Design:

Shop Athena’s Tablescape Essentials

Shop Athena’s Tablescape Essentials

Is there anything more joyful than the sound of clinking glasses with fizzing champagne and excited chatter as bountiful platters are passed around the table? Whether you’re entertaining friends or preparing a feast for family, nothing makes our heart burst more than an intimate gathering. Of course, photos of stylish settings with impeccably designed tablescapes can be intimidating and oftentimes, even prevent us from hosting anything at all. But in actuality, the most memorable nights are always the simplest. From the meals to the wine and the table setting décor, without fail, it’s the simple, unfussy, and accessible approach that rules, every time. 

At first glance, Athena’s tablescape designs might appear expertly curated, styled, and expensive, but in reality, it’s quite the opposite. When you look closer, there’s a formula to her table settings: fresh produce replaces expensive store-bought florals, seasonal hues inspire the color palette, and a little DIY craft goes a long way. It’s never precious, but always alluring and definitely beautiful. 

So whether you’re just serving a meal for yourself or many, pull out your linen napkins, tie it together with leather cord or string, add a fragrant sprig from the garden, and watch your table (and experience) transform. Above all, enjoy the creative freedom, play, and revel in the act of making something beautiful that brings YOU joy. 

Keep reading for our simple table setting tips to create your dream gathering and then shop our favorite table setting décor.

Sarah Elliott
Sarah Elliott
Shop Athena’s Tablescape Essentials

1. It can express beauty and still be super simple.

Don’t overcomplicate things. Beauty in nature is never perfect so your tablescape shouldn’t be either. Embrace the wrinkles by using unpressed linens, fold napkins simply and place them on a place with a sprig of something seasonal and a simple leather cord or string to keep it in place. Elaborate does not equal beautiful. Less is more, always. 

2. Let the season be your guide. 

From the meals you serve to the tablescape decor, look to nature to inspire your palette from the color to the flavor profiles. If you’re serving eggplants in July, then consider placing baby versions next to the napkins that are tied together with a sprig of lavender like Athena did here for her Vogue Living shoot. Take elements from the menu and use them as décor—when placed on the table, a vegetable, citrus, or fruit, even spices like a cinnamon stick can be both fragrant and impactful. So simple and inexpensive but incredibly beautiful and of the moment.

3. Stir things up.

Don’t be afraid to mix your metals (yes, copper, brass, silver, rose gold, and bright gold can co-exist on the same table), styles, eras, and colors to create a highly personal table setting that speaks to the food you’re about to serve but also creates a laid-back and intimate environment for your gathering. No one can enjoy themselves in a stuffy, overstyled space so let go, mix-and-match, incorporate varied glassware and vintage to ramp up the texture and patina, and set the mood. Who wants a prim and perfect table anyway? “Perfectly imperfect” is a motto I live and design by.

4. Branch out.

You know we love to forage in nature for clippings and greenery to add to our vases so why not do the same for your table setting. Head outside and cut a few stems from a nearby tree. Those little branches will offer unique, organic texture to your table not to mention a sculptural quality that cannot be emulated by anything you buy from a store. 

5. Don’t be precious. 

Invest in cloth or linen napkins and please don’t iron them! Let them be wrinkled and carefree and leave the edges frayed and messy. This alongside the rose gold flatware will elevate any table. For it’s in the rudimentary or perceived flawed elements of life where the real beauty lies.

Tara Sgroi
Tara Sgroi

Shop Our Favorite Table Setting Décor:

Cultiver Panel Tablecloth

When in doubt, always turn to Mother Nature. This natural pure heavyweight linen fabric is timeless in its design—and please don't iron out the wrinkles!

CB2 Eyelet White Tablecloth

Lay down the foundation with neutral hues and add color through fresh clippings and food as décor inspired by the menu.

Etsy Natural Linen Tablecloth

Etsy is a treasure trove for table-setting décor. This natural linen tablecloth is custom-made and is also very affordable. Beautiful doesn't need to be expensive.

Etsy Ivory Gauze Runner

Athena used this guaze runner for a recent Vogue Living tablescape. So imperfectly perfect.

Cultiver Cara Edged Napkins

Made from 100% European flax, these modern napkins will look elegant against a stoneware plate with its contrast edging.

Jenni Kayne Frayed Linen Napkin

Leave it wrinkled and a little messy or in this case, let the edges be frayed and free. It's perfectly imperfect.

Crate & Barrel Marin Dark Natural Linen Dinner Napkin

Athena has turned to these Crate & Barrel linen napkins for countless table settings. They're affordable and classic.

Etsy Leather Cord

Get crafty with your tablescape and add a little DIY into the mix by tieing a piece of leather cord around your napkins atop your plate.

Burke Decor Luna Flatware 5-Piece Place Setting in Rose Gold

Consider mixing your metals on the table with rose gold flatware in a sleek modern design.

