Feast for the eyes

If plonk­ing down a few ta­ble mats and adding nap­kins is the ex­tent of your ta­ble dec­o­rat­ing ef­forts it could be time to think again.

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Homes & Interiors -

TAK­ING a lit­tle time and trou­ble can fun, in­ex­pen­sive and ef­fec­tive, en­thuses Liz Bel­ton, co-author of a new book Ta­ble Style, which is laden with in­spir­ing set­tings.

“A vis­ual feast for the eye en­cour­ages lin­ger­ing and talk­ing and true en­joy­ment of the food,” she says.

“All too of­ten nowa­days, meals are rushed af­fairs or eaten while watch­ing tele­vi­sion, and slowly but surely the art of cre­at­ing a beau­ti­ful ta­ble seems to be dis­ap­pear­ing.”

Liz, a stylist, points out that peo­ple of­ten only take trou­ble over ta­bles for oc­ca­sions such as Christ­mas, but be­lieves any meal can ben­e­fit from a ta­ble adorned with sim­ple touches.

“Gone are the days when peo­ple spent a for­tune on for­mal din­ner sets.

Here are Liz’s tips for de­sir­able, af­ford­able ta­ble set­tings for in­doors and out.


In­vest in table­top sta­ples and keep them handy so set­ting a ta­ble for any oc­ca­sion is easy.

“Choose neu­tral, nat­u­ral colours for a col­lec­tion of table­cloths or run­ners so that you don’t limit your colour op­tions,” ad­vises Liz.

“Linen cloths or cot­ton sheets, fab­ric sam­ples or old rolls of wall­pa­per cut to make run­ners, can be picked up from boot sales or an­tique shops and put to use as dis­tinc­tive ta­ble dress­ings.”

For mag­i­cal light­ing ef­fects clus­ter can­dle­hold­ers of dif­fer­ent heights as a cen­tre-piece or ar­range a row of twin­kling tealights on a run­ner.

Charger plates are a chic al­ter­na­tive to place mats, and long stemmed drink­ing glasses can dou­ble as pretty dessert ‘dishes’.

Try sourc­ing ta­ble dec­o­ra­tions from com­pa­nies such as The Hand­picked Col­lec­tion: Mir­rors from £2.95; heart or star name hold­ers, 95p each; and bird and flower shaped can­dles from £4.95.


Just be­cause you’re eat­ing on your knees doesn’t mean you can’t make an oc­ca­sion of it.

If you’re the cre­ative type in­clude a length of muslin and a ball of string in with the pic­nic gear, and make a glam­orous, im­promptu canopy by drap­ing the fab­ric over low branches.

“Don’t bring out the best china but in­stead use pretty but prac­ti­cal enam­el­ware or melamine dishes and mugs,” ad­vises Liz.

“Dress a pic­nic rug as you would a ta­ble with an eye for the vis­ual im­pact, so key in to the land­scape by us­ing shades of soft greens, creams and nat­u­ral tones for china and ac­ces­sories.”

TURN THE TA­BLES: Asda’s black and white Ur­ban pic­nicware, a set of four plates or bowls, £5. Or try their crys­tal-style Swirl tum­blers and wine glasses, £5 for a set of four.

Stop flies and wasps dive-bomb­ing pic­nic good­ies by cov­er­ing up with retro-style mesh food hoods, £8.95, from the Hand­picked Col­lec­tion.


There’s al­ways some­thing spe­cial about eat­ing in the gar­den.

“Keep the look pared down but pretty with sim­ple china, dec­o­ra­tive glass­ware and pile on the flow­ers,” ad­vises Liz.

“Be in­spired by the colours around you, so on the ta­ble echo the colour of a brightly coloured bloom or shrub near the pa­tio area.”

Head to the lo­cal nurs­ery to find plant tags to use as in­ge­nious place cards, and dis­play pot­ted herbs and plants in gal­vanised-metal buck­ets or tubs in the cen­tre of the ta­ble. Accessorise a place set­ting with a sin­gle flower head or herb sprig, per­haps tied with gar­den string to a nap­kin.


Spe­cial oc­ca­sions de­serve spe­cial ta­bles, but that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank.

“The key to a beau­ti­ful ta­ble is how you dress it, not what you dress it with,” points out Liz.

“Pol­ish the ta­ble, buff up the chairs and then throw on a cloth, or use a length of wall­pa­per as a dec­o­ra­tive ta­ble run­ner. A pale sug­ared-al­mond pal­ette is best for easy-on-the-eye el­e­gance.”

Flow­ers make all the dif­fer­ence but avoid struc­tured bou­quets. In­stead, ar­range six pink blooms in a clear glass vase or have in­di­vid­ual flower-heads in a line of tum­blers. Com­ple­ment the look with white or cream china, and hand-writ­ten place cards, dec­o­rated with pink rib­bon ties.

TURN THE TA­BLES: White and pale green flo­ral Vi­enna din­ner­ware is so­phis­ti­cated but a snip at £22 for a 16-piece set from Very.

A chic set­ting with a pale, sug­ared-al­mond pal­ette, fea­tur­ing pink blooms in clear glass vases, a run­ner made from wall­pa­per and white china, taken from Ta­ble Style by Liz Bel­ton & Re­becca


TURN THE TA­BLES: Try Sains­bury’s pic­nicware dec­o­rated with a bright flo­ral pat­terns. Bowl or plate, £1.99, and flo­ral jug, £4.99.

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