The season for outdoor entertaining is in full swing... and the weather has come back to encourage us yet further! A show-stopping tablescape sets the tone for an event or celebration... but just a few minutes of table preparation will help the most simple of mid-week suppers feel that bit more special.
Summer tablescape with antique tableware and antique serving pieces

Why bother with a tablescape?

Tablescapes can have an intimidating reputation. Flicking through the pages of glossy magazines or Pinterest can make it seem like an impossible task. Highly curated examples, with an array of fine china and accessories to envy royals, shouldn't put you off.

Creating a tablescape should be a simple and enjoyable experience for both host and guest. Setting the table with your favourite things makes an occasion feel special. Here at Lorfords, we argue that there is no hierarchy when it comes to dining. Whether it is a simple midweek family dinner or an extravagant birthday event, an eye-catching tablescape is never a wasted effort.

The key element in an effective tablescape is expressing your own personal style, meaning there is no ‘one size fits all’ solution. The only real rule is to bring together things you love – nothing is too precious or too out there. The secret ingredient is, of course, antiques.

Chaotic harmony

Don't try to create a flawless tablescape with perfectly matched pieces - it will almost certainly take the joy out of the process. Instead, bring together a range of styles and contrasting elements. This approach is not only easier, but it creates a more stimulating aesthetic.

See your table as a blank canvas to build upon. Layers are important for creating an eye-catching result, so start with the first, a cloth or covering of some sort, and go from there. Adopt the mindset that mismatching is your friend, not foe. Different colours and materials create friction, which is essential to any successful design. Each guest will feel special if each setting is different and it makes sourcing for your table a whole lot easier! All your beloved pieces have a seat at the table, whether it is a plate you picked up in Sardinia many moons ago or a hand-made bowl from a local market.

Of course, dining does have a practical element and it’s not all lawless creativity. Don't forget any platters, tureens and dishes that might need a space on the table and be aware of space. Your guests will appreciate the quirky features, but they will also appreciate an easy dining experience.

When alfresco dinners turn into long balmy nights of drinks and laughter, you’re going to appreciate some soft lighting. Candlesticks offer a gently flickering light, or perhaps you prefer the steady glow of a lantern. Either way, antique lighting will bring a magical quality to your tablescape.

To unify your scheme, create some sort of centrepiece. This doesn’t have to be an elaborate affair – it might be a simple vase or urn filled with flowers. Centrepieces are great for establishing a seasonal theme. You could fill a trinket bowl with dried flowers, or a large vessel with fruit and vegetables.

Antique tableware and antique serveware

Use those antiques!

It’s not just in the lighting that you should look to antiques. Not only do they nail the tablescape aesthetic, but antique pieces will also bring a personal feel to the table.

Don’t be afraid to use that silverplate dinner service you inherited from a loving grandmother, but has since been gathering dust in a locked cupboard. It is in the dinner party setting, with its peals of laughter and loving toasts, that life returns to antique pieces. Equally, use those shabby chic and ‘seen better days’ pieces in your collection. They bring an informal elegance and a sense that they have been well-loved. Some wear and tear will encourage guests to properly enjoy themselves, without worrying that they are going to chip the china.

The tablescape offers an opportunity to embrace those quirky relics. A pair of 'his and hers' antique napkin rings – once gifted to newlyweds centuries ago – provide a great talking point. What about a set of knife rests in the form of dachshunds? These features are sure to make your hosting stand out amongst all the summer garden parties.

Antiques are an essential ingredient in the tablescape tapestry. Blend them with new contemporary wares to add interest and texture to your scheme.

We're all a little weary after the last year and a half of rules, so let setting the table be a liberating experience. Invite loved ones back with a tablescape that stimulates all the senses. Just don't forget about actually feeding them!

Become a tablescape expert...

Inspired by this magical tablescape filled with antiques? Discover all our antiques for the tablescape on our website.

The beautiful tablecloth is from Bertioli by Thyme’s wonderful collection and it provides the perfect backdrop. Getting started with your own tablescape is made easy with their linens, which are designed by Caryn Hibbert and inspired by nature.

Read Caryn's top tips for vibrant table lays.