How to Set Your Table Like a Stylist
For many of us, cooking is a wonderful creative outlet and a chance to step away from the stress of the workday. But after all the effort you put into your latest elaborate recipe, it feels like a bit of a let down to sit down to the same hastily-set table. You deserve better than those ripped paper towels you’re using for napkins. So, the question arises: how do you create a tablescape worthy of your culinary creations? While it may sound like a lot of extra effort, it can be a lovely treat for your evening in. Here are a few handy stylist tips for creating a pulled-together table at home.
1. Tidy your surroundings.
First and foremost, you’re going to have to do a little bit of tidying. That sounds obvious, but decluttering can change the entire atmosphere of your dining area. Even if you just shove everything in a nearby closet and shut the door, give your eyes a break from laptop stands, sticky notes, and all of the junk mail you’ve been accumulating for weeks. Tidy it enough to keep it out of your eye-line as you dine. The idea is to limit the visual clutter and create an atmosphere that does not remind you of your workspace.
2. Choose your lighting carefully.
The second step in setting the right dining mood is lighting. This is an often-overlooked dimension of the restaurant experience. Try to create a diffuse, indirect light. Warmth is also key: no one wants to linger over dinner lit by a buzzing fluorescent light. Instead, a low glow will make your skin radiant and create a super-cozy feel. It’s like magic. Try candles (tea candles in small juice glasses are a great easy option) or bring a table lamp into the room, and turn off your overhead lights.
3. Layer in texture.
The next element to consider is texture. A great restaurant experience is designed to delight all of your senses, and taste is only the beginning. If you’re really going to go all-out for your in-home dining, you’ll want to create a layered experience. Whether that means an interesting table cloth, runner, or set of placemats (or none at all) is up to you. But consider picking up a few cloth napkins to add to your table settings—they’re a great, green option and can create such an elevated feel. If you don’t have any on hand, a few simple dish towels can serve handily as napkins (if a French bistro can do it, you can too). If you’re into an eclectic vibe, try mixing and matching your glassware and serving dishes. Don’t be concerned if everything doesn’t match!
4. Greenery is good.
“Texture”, in a broad sense, involves creating a layered, collected feel to your tablescape. Another great way to do that is by adding greenery. If you have fresh flowers on hand, congratulations, you’re a star. But not to worry if you don’t. Any prop stylist will tell you that cutting the occasional frond from a houseplant or from a nearby tree is totally okay. Just be careful not to get caught snipping choice blooms from your neighbor’s prize hydrangea bushes (we recommend asking first). Even a single sprig can look sculptural and interesting when you place it in a vase, jar, or even an empty wine bottle. Think about proportions as you place your greenery: you can use branches to create height and drama, or lay them across a table to tie the place together. Just try not to block the sightlines of any of your diners.
With a few small details, any table can become an elevated setting for your delicious home-cooked meals. By taking the time to really relish the dining experience, you can take a break from the everyday, even if you never leave your own house. Bon appetit!