Crate & Barrel Dex Black 20-Piece Flatware Set

We love the juxtaposition of a neutral table with statement black flatware to break up the monotony.

Anthropologie Rediscovered Flatware

When in doubt, go vintage. This flatware provides visual interest and a hint of soul.

RW Guild Rinka Plate By Kaneko Kohyo

You've most likely seen Athena feature these porcelain plate designs on her Instagram and it's easy to see why. They instantly elevate any table design or meal with their beautiful hand-formed shape. They're also dishwasher safe!

Crate & Barrel Marin White Small Oval Serving Platter

You can never have too many serving platters and this one is the perfect combination of practical and pretty. It will still look good on the table even when the food is served!

Hawkins New York Shaker Stoneware Dinner Plate, Set of 4

Stoneware is such a solid investment when it comes to dinner plates. They elevate every meal, even the everyday!

Crate & Barrel Range Dinner Plate

Of course, Leanne Ford made the perfect dinner plate in her collaboration with Crate & Barrel.

Hawkins New York Organic Dinnerware, Medium Round Serving Bowl

Just like Mother Nature, these round serving bowls have an irregular, organic quality. Hand-painted in Portugal, you'll want to serve your weeknight meals in these beauties too.

Crate & Barrel Jett 3-Piece Serving Set

Don't forget about your serveware! These stainless, black satin finish beauties are elegant and timeless.

West Elm Ap Sidney Salad Server, Silver, Set Of 2

Serve your guests in luxe, sleek style with these modern salad servers designed by Aaron Probyn.

Pottery Barn Chateau Wood Cake Stand

Bring in varying textures using nature as your guide like this wood cake stand that can act as a pedestal for bowls of food, charcuterie, or to elevate a floral arrangement.

Crate & Barrel Form Pedestal

This is an Athena classic and has been used in many a tablescape designs. It's simple, understated, and lets the design atop it shine.

Lulu & Georgia Ceramic Taper Holders

This is yet another staple in Athena's table setting décor favorites. These ceramic taper holders are elegant, casual, and classic.

Crate & Barrel Marin White Small Taper/Pillar Candle Holder

Mix your surface styles with matte, rough, and glossy like this sleek taper candle holder that also acts as a decorative object.

Lulu & Georgia Taper Candles 12in, Greige (Set Of 8 Pairs)

Athena always leans towards beeswax, tapered candles for their neutral hues that blend in yet stand out amongst the tablescape design.

Pillar Beeswax Taper Candles

Nothing beats the natural beauty of beeswax candles. Let them drip and be messy!

Etsy Natural Paper Name Cards

Once again, organic and natural details reign supreme when it comes to name and place card holders. This is a lovely affordable option from Etsy.

Etsy Natural Handmade Paper With Deckle Edges

Handmade and only $5. Aren't they lovely?

Etsy Silk Ribbon Paper Name Tag

Elevate your name cards with a touch of ribbon. It slick, feminine fabric looks so pretty against the rough and raw paper.

Etsy Calligraphy Place Cards

This Etsy shop personalizes your name cards with beautiful hand drawn calligraphy.

Etsy Cedar Sage Smudge Sticks

Bring nature in wherever you can. Place a handmade smudge stick on each plate as a take-home gift for every guest.

Jenni Kayne Leather Coasters, Set of 4

Coasters aren't always something that work for every tablescape but this simple leather style will adapt to most designs with its neutral color.

Jenni Kayne Leather Napkin Rings, Set of 4

If you prefer napkin rings to a piece of string or cord, these handmade leather designs are the perfect finishing touch.

Pottery Barn Allison Rattan Handled Vase, Large

You know we're suckers for rattan at EyeSwoon HQ. This is a stunner for the middle of the table with fresh greenery and a branch or two.

Lulu & Georgia Alysha Vase

Just add water and a few fresh flowers!

Etsy Antique Small Clay Pot

Etsy is always our go-to for a vintage vessel.

Terracotta Matte Textured Medium Daisy Vase

Natural hues like terracotta are always a welcome addition to any tablescape design. Bright greenery will juxtapose so beautifully with this textured orange finish.

Lulu & Georgia Rae Beehive Lantern

Dim your overheads and light some tea candles to set the mood.

Anthropologie Willow Decorative Vase

A combination of our favorite vintage vessel with rattan—what more could you want?

Anthropologie Tropical Rattan Candle

Candlelight is always appreciated at the dinner table and encourages deep conversation.

Endlessly Elated Coupe Glasses, Set of 2

Get the night fizzing with a glass of champagne in these elevated coupes!

CB2 Marta Optic Tasting Glasses, Set of 8

Water can be beautiful too thanks to these tasting glasses with their stylish fluted texture.

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