A Lesson In The Art Of Tablescaping

Ready, set (the table), go!

Tablescaping is the decor trend that’s cheering up your Instagram feed right now. Ahead, events manager and founder of Signature Rentals, Maria Reidy teaches us the ropes.

As lockdown restrictions ease, there is one quarantine trend that may have more longevity than some. No, not homemade sourdough (how will those high-maintenance starters survive once we’re no longer WFH?) but the tablescape. 

Not familiar with the term? Put simply, tablescaping is the art of dressing your table for a dinner party or special occasion – in the same way you might put together an outfit for a night out. Starting with the tablecloths, you colour-coordinate and theme your way up to the napkins, plates, bowls, salt and pepper shakers and candles, finishing off with a vase of flowers or a bowl of fresh seasonal fruit. The main difference between a tablescape and simply just laying the table is the experience. The prior must be a visually elaborate, Instagram-worthy, beautifully styled spread which makes for an excellent conversation starter. But when the pandemic hit and took away the enjoyment of dining out in our favourite restaurants, the decorative trend saw a huge resurgence – as thousands sought a way to brighten the repetition of another meal at home. Currently, there are over 1.1 million posts under #tablescape on Instagram.

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 So, as we ready ourselves to host our allotted ten friends in the confines of our garden, or venture to the local park with picnic baskets in hand, why not make an occasion of it with your own take on a tablescape? We reached out to event manager and founder of Signature Rentals, Maria Reidy, for her top tips. 

iron out the details

"My main tip is to enjoy the dressing of the table so give yourself time to do this as you also have to get yourself ready and trust your own taste and loves. It doesn’t have to be perfect – the more relaxed the host the better.

Make sure your linens are crisp with no creases, you’d be surprised how much better a table looks when decorated with freshly steamed linen!"

create an inviting environment 

"Although we want our tables to look beautiful, we also want them to be comfortable and functional. Guests must feel comfortable at the table, in order for them to enjoy their meal so ensure everyone has enough space at the table and make sure that flowers and candles are not obstructing your guests view of other guests.

The most important part of any gathering is for the guests to connect and converse, so the table décor should be below or above eye level."

light it up

"I love to use candles but I have one golden rule: always use good quality candles. In particular, I love taper candles and I think it’s really important to use 100% wax. If you buy cheap ones they may splatter all over your linen and ruin your table.

You can mix your candle size and your candlestick heights to create layers of light. Start high in the middle and then get lower until you have tealights at the base - plain glass, glass edges with gold, coloured tealight holders etc. – anything that diffuses the light and throws different accents."

consider the décor

"I would advise to always work with the surroundings. Rather than put in something that feels out of place or alien to the space, I put thought into what’s already in the room. The table must not compete with its surroundings.

Ask yourself the following:

  • Is it a modern contemporary setting, rustic or old world?
  • How are the shapes, structures and setting going to work when people walk in?
  • What is going to be the most visually striking set up?

get colourful

"Coloured glassware is very much en vogue at the moment and is perfect for a summer tablescape. The team and I love the combination of coloured and eclectic glassware against white crisp linen. Adds a lightness to the table and reduces formality. We are finding that many of our clients opt for this for Summer weddings."

Go Green

"Use garden greenery as a table runner – just cut snippets from some of your trees and garden bushes. If you are lucky enough to have flowers in your garden arrange simple blooms in tall glass bottles and place along the centre of your table.

The key is to keep it simple and don’t overthink it. Wild and foraged looks great."

If All Else Fails...

Rent it! Sure, you could go out and buy an array of tablecloths, napkins, dinnerware, candlesticks, vases, cutlery and more but ask yourself the question: 'what do I do with all of this once the meal is over?' Well, this is where Signature Rentals comes in. From hand-poured Danish candles to Portuguese glassware, you can hire everything you've ever needed to create your own bespoke event. The pieces are timeless and built to endure and if there’s something you can’t spot on Signature Rentals inventory, simply pop them an email and they’ll do their best to source it for you. What's more, Signature Rentals have a showroom which they encourage customers to visit to help choose their stock. They also put together a table mock-up of what your event might look like in order to help you visualize how your chosen stock will look on the day. And if you love the pieces so much that you struggle with the thought of giving them back, there is also the option to purchase gorgeous items from Signature Rentals to add to your home so they can be part of all your events to come. Visit signaturerentals.ie or contact [email protected] for more info. 

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