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How to Set a Gorgeous Table

TableSetting400When decorating your table for a special meal, think chargers, fun flatware, unique glassware, and just the right centerpiece. From Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life.

I remember after I got engaged, I skipped through store aisles with a scanner gun as I filled up my registry with all sorts of tabletop goodies. And when it came to one of the most important registry items, my china pattern, I went with simple and plain over patterned and historical. I have to say it’s a big regret of mine. To be honest, I think I’ve used my china a total of five times in eight years—partially because we don’t formally entertain that often but also because it bores me to death. Why didn’t I get something magical and bold from Bernardaud? Or a classic from Herend? I was scared, plain and simple, of making the wrong choice. But I have learned that when setting a table, it’s all about the mix! One set of china, no matter how graphic and colorful, is uninteresting on its own, just like a matching bedroom set (word to the wise, never buy a set of anything that is furniture related. EVER). Here are a few tips to help you set a creative and gorgeous table.

No matter how basic your china is, adding different chargers and salad plates really makes it look unique. I love using patterned salad or dessert plates in combination with my classic china and a metallic charger—and it’s not expensive to do. Try searching your local discount store for options!


From gold to matte black, from twig-shaped handles to bamboo accents, there are tons of choices out there these days for interesting flatware to excite dining companions. Consider investing in a fun set of flatware to use with your plain china or to dress up a setting of your everyday dishes!

One of my favorite possessions is my set of turquoise-blue French opaline wineglasses. I picked them up at an antiques show and I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on them when I set them out for dinners! Mixing colored water glasses or wineglasses with a clear, basic set adds color and texture to an otherwise monochromatic table.


Having an array of linen options available to use is key when setting a table—from various colors and patterns to luxurious monograms. Sometimes keeping everything else simple and using a bright solid napkin or a funky black-and-white stripe is all you need to take your table from boring to beautiful.

Creating a centerpiece can be daunting. Try not to go too crazy and stick to these quick and easy tips:

• BUY A COUPLE VARIETIES OF FLOWERS, but all in the same color, and put them in vases of varying heights clustered in the center or down the length of a table.

• FIND A GREAT TRAY and top it with white pillar candles of varying heights for a nonfloral option.

• FILL A BIG BOWL (or several bowls on a rectangular table) with preserved green moss.

• AVOID ANYTHING TOO TALL that keeps people from being able to look each other in the eye or pass food.

• DON’T GO OVERBOARD so that you can’t fit serving platters on the table too!


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