Whether you’re hosting a dinner party, a date night or a soiree with the girls, it’s always nice to make an effort and turn your table into a beautiful backdrop for mealtimes.
With the trend for tablescaping ever more popular, we chat to Lucy Pateman, founder of The Table Stylist, who shares her top tips for creating stunning table settings that will most definitely impress your guests.
Can you tell us a bit about The Table Stylist?
The Table Stylist is all about bringing the art of tablescaping from our stylish table to yours. We help you create magical moments in your home for any occasion through our carefully curated boxes of table decorations and table settings.
Our boxes use nature as their inspiration, whether we find it on a walk in the woods with our dog Poppy, on the beach or when cutting fresh flowers in the garden. Our love of nature means that, where possible, we use natural materials and encourage you to forage in your local area, be it woods, beaches or charity shops, for special pieces to add to our boxes.
What’s your career background?
My background has been in property, specifically interior design. In my past jobs, I worked with big housing developers in London to create their beautiful show homes. It saw me travel around the world, mostly Asia, and I loved it but I’ve always known I wanted to start my own business.
Have you always enjoyed styling?
I have a huge passion for interiors and fashion – when you think about it, the two are very closely linked. Considering the time, effort and thought you put into choosing an outfit and accessories for yourself, why wouldn’t you put that same passion into your table for your guests?
What are your top tips for a beautiful tablescape?
Before getting started and to avoid making mistakes I suggest these top five tips to create a stunning tablescape that not only looks good, but also tells a story, evokes a place or emotion.
1. Choose a theme
Pick a theme and colour for your event. Consider your personality and style, the season, and the event itself. I often build a theme around a specific item, for example our Amalfi set is based around Italian lemons. Another lovely theme for outdoor dining would be potting shed and use small terracotta pots full of fresh herbs and flowers dotted between hurricane pillar candles. I also suggest picking three colours that fall into primary, secondary and accent. Our Amalfi Tablescape has cobalt blue as primary, crisp white as secondary and our accent is yellow.
2. Add beautiful linens
Pick the right backdrop. The tablecloth covers the largest area of the table so think about this carefully, I don’t always use a tablecloth as I love the exposed oak of tables so let your theme guide you.
If you are opting for a tablecloth, choose something in your primary colour or a neutral tone. If, like me, you love your table au naturel, a table runner is a great option, and there are many options spanning prints, bright colours or even textures. If you are feeling crafty you can even use wrapping paper. It’s worth noting if you are using bright flowers or accessories a beautiful white linen runner can allow these to sing.
When it comes to napkins for a casual occasion I often opt for an almost rustic looking knot or a beautiful velvet bow. If you want something a little more interesting than I suggest using napkin rings or try folding your napkins and arranging them under the charger or between the plates. This gives the napkins a waterfall look and adds an interesting visual element to the table.
3. Layer with crockery and glassware
Here’s where you add the layers. When you’re setting the table, begin with the charger plate or placemat, building up to include the dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, bread plate, and cutlery for both dinner and dessert. Don’t be afraid to mix and match your dishes and glassware from different sets and patterns as this only adds to the personality.
Don’t let the wine glass situation stress you. We totally believe in enjoying what you love and we love rosé! So forget those rules of pairing white with fish and red with meat. Give each guest one glass each for water, and one for white and red wine. Another great tip is to buy tiny pegs and use them to add a flourish to the stem of a glass. At Christmas we like to add a sprig of rosemary or pine for that extra festive touch.
4. Don’t forget flowers
Flowers and foliage are an easy way to add that drama to your tablescape, with the more, the better. Another option are bud vases, not only are these stunning if you have them running along the centre of a table to create a meadow look, but they can then be dotted around your home after the event for some extra joy. Almost any flower works in a bud vase, some of my favourites are tulips, roses, snap dragons and anemones.
I suggest looking around your garden and using what you have to hand. I often add mint to my arrangements in summer for a beautiful scent. If you would rather opt for foliage, you can forage these from your local park or woodlands. Look for large branches with leaves to put into a vase to create a wild and fluid arrangement, however even just placing some simple foliage along the centre of the table can be beautiful.
5. It’s all in the details
It’s the finishing touch that adds the most character. You can use decorative items you already have in your home, special trinkets, fruit, chocolates, bits from the garden or even homemade items.
Consider a few small additions that make the table feel extra personal, like handwritten menu cards on top of each dinner plate or place name cards. You can get really creative with this, using anything from shells to embroidered napkins and bows. It’s a fun way to give your tablescape more personality and is a lovely addition for your guests to take away with them as a memento of the evening.
What are the most popular looks for summer?
Our Sandbanks and Amalfi Coast box was super popular last year and I predict it will be the same this year as people enjoy dining alfresco. My inspiration for our Amalfi tablescape came from the azure blue of the sea and all the beautiful lemon trees you see around the Italian coast. I wanted to evoke that feeling of the sun on your skin, sound of the sea and ultimately the feeling of dining in a lemon grove.
Why do you think tablescaping has become so popular?
I think we’ve all been tablescaping for a long time but not aware that it’s a movement and that there is a snazzy word for it! But also I feel during lockdown we were all forced to spend more time in our homes and that led us to reflect on what we want it to look like.
A lot of people tried their hand at DIY to create spaces they were proud of and ultimately that has led us to wanting to invite friends and family round to show off and enjoy our new spaces. Tablescaping is not only a way of uplifting a space, but also a way of showing your guests you care, that you’ve put thought and effort into making them feel welcome and creating a feast not only for their bellies but their eyes too.
Discover all of the different tablescapes to rent by visiting tablestylist.co.uk and head to their Instagram @the.table.stylist for inspiration and ideas to recreate in your own home. Plus, we’d love to see how you style your Oak Furnitureland tables, make sure to tag us at #OakFurnitureland on Instagram.