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Tablescaping: what is it, how do I do it and is it worth the hype?

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Megan Murray
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These gorgeous examples of tablescaping and our edit of the best tablewear to buy are sure to convince you to try this interior trend yourself. 

OK, I admit it. I’m a sucker for a trend – especially one I’ve seen plastered all over social media. In addition to this, I’m also an interiors addict and use image-sharing platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to look for new ideas to decorate my own flat and to give me a heads up on decor trends for any articles I’m writing.

I was hooked by the millennial pink phase, the velvet sofas (mine arrived last weekend – woop), the DIY painted floorboards and statement fireplaces. Like everyone, I have a growing obsession with towering house plants (I’m only human). But there’s one trend that recently captured my attention and it feels more niche than the rest.

The first rumblings of tablescaping (the art of setting your table) started for me about six months ago. In features meetings at Stylist HQ we discussed the idea that for women in their mid-to-late 20s, dinner parties were now the entertainment style du jour. 

Therefore, people seemed to be taking pleasure in setting their tables for dinner in increasingly elaborate fashions, thinking about colour schemes, styling details and investing in accessories such as napkins, candles and vases.

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It wasn’t long before friends of mine who had previously favoured well-known and failsafe stores like Zara Home and MADE were asking me about small, independent brands who specialised in tablewear. 

Designers such as Matilda Goad (famous for her brightly coloured napkins) and Anna + Nina (whose candy-hued candle sticks are an obsession of mine) began cropping up in conversation, as my pals became keen to up their table setting game

I too fantasised about inviting my friends around for dinner and wowing them with a beautifully laid table. Of course, it makes sense to want to lay your table with the appropriate utensils and to create atmosphere if you’re hosting, but this was more than that, it felt like an opportunity to be creative. Dare I say it, it felt like art.

In the same way you might imagine choosing an outfit from head to toe, hair accessories to handbag, I started picking out tablecloths, napkins, candles and candle holders. I thought about centrepiece decorations and pastel-coloured cutlery, water pitches and jug vases stuffed with coordinating flowers. I contemplated which colours would work best to complement the food, season and trends of the moment.

So, I went looking for inspiration and boy, did I find it. Plenty of artsy Instagram royalty have been smashing stylish table settings out of the park for a while already. 

For example, artist and designer Luke Edward Hall’s al fresco dining scenes are full of clashing stripes – from his turquoise and yellow tablecloth to the just-picked tulips in a paint-splattered vase. These sit joyously alongside sunshine-coloured glasses and patterned plates. 

While influencer and broadcaster Laura Jackson flicks between minimalist white tablecloths and matching, neutral-coloured dishes and rich, jewel tones with an abundance of candles at varying heights. Jackson has even collaborated with Habitat in the past to film her tablescaping talents and has invited her followers to get creative at dinner time with her hashtag #makeamealofit.

Are you convinced, yet? If so, and you’re keen to try tablescaping for yourself, I’ve put together some of my favourite tablescaping examples for inspiration and some must-buy table accessories to get you started. 

Tablescaping inspiration 

Here are some of my favourite accounts and examples of dreamy tabletop set-ups. 

  • Laura Jackson

    As previously mentioned, Jackson really knows her way around a dining table. Her Instagram account is littered with different examples of table set-ups, but I particularly like the richness of this picture.

    Although the candle stands much taller than anything on the table she manages to make it look more like a statement than out of place. Similarly, the turquoise and mustard striped tablecloth could clash with the earthy-toned wall, but instead they combine to create a look which is inspired and eccentric in all the right places. Plus, just look at those vibrant lemons and the strategically left on string of leaves. Perfection.

  • Fiona Leahy Design

    Interior designer Fiona Leahy is the one true master of tablescaping. Her account doesn’t just offer a few interesting ideas on how to decorate your dining table, it’s FULL of them. 

    Not only does Leahy cover a breadth of themes in her table settings, she’s really creative with using shape, colour and layering. For example, in the post above she creates a scene to reflect the pattern on the napkin, which is a stroke of genius. 

  • Luke Edward Hall

    Hall is another tablescaper I’ve already touched on and here you can see his al fresco dining come to life. He loves using bright, popping colours together and wacky touches like this sweetcorn-shaped water jug which half looks like it belongs in a charity shop. It’s all part of the charm, of course.

  • Cressida Jamieson

    Cressida Jamieson embroiders bespoke designs onto clothing and soft furnishings, specifically napkins. Her style is delicate and whimsical with a vintage-feel and she occasionally arranges her pieces into beautiful tablescapes.

  • Liv Purvis

    Liv Purvis’ talents span far and wide. She’s an author, podcast host and influencer with expertise on all things fashion and interiors. 

    But in her spare time she also loves to flex her tablescaping muscles, and as such her feed is full of beautiful tablecloth and candle combinations. She’s a good person to follow for accessible tabletop looks too, experimenting with texture and colour but in a way that feels achievable to us mere mortals of the tablescaping world.

  • Bre Graham

    Journalist Bre Graham’s simplistic table scenes ooze cool girl-factor. A serious foodie, she often shares gorgeous pictures of dishes she’s cooked up and along with them plenty of inspiration on how to style your dining table. 

    Think small glasses holding a singular rose, interesting candlesticks and randomly assorted decorative fruits and wine bottles. She’s a master of making the off-beat placing of an item look painfully stylish. 

Tablewear to buy and try the trend 

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Other images: Instagram / brand’s own

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Megan Murray

Megan Murray is a digital journalist for stylist.co.uk, who enjoys writing about London happenings, beautiful places, delicious morsels and generally spreading sparkle wherever she can.

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