Homes: Set the mood with a beautifully dressed table
Whether you’re having a family barbecue, casual brunch or full-on dining experience, a beautifully dressed table will set the mood
1 CONSIDER THE OCCASION
Are the in-laws over for a roast, or is it an outside brunch for friends? ‘A formal meal lends itself to a perfectly set table and a casual event calls for large share platters for guests to help themselves,’ says Jessica Bellef, head of styling at Temple & Webster.
2 LAY THE FOUNDATIONS
Tablecloths suit formal and casual meals, but the fabric will change the style completely – crushed linen creates a relaxed look, while crisp cotton is more formal. Alfresco dining calls for a bare table with a table runner or placemats.
3 NAPKINS ARE ESSENTIAL
Not just practical, they add colour to a setting, too. ‘If you make your own, you can tailor them to your scheme. Cut cotton fabric into 60cm squares, sewing a hem or leaving the edges to fray. Run through the wash before you use them,’ Jessica says.
4 SET ONLY WHAT YOU’LL USE
Don’t set extra plates, cutlery and glassware just because it looks nice. Only put out things that will be used throughout the meal or you’ll end up with confused guests and extra washing up to do. Nobody likes washing dishes!
5 GET THE ORDER RIGHT
If you’re serving more than one course, cutlery should be placed in order of use from the outside in. Forks go to the left, as does the bread or salad plate, while knives, spoons and glassware belong on the right.
6 DON’T ADD CLUTTER
Mealtimes shouldn’t be spent playing table Tetris, so avoid littering your space with glassware. ‘A multipurpose bar cart is a nifty thing to have,’ Jessica says. ‘Put it near your table, stacked with excess tableware, cutlery and ice buckets.’
7 CHOOSE A CENTREPIECE
Keep your table centrepieces low for easy eye contact. For breakfast and lunch, opt for fresh flowers or bowls of fruit. ‘Candles are perfect for dinner parties, but choose unscented to avoid fragrance clashes with your dishes,’ advises Jessica.
8 FINISHING TOUCHES COUNT
Whether it’s a place card, a beautiful napkin ring or jar of homemade jam for your guests to take home, the finer details make all the difference. It’s even better if they have been handmade specially by the host.