Design:

A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!

Words by Athena Calderone.

I realize how intimidating it can be to create delicious, enticing food and set a gorgeous table, but as I always say, beautiful doesn’t have to be complicated. While I’m drawn to aesthetics, my style is certainly rooted in simplicity and accessibility—and this creative credo guided the tabletop design in our Crate & Barrel collection. I wanted to take the guesswork out of setting a table by designing utilitarian pieces that are also worthy of display. With a little thoughtful planning and a few timeless pieces, anyone can execute simple ideas that appear to be far more sophisticated or difficult than they actually are. 

I designed the plates to look just as beautiful on their own as they are stacked; the cheese board, cut from a rosy, terracotta-hued marble looks just as striking on your shelf as it does on your table; and the small bowls that many use for prep, double as decorative objects, too. Everything can, and will, look just as eye-catching beyond the kitchen as it does on your table—don’t you just love an object that does double duty? 

As a visual person, I also love to see the food on the dish: the color, the texture, the beauty but I struggled to find bowls that were shallow enough for serving salad, pasta, or grain dishes. So many of them were too high and swallowed the food within the bowl. When you arrange food in an artful way, you want it to draw the eye and engage the senses on the plate and on the table, so I created very wide and shallow bowls to do both—service with style! With a few beautiful, multi-functional pieces, anyone can pull together a stylish dinner party easily and quickly. So, keep reading to learn a few more of my tabletop design tenets, then shop the look to bring it home.

A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!
A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!

Break up the visual plane

Style a table as you would a room using scale and verticality to create visual cues that intrigue the eye and break up the monotony. Just be sure your pieces aren’t too high that they block the view and inhibit conversation from across the table, hehe! The Noyou candle holders add that visual diversity while also evoking intimacy at the table with the candle’s warm glow.

Consider serving buffet style

Serving your meal in a casual way can still be beautiful and elevated. Set up an abundant self-serve station with cutlery, stackable plates, decorative bowls filled with snacks, and anything else your guests need to serve themselves, then mingle about as they nosh. I designed the tableware collection with this in mind—there’s a myriad of bowls in various heights and sizes for jams, olives, nuts, and dips. Because let’s face it, we all love to gather around the kitchen island as opposed to being confined to a formal dinner! That’s where the magic happens.  

A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!

“There is an undeniable magic in the emotional power of a beautiful plate of food.”

Forage for decorative touches 

I am certainly known to walk outside, clippers in hand, to snip a little bit of nature for my table décor. The Cannelée vessels were designed for this very purpose. Head outdoors and snip your favorite “something”—a leaf, a pine branch, a dried pod, a herb. Use whatever you can find in the home (twine, old ribbon, oranges, pomegranates) and get crafty with what you discovered both in nature and indoors. No need to go to the store, this tip is about working with what you got. 

Food can be décor, too

If you’re planning a tablescape, let the food and the seasons guide you, from the palette to the décor! Fruits and vegetables from the market simply placed on the table can make an elegant impact. I can envision the Délicat pedestal with black-ended champagne grapes cascading over the lip or whatever fresh, bright, and verdant vegetables and fruit you find at the farmer’s market. Or petit pears with their leaves still clinging to them sprinkled down the table. Less is more, inventive décor is more, and not being wasteful is most certainly more! Overall, a more thoughtful and casual approach to tabletop feels refreshing. 

A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!
A Beautiful Tablescape Doesn’t Have to Be Complicated—Here’s How!

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