Turning Inside Out


Dining outdoors is one of the great pleasures of summertime. Thanks to extended hours of daylight and warm temperatures lingering late into the evening, entertaining outside doesn’t just make good sense, it can be downright magical. When hosting an outdoor gathering, we believe that an outdoor tabletop should celebrate the surrounding environment. Depending on the mood you’re trying to create, that can mean playing up the abundance of natural beauty and treasures that can be found outside, as in the above moss-draped tablescape at historic Belle Haven (photographed by Jen Fariello), echoing the ethereal wonders of a night sky with candles or twinkle lights, or keeping things simple with elegant and thoughtful touches that encourage the eye to take in all that lies beyond.

For a casual evening with friends, we love bringing the garden to the table, accenting it with nothing more than a potted plant or freshly picked blooms and a few candles. How lovely is the simply lit table at an outdoor dinner (left), captured by BEALL +  THOMAS PHOTOGRAPHY? The low and tightly composed arrangements add a bit of flair while allowing the intimate group to chat easily. Similarly, we adore the softness and simplicity of the table from BERGNER AND JOHNSON DESIGN (right), and the way it conveys the idea that while lovely that evening, the decor may ultimately end up as part of the garden.

The interplay between garden and dining room can create beautiful compositions. LAURENCE CRAIG CATERING, which is known for its tablescapes, transforms an outdoor enclave into an elegant dining space by using an indoors-appropriate table; incredible fine art sculpture; a variety of levels thanks to pedestals, cake stands, bowls, and platters; a mixture of white and metallic wares; and artfully arranged food displays fit for a royal feast.

Natural materials and textured accents infuse a table with warmth and add visual interest. This can be achieved via a ceramic lantern from TCHOUPITOULAS FINE FURNISHINGS, ceramic and walnut cake stands from FULL CIRCLE DESIGNS (perfect for a multi-level look), or a twine-wrapped mini-bouquet like the one from FOXTAIL COTTAGE FLORAL.

Glass is ideal for displaying edibles in radiant summer light. Consider using colored glass serving dishes and brilliant-hued florals, or integrate floral plates into your tablescape to bring vibrancy to any outdoor occasion. We’re taking our inspiration from an outdoor fête photographed by MULLERS PHOTO (top), a rich tableau from FOXTAIL COTTAGE FLORAL, and an exuberant Gien Millefleurs dinner plate from HUTCH & FIG.

For TSG co-founder Susie Matheson’s weekend soirée, lush peonies in simple glass vases and white candles in hurricanes and mason jars intermingled with gorgeous silver candelabra along two long farm tables, creating a chic, unfussy display perfect for a late spring evening spent among friends.

Anything you choose to put out will look more appealing and approachable if you factor height into placement. Exhibit A: The buffet table by FRESH CUT Catering & Floral (top), which features stacked plates, chafing dishes and serving bowls set on wooden boxes, and a tall, eye-catching lantern to complete the look. Exhibit B: A farm-to-table feast with baskets of varying shapes stacked on overturned produce crates accented with additional bounty from the garden, beautifully captured by Mullers Photography. Both setups would be appropriately punctuated with rustic silverware like the hand-forged and burnished utensils, available from THE ROMAN TABLE.

When you want your outdoor dining to be simply dreamy, work in creams and soft lighting. The divine table above, photographed by PEZZ PHOTO, is twinkly, romantic perfection.