Maison Margaux is a luxury British homeware store selling everything from beautiful linens, tableware, candles, cutlery, glassware, bespoke accessories and more. So, we couldn’t think of anyone better to talk us through how to design the perfect dinner party table.
When laying our tables, we always start with the table linen – this provides the backdrop to everything and can instantly transform the simplest of tableware. Once you’ve decided on the table linen, the rest will fall into place. We have the most beautiful summer linen prints and some incredible patterns for autumn/ winter, for example we’d recommend the Eden tablecloth; it’s made from 100% linen with 50% of proceeds going to the Lady Garden foundation. Or, try our green petals look – it’ll take you from summer to autumn with ease and work all year round.
Layer your tableware for a ‘magazine style’ curated look
At Maison Margaux we work with the ‘rule of three’. Layer your tableware to give a chic, curated look to your table.
Start with a beautiful placemat, either linen or wicker, but if this doesn’t suit use a charger plate. On the placemat, add a dinner plate and pudding or salad plate. Go bold with the pudding plate as it’s what guests will see first, for example: if Italian food is served, choose fun lemon motifs to reflect the warm Italian nights by the sea, or animal motif plates to match the guest’s personalities. Make the plates a talking point.
Make sure to use three glasses: two for wine and one water.
Note: Make sure the setting is already stacked when guests arrive so the table looks beautifully laid. Whisk the top two plates away five minutes before your guests are seated and use them to serve the food.
Think about linens
As we said in The Guardian: “napkins are the new fashion”.
Adding linen on top of your tableware can create a look which is soft and elegant. Experiment with the colour and shape, how to fold them and how to tie them. Use either wicker bows or thick ribbon from your local haberdasher to tie them. For a more formal look, match the linens to the placemats. Or for a truly special event, use an embroidery company to personalise napkins to each guest.
Consider your cutlery
Gone are the days of plain silver or gold cutlery. Now it’s all about bamboo and brightly coloured cutlery. Bamboo is lovely for September tables, it crosses over the rustic feel of summer with autumnal browns.
We like to keep it quite loose with flowers, hand picked from your garden are often the best. Use different sized jugs/ vases or little pots, but don’t be too matchy matchy. Add lemons, vine tomatoes, limes or florals to the table itself for a laid back beautiful Indian Summer feel.
When it comes to water glasses, make sure to use interesting glassware which is coloured. The wine glasses should have a thin stem with a large pour that looks beautiful.
‘Do’ go for a table plan
No matter how small the gathering, creating place cards is a must. It shows guests you’ve thought about them, it takes away that awkward moment when everyone sits down, and allows you to place people next to each other who will get on well.
Creating menus is another nice touch, place to the side of the table setting or on top of the plates and beneath the napkins. Our go to designers are Romeo & Jules, Sophie Roberts Calligraphy, Susannah Garrod, or if you’re on a budget, Papier have some wonderful templates you can order within three days.
Always use candlelight and dim overhead lights. There is nothing more romantic and atmospheric than candlelight. Use glass holders if eating outside to keep the flame going. And only light five minutes before guests are seated to avoid them burning out. Again, don’t be too matchy matchy, sometimes the more eclectic the better.
Try our stunning swirl Italian candles along with glass candlestick holders.
Don’t overlook the smaller items on the table. Think about your salt and pepper shakers, water jugs, wine decanters, pinch pots, tea light holders etc. The devil is in the detail and these small touches will go a long way.
Feed the soul
Always cook as much as you can ahead of time. Go to your local deli and pick up fresh breads, delicious dips and cheeses, nuts and olives to create a large mezze sharing board for guests to graze on when they arrive. The more you’ve prepared beforehand, the more you can relax and enjoy the night.
And finally, music is good for the soul, be sure to have music on arrival, it will create the vibe you want for the evening. Slow and relaxed or fun, cocktail vibes.
And voila! Your perfect table and evening is ready.
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