How to Design A Summer Backyard Tablescape

Summer is here and so is backyard entertaining! Creating an inviting space for your guests is easy when you follow my five steps to tablescape design.

5 Steps to Table Design

  1. Think in Layers
  2. Mix and Match
  3. Details Matter
  4. Keep it Simple
  5. Flower Power

Start planning your tablescape design with a bit of inspiration. I typically begin my tablescape planning by looking on Pinterest or I make a quick trip to my local craft store to spark design ideas that help me to determine my overall design. Inspiration comes from a lot of different places, sometimes magazines or social media help to influence my overall design.

Next, I start implementing my five steps starting at the top of the list, “Think in Layers.” Linens are the foundation to your overall design and will create an inviting outdoor entertaining space. I like to keep the linens simple when setting up my outdoor tablescape. A table runner is a good option because it is a great way to add a pop of color, but not take up too much of the natural elements such as a beautiful teak tabletop. A lightweight white linen is also another great neutral that can express a clean summer aesthetic.

In the summertime I always like to play with pops of color, patterns and some of the traditional summer icons, such as pink flamingos. It’s easy to go overboard with one theme so using a flamingo for example should be considered a detail item and spread throughout the overall design. “Mix and Match” is step two of tablescape design. Plaids, stripes, and florals all come together to create a magical tablescape design. In this tablescape design I started with a textured rattan charger and used the layering method with a mix match of design elements. The brightly colored grid plate, layered with a palm leaf and garnished with disposable flatware and napkin. While all of these elements are not the same, they complement each other through colors and the overall summer tablescape theme.

My tablescape design and events are known for the attention to detail and I truly believe that “Details Matter.” I try to incorporate a few items that will surprise my guests or inspire them at their next hosting event. I like to take two to three design details and repeat them at least twice throughout the entire design. Can you find the repeated details in this summer tablescape?

This summer tablescape design is full of details, starting with the ribbon tied around the disposable flatware. Ribbon makes a great accessory to outdoor place settings for many reasons. From texture to design detail, it helps to add a final layer to the tablescape design. Using ribbon around a set of flatware and a napkin also takes the guess work out of trying to carry all of these items back to the table after walking through a buffet line. Using the flamingos as a summer iconic detail, I incorporated them into the ribbon and again with the wine glass markers. Palm leaves were also a subtle detail that I incorporated beginning with the floral arrangement and again on the place setting.

Texture is important in a design, and I’ve woven a classic rattan throughout the entire design from the flower vase to chargers and again as a beverage serving tray.

Peony flowers are another repeated design element that is incorporated into the floral design and again on the stemless wine glasses.

And one final detail, the beautiful and colorful tropical bird in the floral arrangement. My tablescape designs often come with one small easter egg moment or a conversation starter when guests first sit down. Details like this can be an ice breaker to get the party started.

It’s easy to feel overwhelmed when planning a dinner party and sometimes the last thing you want to do is create yet another element of designing a show stopping tablescape. “Keep it Simple” is the next step and a design tip that I constantly have to remind myself of when I’m setting up the tablescape design. It’s very easy to clutter a table with unnecessary items. Before I set out to purchase items, I will start by taking an inventory of the items I have on hand that I could use in my tablescape design after I have decided on an overall theme. For example, rattan chargers are a great spring and summer staple that I have used in countless designs. Next, I look around the house for items that could be repurposed, such as the flamingo ribbon. While I did not purchase the flamingo ribbon to be used to tie together the flatware, I did not have the napkin rings on hand for this shoot that I felt went well with the overall theme, so I improvised! Dinner parties are about gathering and fellowship, these are the most important details that you won’t want to forget when setting up your summer tablescape.

Finally, the showstopping piece to the tablescape and the element that pulls every detail together is the floral arrangement. “Flower Power” as I like to call it, brings the element of life to the table before your guests sit down. Floral arrangements add a pop of color and welcome your guests to gather around the table. Don’t be afraid to mix in a few pieces of faux floral, such as the palm leaves in my design. If there is a flower or leaf that is not readily available to you, it’s ok to mix it into the arrangement with the help of your local florist. In this arrangement I worked with Tricia Barskdale Designs who provided individual stems and coached me on how to incorporate the palm leaves into the arrangement.

Leave a comment telling me what you think about this tablescape design and what I should design next!

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