Setting a Summer Table

Pecky Summer Table Setting

Entertaining in the summertime always feels a bit more laid-back, presenting an opportunity to meld classic refinement with casual flair. When it comes to setting the table, hosts can be inspired by the season in a variety of ways, whether taking a cue from a summery palette or evoking a breezy, carefree attitude through simple (yet stylish) décor. Here, Patricia Estes, owner of Sarasota, Florida-based home furnishings store and design studio PECKY, shares her advice for creating a thoughtfully-set summer table while we dissect the details.

Envision the atmosphere you want to create. When setting your table, Estes says, “Above all else, everyone enjoys a casual atmosphere with class and style.” In Estes’s summer table setting featured above, she achieves this through a foundation of natural elements and accessories that bring warmth and texture and blue-and-white dishes perfect for the season. The well-edited palette is carried through with small blue glasses bearing fresh herbs, while hurricanes, classic glassware, and a silver tray add just the right amount of sparkle. There is nothing fussy about the design, yet it feels intentional, intimate, and ideally suited for a summer evening. {See below for sources.}

Aim for an eclectic mix. Estes recommends using what you have collected and cherished for years on your tabletop, and encourages hosts to get creative. “Eclectic is good,” she says, noting that, in addition to creating a visually interesting mix, “It can give you a subject to discuss during lulls in the dinner conversation.” Small finishing touches (in summer, this can be sprigs of fresh flowers or herbs from your garden, or shells collected from a stroll on the beach) can have a big impact and add a wonderful personal touch. And, Estes adds, “You can never go wrong using quality linens handspun in unique patterns and colors.”

Don’t feel the need to follow the “rules.” In general, we don’t cling to too many hard and fast rules when it comes to entertaining, and we find that summer is a particularly good time to loosen up. Estes endorses this approach, suggesting that any small vessel with an interesting detail can hold a “cup” of soup, and that everything does not have to match to compliment. “Very often, a dinner plate is not even needed,” she says, opening up the door for even more interpretation.

Do what you need to de-stress the process. “You’ll need your legs and feet to be fully rested to entertain with a smile on your face!” Estes says. To that end, she recommends hiring whatever help you need so that you still have some energy to enjoy your evening. Whether that means hiring an expert in the kitchen or people to help with prep work, serving, or setting the table, having assistance can make or break your experience. After all, who wants to spend a summer day cooped up inside until the guests arrive?

Sources: Chairs and dining table: JANUS et Cie // Blue and white marble place setting: Christopher Spitzmiller // Stemware, napkin rings, glass hurricanes, coaster: Simon Pearce // Small blue glasses: Jan Barboglio // Knives: Laguiole en Aubrac // Napkins: LinenMe // Silver tray: Origen.

TSG Tip 221 from Patricia Estes of PECKY in Sarasota, Florida. Photograph by Andrea Hillebrand. PECKY is featured in The Scout Guide Sarasota.