3 Steps to Setting a Beautiful Table

Whether you’re planning a wedding or hosting a small dinner party, putting together a beautiful table is a creative endeavor that has the added benefit of making your guests feel special and welcome. For those who might be in need of some tablescape inspiration, we asked Taylor Oliver of Greenville, South Carolina-based Oliver Hooper Events, which takes a personal and creative approach to designing social occasions, to share her expert advice. Here, she discusses everything from her favorite elements to go-to color palettes:

Get creative with color. When it comes to selecting which colors to incorporate into your tablescape design, Taylor says you should let the seasons and your personal preferences guide you. Think about what’s in bloom and available via your local florist, and pull in elements in your favorite hue to complement the design, as Taylor did with the aqua blue chargers in the above image. Another option is to look to fashion or interior design for inspiration on which colors seem to be of-the-moment. In need of specifics? Taylor offers a season-by-season approach to selecting tabletop décor:

Spring: “Spring is about joy, cheer, and whimsy,” Taylor says. Let the bright blooms guide you, and play off those with your favorite accent colors, even if it’s a color you don’t often see in tablescapes, like the aqua she favors or currently popular options like teal, peacock, and dusty blue. Balancing bright colors with beautiful china and silver pieces will add a sense of elegance.

Summer: You can still pull in your favorite or on-trend colors (such as aqua or dusty blues), but Taylor recommends offsetting them with some breezier elements. She also advises mixing in a lot of white to achieve a cleaner look, and opting for less-frilly, informal elements like colored stemless glasses or napkins in a fun print to give the table a relaxed feel.

Fall and Winter: The fall/winter holiday season is the time to forego brighter options and instead incorporate more greens, particularly varieties that have a hint of blue or silver to them. If you decide to keep to the current blue trend, a deep peacock or blue with a greyer tone would be especially pretty this time of year. Taylor recommends avoiding going heavy with the gold, glitter, and sparkle, and instead using holly berries, simple silver pieces like mint julep cups, and understated china patterns to keep the table feeling beautiful, fresh, and understated.

Mix old and new. In addition to creating visual interest, mixing old and new pieces will make your guests feel more comfortable, says Taylor, who loves to pair her great-grandmother’s china with more modern pieces. “Whatever the season, I’m always thinking of ways to balance that mix.” Passed-down silver pieces feel personal and tell a story, which can give your set table a sense of soulfulness guests will appreciate.

Bring in unexpected elements. Think of ways you can carry through color or add a surprise pop of personality into your design. Taylor recommends seeking out a place card with a bright painted edge and a monogrammed napkin in a pretty color, pulling in colored glassware, and incorporating colored candlesticks. These are great ways to work in an accent color, and opportunities to pull another color from the florals.

TSG Tip 258 from Taylor Oliver of Oliver Hooper Events in Greenville, South Carolina. Oliver Hooper Events is featured in The Scout Guide Greenville. Credits for tablescape featured above: Oliver Hooper Events (planner, calligraphy, paper), Urban Petals (florals), La Tavola (linens), Privately Curated (place setting). Photographed by Angela Zion Photography. Photo courtesy of The Scout Guide Greenville.