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Kyle On: How I Set The Table

Wed, May 31, 2017

I love to entertain. It’s a trait that undoubtedly came from my mom. From the time I was a young girl, I always helped my mom set the table, whether that be for a large gathering she was hosting or a family dinner. I think that is why setting the table is my favorite part of entertaining {besides being with loved ones, of course!}

I have come to develop a sort of “process” approach to setting the table and I’d love to share it with you!

1. Like my mom, I start by considering the occasion or the “mood” I want to evoke. For example, if it’s a spring weeknight dinner and I’m having family over, I know I’m going casual and bringing in fresh florals and incorporating bright colors. If it’s a more festive occasion, I’ll kick it up a notch and add a few more formal touches.

2. Next, I decide on the color palette. I know this sounds a little over the top in comparison to how most people go about setting their table, but I guess it’s just the designer in me! Even if I’m not physically playing with color chips, I still find myself consciously considering the overall color scheme I want to use to bring out the other components that make up a set table. Sometimes I go with a monochromatic look and choose one color to highlight throughout all the materials, and then sometimes, I purposefully mix colors together to create a certain feel for an impactful table.

3. If it’s a larger event or a holiday like our Customer Convention or Thanksgiving {you can see how I set those tables here}, I create a document that we’ve come to call a “rough design.” This document resembles a mood board which I use to begin the planning process and to be able to easily edit along the way. Here’s an example of a rough design I created for a recent event:

4. Next comes the centerpiece. This is usually something that I try to make as easy as possible, while still thinking outside the box. This step is also something that’s usually driven the most by Step #1.  Like Mom, I rarely arrange flowers unless it’s a larger party, like a baby shower. Usually, I go to Trader Joe’s for their in-season selection of fresh blooms and either choose one variety or a few different types to group together in various containers down the center of the table. Fresh flowers are fun and happy and are very versatile for lots of different occasions. If I’m tight on time or am going for a more natural aesthetic, I cut greenery from my yard and arrange it the same way. This is especially easy for seasonal tablescapes - I try to consider foods or décor that make sense for that time of year when planning my centerpiece. For example, last October I grouped various shapes, sizes and colors of pumpkins down the middle of the table as a festive centerpiece. Different size clear bottles with melted taper candles set the tone for a more rustic setting. If you do not want to use florals, a big collection of small votives in interesting containers is a casual, yet impactful touch.

5. Next is the dishes. One would think that by working at Coton Colors, this step would come first! This step comes easiest to me when setting the table, especially if the color palette is set. Having endless options with our Swap Tabletop line and mixing in my own collection of dishes provides many opportunities to switch it up. I like to bring the color palette to life by always having more than one dish set on the table. Rarely will I stop at just a dinner plate. Having a dinner and salad plate creates a layered look that further supports the color palette. The salad plate can serve its namesake, or they can easily be gathered before everyone takes a seat and used as dessert plates later on. I find I use our Design Your Table feature on our website all the time for this – it’s so easy!

6. Choosing the napkin is next. This is another way to bring the color palette to life, OR if there’s already enough color, a traditional white napkin works great as well. I like to get a little untraditional here sometimes and place the napkins differently around the place setting to add a unique design element to the table. And no, I don’t mean folding it into a swan!

7. Glasses are the final touch, and add a shimmery, reflective element to the table. I like to layer in multiple glasses to fill in the table a bit more.

And that’s it! It may seem like a lot of steps, but when you get in the routine of setting your table this way, it becomes second nature. I would love to see the different ways you set your table. Make sure you tag #celebratewithcc in all your entertaining photos.

- Kyle Johnson Smith


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