Creative Table Decorating Ideas: Transform Your Dining Experience

a table setting in a dining room with mid-century furniture and a vase of flowers

Way before I started taking whole-room shots of my house for Instagram, I was always fascinated with flat lays and beautiful table décor on Pinterest.

In fact, my early Pinterest boards consisted of table setting ideas, food displayed on fabulous tableware and latte art (I’m now a little disappointed when my barista does not put an artfully drawn feather into the foam! I used to get upset when they called last orders at the bar, how my life has changed ).

How I want my breakfast every morning! Instagram – @bei.bei.wei

I always wanted to try out the table decorating ideas I’d seen on Pinterest, but with mismatched tableware and chipped glasses, I thought my attempts would be in vain!

My First Attempts at Styling

a wooden table with lights above and a window looking out over the garden
My early attempts at table setting. Instagram – @melaniejadedesign

My first proper attempts at table decor were pretty woeful. I’d always have a good go at Christmas to set the perfect table, which literally consisted of cutlery, some glasses for wine, Christmas crackers, and a centerpiece of flowers or baubles in a vase.

I thought that if I added any more table decor, it would make it extremely cluttered, and no room left for food. That was until I found out how much I enjoyed finding and sourcing beautiful tableware and creating a scene fit for a wedding (or your Mum coming over for a roast!).

Dining Table and Chairs

a dark blue wall with mirror, rectangular wooden table and scandi inspired chairs in the dining room
A Scandi-inspired dining room. Image: Etsy

Before we look at table decorating ideas, you need the perfect table and chairs to give a solid base for the look. I absolutely love reclaimed wood dining tables and find rectangular shapes easier to work into a space, especially if you can get extended versions (for that ONE day a year when you have more than 4 people around your table!).

Entertaining guests in your dining room requires a thoughtful setup, including table configuration, seating, lighting, table settings, decor, and accessibility. 

First of all, you need to ensure that the table is big enough to accommodate your guests comfortably without feeling too crowded. Round or oval tables promote conversation, as everyone can see each other, rectangular tables work well for larger gatherings.

a wooden dining table with matching benches in an industrial and rustic dining table
A herringbone style table, complete with benches – www.atkinandthyme.co.uk

I know a lot of people prefer rounded tables as it is easier to fit people around them, but they can often be harder to fit into what is normally a rectangular room. And the more rustic, the better!

I love tables with texture and history ingrained into the wood. Unfortunately, ours was quite cheap and due to having children, the varnish has been scrubbed off, felt tip and glitter added, and it is in very poor condition. So I purchased a wood effect cover from here – Jolee table cloths

My wood effect table cover doing a great job!

Chairs

a corner of a dining room with round table and rattan chairs

Chairs, I feel, are not so easy to pick. I love the contemporary look of the Eames-style dining chair and you can get them in so many different colors these days, that you really can achieve an original look.

I bought my white Eames style chairs from Lakeland Furniture – www.lakeland-furniture.co.uk and they are very child resistant (i.e. crayons, paint, and snot to name a few fluids) and easily wipe off.

However, these days I am drawn towards vintage-style chairs such as chairs that have been salvaged from skip yards or found in thrift stores. I think mixing these styles provides a unique and interesting look.

A stunning example of mixing vintage dining chairs from the Queen of table styling – Instagram: @sixat21

Creative Table Decorating Ideas

Table decor is more than just making your table look beautiful, it’s an integral part of creating a memorable dining experience. Whether it’s a casual family meal, a romantic dinner for two, or a festive holiday gathering, dining table decor can set the tone and ambiance of the meal.

Everyday Table Decorating Ideas

The most beautiful table setup – Image: H&M Home Get a similar tablecloth from Bimago

Once you have your furniture in place, you need to decide how to decorate it. Do you go with a tablecloth or a runner? Do you add foliage and candles, or keep it simple with the food displayed on beautiful rustic serving boards? And what about placemats?

Creating a relaxed and homey vibe for your dining table decor is all about embracing simplicity, comfort, and personal touches. Here are some tips to help you achieve that cozy atmosphere for a casual family dinner:

  1. Use Natural Materials: Wood, linen, and other natural textures add warmth to the table setting. Consider using wooden bowls, bamboo placemats, or linen napkins.
  2. Choose Soft Colors: Soft, neutral tones like beige, light brown, and pale blues and greens can create a calming and inviting ambiance.
  3. Incorporate Everyday Items: Using your daily dinnerware rather than formal china can make guests feel more at ease. Mixing and matching dishes can add charm and a personal touch.
  4. Add Personal Touches: Consider handwritten place cards or personal notes for guests. Share family recipes or incorporate favorite family dishes to add a sentimental and homey touch.
  5. Create Simple Centerpieces: Something as simple as a bowl of fresh fruit, a potted herb, or a vase with wildflowers can add life without being overwhelming.
  6. Utilize Soft Lighting: Avoid harsh overhead lighting. Instead, opt for candles or string lights to create a warm and gentle glow.
  7. Incorporate Comfortable Seating: Cushioned chairs, or even benches with pillows, can make seating more inviting and comfortable.
  8. Encourage Family Style Dining: Serving dishes family-style (in large bowls or platters on the table) encourages a more communal and relaxed dining experience.
  9. Avoid Overcrowding the Table: Give your guests space to move by not overcrowding the table with too many decorative elements.
a round dining table with rattan chairs in a blue dining room
Sometimes, less is more

