Hosting a successful gathering is about so much more than simply food: from welcome cocktails to the soundtrack (link), it’s the tiny details that combine to create the right mood for your party. We take a look at some of the key aesthetic elements that will elevate your dining table from drab to decadent, creating a visually stunning impression that your guests will be talking about for years to come.
So what, exactly, is a tablescape anyway? While it may encompass elements such as floral centrepieces or candles, a tablescape is so much more than a simple vase of blooms. A carefully constructed artistic arrangement that creates a unified theme to your dining room table, a successful tablescape will set the tone for your entire party.
As you can see, it’s imperative that you consider the overall theme and premise for your get-together before you begin your tablescape planning. Are you hosting an intimate and casual get-together, or a large-scale formal bash? Are you aiming for simple and cosy, or jaw-dropping glamour? Jeans and t-shirts or black tie? Identifying your aim early on will help you to plan your table décor, creating the atmosphere you’re looking for.
A good tablescape should have some sort of coherent theme, and identifying a colour scheme is a great place to start. The colours and textures that you use will depend on the atmosphere you’re hoping to convey; shimmering metallics, rich velvets and deep jewel tones are undeniably glamorous, while muted earth tones are perfect for a more casual, eco-conscious theme. Seasonal themes are also ripe with possibility for creating interest – planters bursting with narcissus and pastel linens are perfect for a casual Easter brunch, while pillar candles, glass candleholders and evergreen arrangements work well for a formal winter party.
Whatever your theme, aim for a sense of balance overall, with broadly similar or complimentary patterns, colours and textures creating a unified theme.
Flowers are an essential element of a successful tablescape, with different blooms each conveying a distinctly different ambience. A series of crystal vases bursting forth with crimson roses will convey a sense of lavish abundance – scatter rose petals across the tablecloth to create even more textural interest.
Meanwhile, delicate white freesias paired with white roses will produce a subtle scent and give a fresh, summery feel to your modern dining table. Trailing ivy is a wonderfully versatile centrepiece that adds freshness to your décor, and olive branches are rustic and tactile. Once again, pinpointing your theme early on will facilitate picking the right floral decorations for your party.
Arguably the most essential element for any party (after the food and wine, that is!), candles are a must for any get-together. Universally flattering, atmospheric and cosy, candlelight will create intimacy, cast visually interesting shadows and soften the mood.
Create drama by grouping beeswax pillar candles of different heights together on a marble tray in front of a mirror, like our Inception Rock Crystal. This will diffuse the candlelight back into the room, for a soft glow. Alternatively, opt for a rustic traditional holder such as our Uncle David Spanish Candlestick, which is handcrafted in wood and resin, then treated for an authentically vintage finish.
Dish It Up
Whether you favour sleek contemporary crockery in plain white or a family dinner set that brims with history and charm, pick your plates to suit your party. These days, it’s perfectly acceptable to add a touch of fun with mis-matched crockery – just pick an overarching colour to create a coherent look that is quirky, rather than chaotic. Sleeker gatherings call for bone china and you can’t go wrong with simple white, perhaps gilt-edged for an extra touch of luxury.
Sparkling crystal glasses not only look inviting but also play well with your candles, reflecting light around the table. Ensure you have the correct glassware for the drinks you’ll be serving – as a bare minimum, you should have sufficient champagne flutes or coupes, red and white wine glasses, highballs and rocks glasses for your guests, with a few spares in case of breakages. Pre-decant your red wine into a glass decanter, and don’t forget the water glasses.
A classic canteen of silver cutlery will work with any theme. Start by ensuring that your flatware is pre-polished with a good quality silver cleaner and soft cloth, then lay the table according to your planned courses, including specialist tools such as oyster shuckers, shellfish crackers or lobster forks, if needed.
Good quality knives are a must if serving steak – Zwilling J.A. Henckels, Laguiole, and Wusthof are all renowned for their excellent blades. And while fish knives may now be considered passé, a classic silver napkin ring still earns its place at any elegant dining table.