Design an Inspiring Table Setting

From casual to formal, these eight stunning table settings are sure to add an elegant touch to your next party. Get ideas and design tips for centerpieces, dinnerware and decorations.


Use colors that complement the season and your guests.

By: Caren Baginski

Convey Elegance Using Neutrals

"I selected ivory tablecloths because I had to push together two tables to accomodate our group, and felt that ivory would be more seamless than a pattern. I laid the embroidered tablecloth across both tables to tie them together and draw the eye along the length. I used yellow gold/amber plates, napkins, rings and glasses because the color evokes autumn for me — think mellow sunlight, ripe squash and falling leaves. Plus the colors really reflect the candlelight beautifully, and complement the food and all the guests."

Photo by Traoki

Consider the Room's Time Period


Be sure to consider how the table setting will mesh with your dining room.

Designer Steven Miller set this dining table to reflect the modern antiquity of the dining room itself. Silver and gold pop against a luxurious black tablecloth. What really sets this setting apart is the details: the repetition of dots on the napkin, stemware and plates for a touch of the modern. 

Choose Three Colors

Lilly Centerpiece


Too much color can overwhelm your table setting, you want color without going overboard.

Jodi Hertz knows that beautiful table settings can come from budget-friendly stores, and she shows it in her colorful table with items from Ikea, Target and Velocity Art & Design. To get a colorful look without going overboard, stick to three colors with similar intensities for your dishware and accessories.

Photo by Jodi Hertz

Personalize Your Table

My Little Buttercup

Gold Table Setting

For her parent's anniversary this designer personalized each place setting with a special momento.

"For my parents' 60th anniversary I hoped to create a table setting that was elegant and gave the impression of a wedding reception dinner. Since the table was quite long, I chose three identical vases for the flowers instead of a single centerpiece arrangement so everyone could enjoy the decorations. I used yellow roses, calla lilies and baby's breath to go with our gold and white color scheme. Each place setting included a framed black and white photo of my parents' wedding photo from 1947 for guests to take home."

Photo by ddn_rchmnd.

Make Items Look Expensive


This design looks rich and is appealing to both men and women.

"I tried to feature [this design] as a mix that would please men and women (plaid plates for the guys; roses, silver, beaded placemat for the ladies). There is a mix of expensive as well as affordable items. For example the dishes are from Target a few years ago, mixed with some Lenox, Walmart linens and 'rose flower heads.' I love to go for drama in most cases, even if the subject is meant to be low key."

Photo by jcann.

Use Colorful Dishes


For a more casual affair, tone down the table setting with warm colors.

Warm and colorful place settings are a favorite of deepmedia's mother, who set this table for a casual brunch. Textured placemats, fabric napkins and eclectic fiestaware set the mood. Get the look by mixing different colors of the same dishware, no matter the type.

Photo by deepmedia.

Add Height


This table setting is filled with drama for an arrangement that is sure to draw some attention.

Designer Kristin Hannah of Hannah Interiors designed this room for active dining, even when not in use. Go for height and drama by scaling tall candleabras and flowers against smaller arrangements below, like votives and glasses. The jolt of color and pattern helps to prompt conversation in the event of shy dinner guests. 

Photo by Dino Tonn.

Keep Your Design Simple


When in doubt, try a simple table setting with a dramatic backrop.

Sometimes it's best to let the table do the talking. Designer Candice Olson, host of em>Divine Design, set this gorgeous table with minimalism in mind, allowing the multicolored chairs to become a dramatic backdrop. To recreate this look, opt for basic whites and creams and set utensils and cups sparingly.

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