ebonized tables.
Napery: Linen Napkins, heavy stonewashed tablecloths and placemats in warm neutral hues and dark accents such as granite and charcoal colours. Grey washed rattan placemats and coasters, layered on top of the linen base for extra dimension and texture.
Centrepiece: Substantial, heavy bottomed hand blown cylinder vessels in smoked or clear glass filled with chunky pillar candles; antler candleholders; chalky white, muted dove or charcoal ceramic vases filled with fresh, hand-picked-from-the-garden greenery or architectural twigs/branches. Grey washed rattan or pewter trays to group and gather glassware, serving ware and accessories. Simple and uncluttered feel.
Glassware: Clear or smoked quality hand blown crystal glassware and pewter jugs. Less is more, quality over quantity.
Place-settings & Servingware: Ebonized serving boards and large hand-made muted ceramic share platters and accessory dishes in neutral hues and natural glazes. Slate or horn coasters.
Flatware & Servers: Burnished black or muted stainless steel cutlery.
Table Lighting: Heavy bottomed glass vessels with white, grey, taupe or muted colour pillar candles and accents of horn or natural timber holders for dinner candles.
Decor: Bring the natural and textural indoors. A sprig of foliage (eucalpyt, buxus or Rosemary) tied with jute string to accessorise, with a zinc or natural card name card, placed on top a linen napkin is the epitome of Belgian festive styling. Simple, elegant, natural.
Coastal Style Dining is characterised by layers of white, hints of blue, fresh greenery, natural materials, and breathable, cooling fabrics. Natural cotton and linen napery is complimented by white-washed rattan and bleached timbers. Nautical elements can be included for a classic coastal feel, such as a decorative yacht, ships helm, clamshells or an antique bleached wooden fish or starfish.
Colour Scheme: Shades of white, calico, and muted neutral seaside tones complimented by natural and bleached timbers, seagrass, rattan and cane.
The Base: Bleached elm tables with washed white or natural linen/cotton tablecloths.
Napery: White-washed rattan placemats, underplates and coasters create a natural base layer. Use nautical themed tea-towels such as a muted indigo stripe or pastel seascape, as oversized placemats and to add subtle colour to trays/platters. Washed out, sun kissed & air dried napkins in muted stripes or hand blocked print add casual faded beauty. Incorporate shell, rattan or marble napkin ring holders.
Centrepiece: Natural collected elements; shells, coral, driftwood, baskets, sea fans, clam shells, starfish. Woven jute baskets with fresh greenery such as a small fiddle leaf fig, palms and succulents. Tea-light candles on pretty marble or whitewashed trays.
Glassware: Simple, elegant glassware in clear, sea-glass or pale blue tones, bringing the coastal exterior colours indoors.
Place-settings & Servingware: Whitewashed rattan placemats, trays, coasters and napkin holders. White ceramic plates and bowls with some simple detailing such as a fluted or distressed edge or ‘wonky wear’ undulated and organic in shape. Add glass butter dishes, glass or woven jute water jugs, and hand crafted glazed condiment dishes or salt, oils and condiments.
Flatware & Servers: Stainless, wicker or white marble handled cutlery & salad servers.
Table Lighting: Shell, clay, rattan and bamboo wrapped glass candleholders with pillar and t-light candles for ambient light.
Decor: For a festive touch, place mini hessian bags on top of the base plate with a name card attached, each could have with a small edible gift inside, a hand-written quote or message. Other decorative plate toppers could be a cowrie shell, creamy starfish, small piece of coral or a succulent branch.
Colourful, breezy and relaxed is the overall feel you will want to create when considering an Alfresco Dining space. Marry the style of garden you live amongst (or would like to live amongst) with your alfresco table setting style. Draw inspiration from the colour palette and ‘feel’ of your landscape. When it comes to alfresco dining you can be as creative as you like as you are not confined to the existing decor of your dining space. Bring a fresh, summery look to your tablescape by making use of fun patterns, colours and materials.
With clipped formal gardens, your table setting could be more refined and elegant, utilising deep green Portuguese ceramics, mustard accents, whites and muted burgundy for a stylish, sophisticated colour palette. Polished silver cutlery, embroidered or heavy white linen napkins. High quality embossed coloured glass or acrylic drinkware in clear, green or amber colour ways, botanical print linen or paper placemats and napkins. Silver, pewter, brass or rattan coasters, jugs and servers.
Hamptons Style Alfresco
For Hamptons style garden backdrops of hydrangea and gardenias, lay the table with soft blue floral or chintz fabric and use glazed white ceramics in contrast for cut through and freshness. Silver jugs for luminescence filled with fresh picked flowers and greenery. Soft blue acrylic or glass drinking/wine glassware and glass/nickel storm shade candleholders. Outdoor fabric cushions in coordinating patterns of botanical prints, stripes, or single colour with accent piping for relaxed comfort.
Belgian Style Alfresco
Belgian style alfresco dining ideas include natural weathered dining table base, old grey rattan placemats, grey clay pots filled with herbs such as rosemary or buxus as a natural centrepiece. Add linen throw blankets, hopsack cushions, burnished cutlery and heavy bottomed cylinder vases for groupings of pillar candles in muted colours. Suspend some lichen covered branches entwined with fairy lights over the table for drama if dining under a pergola.
Use an eye-catching lighting fixture to elevate the room & make it the focal point.
Lighting changes how we see a space and how we feel when we are in that space.
There are 4 main lighting styles; Accent Lighting, Ambient Lighting, Task Lighting and Mood Lighting. Accent lighting creates visual interest in a room. Use accent lights such as wall sconces to frame the centrepiece of your dining room, such as the mantlepiece or fireplace, wall art or other architectural features. Ambient lighting is fundamental to a properly lit room and provides the overall illumination through lighting fixtures such as Chandeliers or Ceiling Pendants.
Task Lighting brightens areas where routine tasks are performed and makes a nice addition to the ambient lighting if your dining space also serves as a place to do homework, games or other organisational tasks. Task lighting includes adjustable floor or table lamps. Lastly, Mood Lighting is where you can get creative with pretty tea-light candles, dinner candles, hurricane lamps or decorative lights that function both as decorative objects and provide soft illumination.
Lustre is often what makes a design truly shine... adding a subtle bit of glam through a reflective mirror, shimmer or pewter can bring a sense of glamour and charm that would otherwise be missed. Lustre and lighting often work in sync, as lustre is the state or quality of shining by reflecting light. This could be by pairing a tea light in a silver or gold candleholder, placing decorative objects or candles on top of a reflective mirrored surface, or adding in decorative items that showcase as sheen, gloss or radiance such as crystal.
Green, Living & Lush... Plants, Foliage and Flowers can simultaneously soften and elevate a space. Create a fresh, tropical look with some Palm Leaves, a more refined look with White Orchids or Roses, an Industrial look with a Fiddle Leaf Fig and bring a pop of colour with some lemons, limes or oranges in a ceramic bowl in the centre of the table.
The key when bringing all the elements together is to not over do it, and one way to do this is to select 1-3 of your most loved pieces to have on display. Think of a decorative object, luxury candle, family heirloom, festive decoration or antique vase. Adding something loved, creates a lived-in feel & ensures that your dining room reflects the current season, celebration or holiday-season.
Layering creates interest, be it layering complimentary or contrasting textures, colours, heights, materials, shapes and sizes. Two simple ways to layer is by layering your table settings, starting from the placemats, dinner plates, napkins and any additional accessories. To create height, you can pair a Tall Vase, Hurricane Lamp, Ginger Jar or Floral Arrangement next to tea-light candles, decorative objects or short mason jars or tapas plates filled with condiments.