by Rebecca Lovatt – My English Country Cottage
Dress and hat from Stoned & Waisted Fashion
Tablescaping has become an extremely popular pastime in recent months. Scroll through Instagram or Pinterest or even old school heavenly glossy magazines and your eyes will be filled with beautifully clothed tables, twinkling silver and glass, vases of flowers and ingeniously folded napkins.
Many of us have missed entertaining over the past few months and now that we are socialising more at home it is no surprise that we are going to more effort to ensure that guests feel welcomed and comfortable. The more work that goes into the food and the setting then the happier the occasion and the more quickly guests will relax and enjoy themselves. Given my Aga’s tendency to incinerate or simply refuse to cook at all, I will not advise on the food but I have some very useful tips for creating a beautiful table that will make guests feel immediately special and know that a magical lunch or evening awaits.
As many of us are embracing alfresco dining, warmth as well as comfort are now key to allowing a guest to relax, use cushions and blankets to keep them toasty warm (and heaters if you are super fancy). Lighting is also a key factor, particularly if it is an evening event. Use festoon or fairy lights, lanterns and hurricane lamps and most importantly candles which create a beautiful light and add decoration to the table.
Tablescaping involves layering – in heights, textures and colours. Start with a theme or a colour or even a freshly picked jar of garden flowers. I generally start with the tablecloth and work from there. Pick out the colours in your layers: napkins, placemats, glasses, jugs, maybe slices of lemon in clear carafes to pick out the yellow flowers, sparkling silver, beautiful plates and bowls and always fresh flowers, even if it is just some beautiful long grass in a jug, a table benefits from a natural element and again shows the effort that you have put into making your guests feel welcome.
If all this sounds like a lot of hard work and you wouldn’t know where to start with layering a table, I have found the most genius company in the world: Dress For Dinner – if you like to pick and choose you can go through all their different looks and pick out the linens and glasses and vases and candlesticks and plates and placemats and tablecloths and and and…it is all there! In one brilliant website. Even better, if you don’t have the time or the inclination then pick one of their Boxed Tablescapes which contains everything you need – even the plates! It all co-ordinates beautifully so you don’t need to employ your poor end of the week brain. It’s BRILLIANT!!!!
Pictured above are : Inca Lily Tablecloth, Blush fringed napkins, Bridgerton glasses, Amelie pink glasses Summer Garden Decoration Set (Bud vases, Botanical Green Lace-Edged Candlesticks Blue, green and pink candles currently in the sale for £49) and Twinkly candlesticks in Jade.
I spoke to Ellie Moore who founded this ingenious company and picked her brains on how to tablescape like a professional: “The table itself is a good starting point! What is it made of, what size is it and where is it in your home? All of these things will influence how you start to put a tablescape together. Then it’s working up from there: what sort of table-covering (cloth or runner..or nothing if you have a gorgeous table you want to show off), placemats, then tying in glassware, linens, crockery cutlery, candlesticks and vases. Flowers will often dictate our designs: what is in season and what colours work with the tableware we use”.
Ellie feels that being a good hostess involves a responsibility towards ones guests: “You are there to help them have a wonderful time and creating a beautiful space is a big part of a magical event. I think a considered table where someone has clearly thought about making it attractive for diners, brings sparkle to any occasion and really sets the tone for people to enjoy themselves. I get a huge amount of pleasure eating at a gorgeous table in lovely surroundings but I know sometimes people don’t know where to start, or need inspiration for their designs. That’s where Dress For Dinner comes in”.
Image courtesy of Dress For Dinner
Pinterest and Instagram are two of Ellie’s favoured sources for visual tablescape inspiration. “I think about seasonal touches or occasions I am dressing for; I browse through magazines and I take inspiration too from my florist www.threewildflowers.co.uk and what blooms she is using – all of these things feed into the creative process. I think also at a certain point, the table creates itself – sometimes you have an idea in your head and it just doesn’t work, but you substitute something and suddenly it’s a whole new look and you love it.”
When buying for “Dress For Dinner”, Ellie will look for tableware that catches her eye. She favours pastels and prettiness, gorgeous glassware and what’s on trend: “I have to love it, or it doesn’t work for my customers”.
Images courtesy of Dress For Dinner
Dress For Dinner’s top 5 table styling tips are
1) Don’t be intimidated. You can do this too! We all just need to experiment a bit and gain confidence.
2) Flowers flowers flowers – if you do nothing else, buy some bud vases and fill them. It will transform your table instantly.
3) Gorgeous glassware is always a huge hit – splash out on some fabulous champagne glasses to make your guests feel glamorous and pampered
4) Vary the heights in the centre of the table – alternate tall candlesticks and small candlesticks and vary the height of your flower stalks to create interest.
5) Plate stacks look immediately considered – mix it up – try different colours and patterns. Just have fun with it. The key thing to remember is: a considered table is a tablescape and it’s so special for guests.
Image courtesy of Dress For Dinner
The two most important items to create a beautiful table are flowers and candles, although Ellie adds that she has a passion for beautiful plates: “It’s an art form. Les Ottomans is an Italian designer – we stock some of their gorgeous plates and it’s a privilege. I want to keep them ALL. We carry lovely Yvonne Ellen animal cake plates and are just launching a range from Burleigh – I love to stock British designed products wherever possible. There is so much creative talent out there – I am always on the hunt for gorgeous new pieces. Send me your favourites and we’ll try and stock them!”
Image courtesy of Dress For Dinner
The joy of Dress For Dinner is in the confidence that it brings, you unwrap a beautiful box and everything is there to create a super sparkly evening with a wonderful ambiance and happy guests. As Ellie says, this can be achieved with candles and flowers but to go the extra mile provides the twinkle for the evening and when one hears the “oohs” and “ahhs” from arriving guests it gives one the reassurance that the evening will be filled with magic and joy…and probably a lot of “This is so beautiful! You are so clever”!
Click here to visit Dress For Dinner and enter an Aladdin’s Cave of beautiful pieces for a perfect evening.
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