We are still not quite finished with the pergola, it needs paint and wire run between the beams so the bougainvillea can grow over the top, BUT it hasn’t stopped us from already having a few gatherings with the new set up. People often think you need to have a ton of different sets of dishware for frequent entertaining or that you need an entire prop closet to set a beautiful table. Of course it helps, but for those of you that don’t have access to Martha Stewart’s prop room, I’m sharing a few tips to create a simple al fresco table inspired by Target‘s spring line.
1. Use what you have. I have two sets of dishware, one white and one black and I don’t think you need much more than that. If you are trying to start your own personal entertaining prop closet, I would say get a full 12 piece set of white before getting anything else. It lays a clean foundation and it’s easy to completely switch up the look with less expensive items. For flatware… I have one full set of modern gold, and a similar in stainless, but a while back I found this vintage 100 piece brass set and it happened to be a perfect match for Target’s “Summer Safari” collection, reinforcing the tropical vibe I’ve got going. When it comes to linens, no matter how casual the party, I still like to use cloth napkins if I can. Of course with my collection, I don’t have a shortage on those, but if you are just just getting started, I’d recommend choosing a simple pattern, like the black and white dot, that can go with almost anything but brings visual interest to the table. And finally, glassware, I use stemless wine glasses for everything. For water, wine, juice, cocktails, for everyday and for every gathering. I have like 30 of the same simple shape.
2. Skip the florals. Instead of a floral centerpiece I used these oversized vases to create a no fuss sculptural focal point.
3. Nature’s placemats. No placemats? No problem. To add just one more layer to the table I picked up some Monstera leaves for an inexpensive and disposable charger/placemat. It takes only about 2 seconds to throw these down first, but the visual impact is huge. Ferns would also work if you live in a woodsy area, you could just snip, snip, snip!
and finally #4. Bring the inside out! That is usually the other way around but creating an outdoor room is easy. Bring out your favorite pillows (I am obsessed with these macramé-esque ones), a cozy throw, and hang a mirror (art or a wall hanging could work too). This instantly creates a personalized outdoor space that makes dining al fresco even more special.
I’m so looking forward to many more dinner’s under the bougainvillea this summer. x
Photos by Sarah Sherman Samuel