As we start to open our doors and invite small gatherings into our homes after this weird period of separation, we are reminded of the simple pleasures of sitting around a table with our loved ones. The humble act of gathering to share a meal, to cook, eat, talk and connect.
Long summer evenings spent lingering at the table, catching up on our days, hearing my childrens’ long monologues about some fanciful adventure that may (or may not) have occurred, is a magical end to the day.
Whether I am preparing a meal for a special occasion or an easy supper for my family, I enjoy the process of laying the table. It was a task I was encouraged to do as a child, and is something I now do with my children.
While the food I prepare is often very simple, I enjoy the creative process of making it look beautiful on a plate, creating a feast for the eyes, making mealtimes special and honouring the quality ingredients I enjoy sourcing.
During the summer months there is such an abundance of fresh produce available, you can easily prepare a delicious meal without slaving over a stove. I buy mixed seasonal fruit and vegetable boxes directly from British farms and the bounties of these boxes usually dictate what comes to our plates. We make lots of homemade pesto which we drizzle over all manner of things, good fresh bread, a platter of local cheese. Add a glass of chilled wine – perfection!
I don’t think you can go wrong when setting a table. Antiquated rules of cutlery and glass placement can be ignored. We never ‘save our china for best’ as many did in the past, but enjoy using beautiful tableware every day. All that really matters is you have what you need to enjoy a relaxing meal and you enjoyed the process of laying your table.
Eating food with people you love should be enjoyable, not stressful, so whether you are sharing paper plates or using handmade ceramics – invite your favourite people over for food and relish the pleasure of great food and company!
Here are some tips on how to create and style a beautiful summer table…
Table linen - when laying a table, I start with the table linen. I love washed linen in natural muted tones. I never iron it; the soft creases and curled edges only make it more beautiful. I generally use a runner as a focal point through the centre of the table.
Placemats - these raffia placemats and coasters define a place setting beautifully and protect delicate table surfaces.
Ceramics - I love handmade ceramics, the irregularities, the depth of colour, their tactile nature. My absolute favorite ceramicist is Brickett Davda, her forms are incredibly elegant and her earthy colour palette is stunning! She is very busy, so you have to wait a long time for her orders, but it is worth every day of the wait.
Beeswax candles - clean and non-toxic, the subtle, warm scent of honey is addictive. I like to set candles at varying heights and regularly mix our small stubby candles and dinner candles.
Fresh cut flowers - single buds cut from the garden, mixed with foliage and herbs in recycled glass vases or placed in tiny bouquets within a place setting, add the finishing touches to a table.
Small plants and succulents - tiny baskets with trailing plants and small cacti look great mixed in with flowers and candles.
Colour - I love to mix muted tones; mineral tones of greys, pinks and stone look great together.
Table brush - a natural and discreet way to brush away crumbs from your table in-between courses.
Comfort - long lunches and dinners call for extra comfort; add soft cushions and sheepskin rugs to bench seating.