Ready, get set ... a table to inspire. Pictures: Porter Davis
Ready, get set ... a table to inspire. Pictures: Porter Davis

How to dazzle at your next dinner party

IT'S never easy to nail a perfect table setting.

A dinner party can be a stressful affair, and most of us are trying so hard to pull off an authentic paella or not overcook the salmon that the table setting is often relegated to secondary status.

But, here, interiors stylist Jason Grant - fresh from leading a table-styling masterclass for new-home builder Porter Davis - shares a few secrets to nailing three looks.

Interiors stylist Jason Grant.
Interiors stylist Jason Grant.

1. Cape Cod

This is a fresh-looking palette that's perfect for summer.

The soft apple-green of the napkins is complemented by the dark plates underneath, a striking combination highlighted by the white table.

"Napkins are a great way to inject colour and they're not too expensive," Mr Grant said. "It can look like you have gone to a real effort."

A green napkin injects colour.
A green napkin injects colour.

More green can be introduced to the table with leaves or limes - or, in this case, both.

"A bowl of the one kind of fruit is not only a great way to add colour, but it's a nice alternative to flowers," Mr Grant said.

Then focus on the little touches, such as wooden napkin rings, to bring the look to life.

"Or you could tie some beautiful twine around the napkin as a way of making it look attractive, but I would steer clear of turning the napkin into some birdlike sculpture and going too overboard," Mr Grant said.

Leaves and limes contribute to the zesty palette.
Leaves and limes contribute to the zesty palette.

Top tip: "Add a touch of glam with metallic cutlery. It's a great way to instantly add luxe appeal."

 

Mistake to avoid: Too many colours. "I would keep your colour palette to a maximum of three colours: your napkin, your plate and your centrepiece."

A white tabletop contrasts with the black and green theme.
A white tabletop contrasts with the black and green theme.

2. Lake Como

This blue and black look is heavy on texture and tone, rather than strong splashes of bright colour.

"It's a look that can be soft and simple and not loud, but then still interesting and striking at the same time," Mr Grant said.

Pared back: the blue and black theme.
Pared back: the blue and black theme.

He said to mix layers, textures and materials, rather than patterns.

"Everything with Lake Como is similar in its tone, but it's just in a different finish. The texture is very important."

And think subtle colours that still pack a punch. "Classic colours like white and black never go out of style."

Placing small handmade ceramic bowls on top of the napkins will make attractive focal points.

"I always love mixing old handmade ceramics and they often have a great texture to them," Mr Grant said.

 

Top tip: Combine styles. "Mixing crystal glassware with handmade porcelain looks great. Plus, glassware on the table always adds luxury and elevates the table."

 

Mistake to avoid: "Candlesticks are wonderful to use as they create height, but make sure the candles at the table are not scented as it overwhelms the smell and taste of the food."

A mix of layers, textures and materials.
A mix of layers, textures and materials.

3. Copenhagen

A wooden table is important here, as it serves as an earthy counterpoint to the white roses and elegant glassware while allowing the greenery of the leaves to pop.

"This is a great look for those who want to play it a bit safer before they experiment," Mr Grant said. "This is one of those times when sticking to a white dinner setting is a good idea."

Glass items ooze elegance.
Glass items ooze elegance.

This look is classic, using old porcelain serving dishes and cloches on a traditionally arranged table. The main stars are the wooden table and splashes of white, and there are very few creative risks, although the look is effortlessly elegant.

"People can start with the white flowers and then pull everything together from there," Mr Grant said. "It's a great look for people who struggle with interiors."

 

Top tip: "Place something interesting under a cloche to create a special look. A fruit or a vegetable is a simple idea."

 

Mistake to avoid: Be careful not to crowd this elegant setting as the wooden table can be easily lost and the symmetry thrown out. "Simplicity always reigns supreme. And if in doubt, always take one thing off the table."

The wooden table and the colour white are the stars.
The wooden table and the colour white are the stars.

More table-setting tips

• A quality linen tablecloth is always in style but think twice before covering up a beautiful wooden table.

• Dinner parties are about conversation, so try not to use features that will block people's view.

• Introduce elements from nature besides standard flowers, such as tightly bunched sprigs of rosemary, a seed pod from a palm tree or magnolia branches. And place branches on the table, rather than in vases.

• Experiment with height and layers to achieve the right look.

Source: Jason Grant


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