From place settings to the centerpiece, here's how they envision making a sit-down meal feel special.

By Roxanna Coldiron
January 12, 2021
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decorated black and white table
Credit: Courtesy of Kultured Kitchens

When it comes to dinner parties or even small, socially-distant get-togethers, the table helps to set the mood for the evening. A beautiful tablescape—which refers to the table settings and decorations—establishes an ambience for enjoying each others' company. It also serves as an anchor for the décor, a central point of focus of the evening. This is why setting the table is so important, even as we settle into another winter of quarantine with our households.

For ideas, we spoke to designers and entertaining experts for their vision of a dream tablescape.

Natural Beauty

Paris J. Scott is a designer at Decorist whose style is self-described as mid-century and modern. Her dream tablescape is "a crisp and neutral floral arrangement consisting of oversized vases, white roses, eucalyptus, lavender, a mix of dehydrated flowers, and some pampas grass!" she says. "To set it up, I'd start with a simple but elegant white or neutral table runner, like this Pebble Lace Table Runner ($10, bedbathandbeyond.com). Next, I'd fill an oversized vase with a mix of white roses and dehydrated flowers, which will be the centerpiece."

To balance the centerpiece, she envisions an array of ceramic and cement vases holding eucalyptus, lavender, and pampas grass stems. "Then, in no particular arrangement, I would lay some oversized pampas grass on the runner to create a faux garland," says Scott. "Each table setting would have clear glassware, paired with gold-trimmed plating—these Olivia & Oliver Madison Gold Dinner plates ($17.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) are beautiful—on top of place mats ($3.99 each, bedbathandbeyond.com) with the soft gold flatware, and completed with soft white linen napkins."

Italian Tradition

Sharon Leigh Copeland, a Decorist designer who loves coastal and transitional design elements, says that her dream tablescape is an elegant rustic Italian style: "I would be outside enjoying traditional pasta and Margherita pizza." To set it up, she would start with "a weathered outdoor table with a mix of chairs and a bench. The top of the table would have a textured linen runner ($33.99, bedbathandbeyond.com) with candlesticks and either dried rosemary or olive sprigs that would intertwine between them," she says. "The place settings would be round hyacinths placements ($57.99 for four, bedbathandbeyond.com) and on top would be decorative cream-colored dinner place settings and crystal wine glasses. For the added touch, I would place a bowl of lemons for color."

Southern Charm

Michiel Perry, the founder of Black Southern Belle, started her blog to celebrate African American women who have a Southern connection and a love for beautiful Southern style. "I am longing for some great live music and the nostalgia inspired by Southern music," she says. "For my dream tablescape, I would host a dinner party inspired by Southern art and Southern music. Nothing like a great playlist that inspires the meal and the conversation." She would set up the party on her front porch and surround her front porch swing with a formal dining table as well as some chairs.

"Each place setting would be unique and represent some of my favorite Southern artists [and the] menu would of course feature some of my Southern favorites and be inspired by the music on the playlist," says Perry. "I could definitely see album covers as placemats and party favors with song lyrics. The color scheme would be black and and white, inspired by musical notes with outdoor foliage as the greenery coupled with pops of color on the music inspired placemats and menu cards."

Inherited Culture

Kultured Kitchens' Krystle Lofton and Karin Strayborn would set a table for two in their design. It would be "infused with touches of culture and signs of love would best describe my dream tablespace," says Lofton, adding that the low lighting of tea candles floating in a bath of clear water would provide an ideal backdrop for tiny glass accents to be scattered around each place setting.

"I believe adding small touches of art like statues, masks, and pictures, adds a foundational element to the theme," says Strayborn. "Therefore, I would use a West African Mask as a centerpiece next to a handwritten love note. Finishing the look, I would build the two-place setting, using Kultured Kitchens' Zulu collection (from $350, kulturedkitchens.com), and mix the intricate design with black and white solid plates for emphasis." They also like the look of tableware Brookes & Bridges and glassware Estelle Colored Glass. This, she says, would create "an unforgettable romantic dining experience."

Colorful Style

Alison Leigh is a Decorist designer and the owner of Alison Leigh Designs who loves classic and Bohemian designs, an eclectic mix. "My personal dream tablescape is all about opulence in vibrant blues and gold accents," she says. "Set the stage with bone China dinnerware ($159.99 for five-piece set, bedbathandbeyond.com) in a mixture of old patterns and geometric prints [and] create artistry with gold flatware ($99.99 for 20-piece set, bedbathandbeyond.com) with a contemporary twist." Next, she would add glassware trimmed in gold mixed with a silver goblet, adding drama with sculptural ceramic feathers in white and gold ($58.99 for two, bedbathandbeyond.com). For color, she suggests adding ambiance with crystal votive candle holders in a square pattern and regal blue napkins with gold napkin rings. And don't forget an overhead focal point: "Crown your table," she says, "with a beautiful modern chandelier in honey gold with silver touches."

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