Come to a tablescaping session, they said. They didn’t have to ask twice. Interiors and table stylist Peta Yuste shares her tips for setting the perfect summer table.
One of the great joys of summer is dining al fresco. Long, lazy lunches. Sultry, candle-lit evenings. Clinking glasses and the chink of cutlery on china. With the sun shining and Chelsea in full bloom (I went for the first time last year and loved it. Alex has never been. Next year…), the signs are all there – it’s time to get outside.
Pepa Yuste is a table and interiors stylist who created the impeccable and beautiful table settings in these pictures. For her, the thrill of new china is akin to the one many get from a new handbag (“china is my luxury” she confesses). So much so, she has converted a cloakroom in her Madrid house into a dedicated china cabinet. Swoon at her styling and absorb her tips for setting the perfect summer table.
The table is the only thing in your house that you can change every day. It truly is everyday decorating. And summer the perfect time to experiment with creating a beautiful table. Even small gardens tend to have a table al fresco – now is the time to make the most of it. Whether it’s a casual lunch with friends or something more formal – if you set the table well, you set the mood. The table you lay is what your guests will remember.
Stock up on textiles and china. If you see something you love – buy it! Scour flea markets for interesting finds. Invest in pieces you adore and mix it with high street. That beautiful china you inherited – or received as a wedding present? Use it! It’s like a sitting room with a beautiful painting and ikea furniture – the painting elevates the room just as your china elevates the table.
Give yourself time. Prepare everything in advance. That way, if something’s not quite working or you need to tweak or make changes, you have time to do so. Don’t rush it; be considered.
Start with a palette – a constant colour theme which runs through the table. Think of it as the dress, and the trimmings as adding accessories!
A pretty tablecloth is the perfect base. Opt for something patterned – it’s easier if you have a pattern to anchor the table: it adds interest to plain china.
As a rule of thumb, aim to have three dinner service sets you can mix and match. Something plain and simple (white); a pastel, like dusty pink, sea foam green; and patterned (Pepa favours blue and white).
When it comes to setting the table, mix and match, but keep in mind the constant. Adhere to the following rule: if you’re using busy china, tone down the tablecloth. (So, here Pepa used floral, pink-patterned china but played down the patten clash with a subtle, pink-striped tablecloth base.)
Let glasses follow the constant theme – they can be coloured, as long as they fit.
Try scalloped napkins – and fold to show off the scalloped edges. Keep them separate from the cutlery, so it’s easier for your guests.
Play with textures. Use mats to protect the tablecloth and to add interest and change the mood. These wicker mats add a rustic, country feel.
Just try the mix! The more you try, the better it looks. Let happy accidents happen.
Arrange seasonal flowers (nothing too formal – all the flowers here are very casual) – at a low level so your guests can talk over them and see each other. You can also use fruit – lemons, limes and figs all work well – to add interest. Never use scented flowers or candles – they will compete with and distract from the food.
Step back and look. Often changing just one thing will ‘make’ the table.
Follow your instincts, not fashions.
Get the Look…
1. Porcelain tableware, from £9.99, Zara Home; 2. Scalloped plates, £18.00 for 4, La Redoute; 3. Pink mini scalloped napkin, £10, Sarah K; 4. Cotton tablecloth £24.99, H&M Home; 5. Bud vase, £4, M&S; 6. Champagne saucer, £3.50, Sainsbury’s; 7. Frayed placemat, £11.99, Zara Home; 8. 3 pack cutlery, set £8.99, H&M Home