Personally, I think that if you have a beautiful rustic setting, it would be a shame to cover it up with a tablecloth, so a runner would be perfect to soften up the décor. And if you’re not using a cloth, placemats are perfect to add texture and color and of course, protect your table from spillage, (gravy stains I’m looking at you!)

If you’re looking to enhance your table styling, consider a custom 6ft tablecloth from Logoclothz, which can add a unique and branded touch to your tables.
 
a blue and gold navy runner on a table
A beautiful navy blue and gold runner – Fox & Ivy

Once you’ve chosen your table runner, think about placemats to finish your table decor display. Natural materials like jute and wicker work best as they go with most tablecloths and runners and help add warmth to the dining table. 

Tableware

The beautiful Studio Blue collection by Denby Pottery

No table setting is complete without complimentary tableware, cutlery and glassware. I’ve recently painted my kitchen dark blue with copper accents and I am absolutely loving the Studio Blue range from Denby Pottery. It’s a beautiful stoneware collection featuring plates, jugs and mugs which are ideal for informal dining.

They have bowls in various sizes, including pasta and cereal bowls and large serving bowls which are perfect for a centerpiece salad. I am also loving gold and copper cutlery at the moment, I think they provide that little bit of luxury, especially if you team it with gold-rimmed or stemmed glassware.

Adding a touch of sophistication to daily meals doesn’t necessarily mean an elaborate or expensive effort. Investing in good-quality plates, bowls, and glassware can make even the simplest meal feel special. A timeless white set can be particularly versatile and elegant.

Now the Fun Part, Table Setting Ideas …

a corner of a dining room with table cloth, table laid out for dinner, vintage artwork and flowers

Finally, with the all-important tableware and crockery laid out on the table, you can finish your setting with napkins and fill in the gaps with candles, foliage, plinths and serving boards.

Napkins

a table set with napkins and eucalyptus
Image: Dunelm
napkins with white hearts
Heart Print napkins – The White Company

Napkins can be laid underneath the plates or carefully folded and tied with foliage, ribbon or string. Simple napkin folding techniques can add an elegant touch, even using cloth napkins instead of paper can make all the difference to your table decor.

Foliage and Flowers

eucalyptus in a vase on a dining table

With a lot of detail already on the table, keep the foliage simple with eucalyptus, fern or ivy laid along the center or placed in a vase. You could also get a little creative by placing foliage in clear bottles and placing candles in the neck.

A small vase of fresh flowers or a potted succulent can add life and sophistication to your table decor.

Plinths and Serving Boards

a wooden table with large wooden plinth
Plinths are a great table addition, use your imagination on how to style it – Instagram: @wabhome

Plinths are an ideal addition if you are planning to put hot dishes straight out onto the table for people to help themselves. Using mini plinths like these ones from WAB Home is great if you are running out of space.

In my eyes, one of the most important additions to your table décor is a beautiful rustic serving board. They can be used for any meal occasion… placing a hot pot of tea with condiments and pastries out for breakfast, displaying bread and meats for people to help themselves at lunch, or using it as a cheese board at a dinner party.

There are so many wonderful variations out there these days, you do not have to be confined to wood. You can choose from slate, granite, glass or one of my favorite materials, marble.

A very festive serving board – Home Sense

Lighting and Candles

With a lot of table decor already set, a single, or 2 or 3 elegant candles can create a sophisticated ambiance without feeling overly formal. Make sure the rest of your lighting is soft and dimmable to create a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.

You can create this by adding ambient lighting in the form of table and floor lamps with soft, warm bulbs. These can be placed in corners or on side tables to provide gentle illumination.

Draping string lights around the room or across the dining table can add a whimsical touch. Opt for warm white lights for a more sophisticated look.

a table setting with vintage artwork and furniture

So, there you have it, a few little ideas on how to turn your dining table decor from drab to fab! You can make it as simple or as fancy as you like, and it doesn’t have to cost the earth. I hope you found some inspiration in this post and look forward to creating your own table setting ideas.

Disclosure: Some of the links above are affiliate links, meaning that at no additional cost to you, I will receive a very small commission if you click through and make a purchase. These links help to pay the editorial costs of writing a blog. For more information, read my full affiliate disclosure here.

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5 Comments

      1. The one that has this description, I love it and have not found another like it
        “Plinths are a great table addition, use your imagination on how to style it – Instagram: @wabhome“

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