Living Space: Try these fresh ways to set a beautiful table

By Kathryn Weber
March 14, 2013 at midnight
Updated March 13, 2013 at 10:14 p.m.

Examples of some creative table settings shown above. No fancy centerpiece? Arrange napkins in your wine glasses to add height.

Examples of some creative table settings shown above. No fancy centerpiece? Arrange napkins in your wine glasses to add height.

Whether you're throwing a bridal shower, hosting a holiday party or just want to make an evening meal more special, adding a little something extra to your table setup will make the occasion more memorable. Using some simple swaps and changes, you can take your table from dull to dazzling.


Although there are no hard-and-fast rules about how to set a beautiful table, there is a prescribed pattern for how plates, silverware and glasses are arranged. For the basics, visit There you'll find the precise way to lay out your table, with simple tips, such as the fact that knife blades should always point toward the plate. Under "Table Setting Guides," you'll find the correct way to arrange a formal place setting, an informal one and a basic table setting. Once this is established, your creativity can take over.


Today's homeowners often have several sets of china, but there's no reason these can't be combined. China can be mixed with porcelain or crystal. In fact, it's the mix that makes it interesting. Look for commonalities in your serving ware, such as color, and work with table linens or flowers to pull out a specific shade or a contrasting one to make the place settings more interesting.


Don't be afraid to mix patterns, either. Even if your china patterns are different, you might be surprised how well they work with a plain white plate between them or simply stacked on one another. Have a lot of white plates? Break up the monotony by adding a colorful or patterned napkin between a dinner and salad plate or spread table runners across the table to work as two place mats. For drinks, try mixing different glassware types. Mix colored glasses with clear for a fun, funky look. Mix up your cutlery, too.


If you're looking for a way to add instant impact, go for height. A tall centerpiece can look fabulous. Instead of flowers and candlesticks, why not use a figurine flanked with fruit and flowers? Try a large porcelain bowl filled with blossoms or a sculpture to draw the eye to the center of the table. No time to shop for just the right piece? Simply use your wine glasses filled with napkins in an interesting fold ( to create visual interest quickly and easily.


To add a touch of fun, cut a piece of luan plywood to the size of your table and paint with chalkboard paint. Using colored chalk, draw outlines for place mats, napkins and silverware. Write everyone's name on the table to help guests find their seats. Leave extra chalk for doodling.

Create your own napkin rings by hot-gluing bobbles to ponytail holders. For something more substantial, buy lengths of copper tubing to wrap into spirals. Finish the end with a crystal or bead and the top with an artificial flower for a one-of-a-kind napkin ring.

Kathryn Weber is a home and decorating columnist and publishes the Red Lotus Letter feng shui ezine. For more information, contact Weber through her website,



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