A step-by-step guide to create the perfect garden tablescape

Summer is here. And that means that it’s time to dine al fresco.

And just because you’re eating outside doesn’t mean that you have to skimp on glamour.

Tara O’Connor, the mind behind The Designed Table, has shared her tips to create a gorgeous outdoor space for your dinner parties.

She tells us: “A tablescape is meant to elevate the entertaining experience. This does not have to be something you spend a lot of money on – or even any money at all! Some of the prettiest tablescapes I have ever seen have included flowers picked from the garden and everyday dishes.”

Here’s how to create your perfect Designed Table.

Find your inspiration

This can be something around you, seasonal elements, the food you are serving or a colour you love. You do not need to go out and buy new things every time you entertain. I personally look to the garden or nearby parks and green spaces to see what I can find that will add a little lift to my table.

If you don’t have a garden table, don’t worry. I love to bring my kitchen table outside and dress it up for summer entertaining.

Add your tablecloth

This creates a great foundation and base for your table. If tablecloths are not for you, add a runner down the centre. Make sure you iron it smooth, so you have no creases. We have made it easy to shop for a summer tablescape with our Tablescapes in a Box so you have a summer tabletop in one click.

Inject fresh colours into your table

For summer, try combining greens and blues or pinks and reds for a colour scheme that will really sing. The new Jaipur floral block print collection comes in two colourways – light green and light blue – that work well separately or together and was inspired by the beautiful city gardens and sites of Jaipur so it’s ideal for an elegant garden setting.

Or try the new check collection in a vibrant pink, red and white gingham print finished with a red or pink trimmed jute placemat and pink or red napkin for a whimsical tablescape made for summer celebrations.

Choose your flowers

There are so many seasonal flowers around us so explore your natural surroundings and see what you can discover. Your flowers will create your centrepiece, as they normally run down the centre of the table. Always test each seat to make sure you can see your guests and place larger candelabras at the end of the table. I also love adding little pots of spring bulbs in flower to tables this time of year, and lots of tea lights.

Keep your table minimalistic

Do not overcrowd with accessories, tall plants or candelabras, or layers of plates you need to remove to serve food. Make sure you can see your guests sitting across the other side of the table.

Add depth

You can add depth to your tablescape with placemats. Then add a charger plate for more formal occasions for another layer. Wrap a napkin in a napkin ring or tie it with a piece of ribbon for the perfect finishing touch. To create visual interest and add some extra vibrancy and colour, add a side plate in a different and contrasting print.

Choose your cutlery and glasses

There is great coloured glassware available in all high street stores. Tea lights are great for summer entertaining, as they work well outside. If you are having an evening dinner, lighting is key – candlelight really adds atmosphere or invest in some solar or LED lights if you are dining outside. Finish your tablescape with a sprig of rosemary or summer bloom to each setting.

Add herbs

Pots of herbs work great on tables in place of flowers, as they can provide an inviting scent.

Use your indoor furniture outdoors

Don’t be afraid to bring out some items from your house to make your area in your garden look comfortable. From chairs to cushions to tall plants, you can create a little oasis in your outdoor space in the right weather.

One final touch

Finally, I love to pick an area in the garden or a path and set up a picnic-style area. Sunshine always brings such joy so always have a picnic basket for those sunny days. I make the area comfortable with blankets and cushions from the house and surround the area with upside-down crates and pop some plants and flowers from the garden on them.

The Designed Table has an extensive range of tablecloths, runners, and cotton linen napkins in vibrant colours and elegant prints, complemented by a unique range of table accessories like placemats, candlesticks and napkin rings in a selection of quality materials to suit both formal and casual dining.

Every piece in The Designed Table collection is designed by Tara in Ireland and made in India by certified artisan manufacturers.

The collections are available on thedesignedtable.com. Prices start from €24 for a napkin rings; €40 for a set of four napkins; and from €199 for a tablescape in a box to seat six guests.


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