In this post: Love entertaining but don’t want to spend a fortune? Try these informal table setting ideas to create an insanely gorgeous table on a budget.⇒
I’ve been wearing the same lipstick every day for the past, um… at least ten years. Probably longer.
Oh sure, I’ve tried to find other colors that look well on me, but somewhere along the way I finally admitted I hated them all and tossed them. Then I bought multiples of my favorite color and felt satisfied. (Seriously, at one point I had 55 of them!)
But when it comes to my table, totally different story. You see, my table looks good in lots of colors and hence it’s the one place I am totally free to indulge myself. My table doesn’t look fat in white. Or florals. Or pastels.
When I entertain, I absolutely love to change it up and create something new each time. A well-dressed table helps me express my personal style and makes my heart sing. It’s what makes my house a home and a place I love to share with my guests.
But who can afford to buy countless sets of dishes?
As it turns out, lots of people can and I’m going to show you how!
Today I’m sharing tips and ideas for mixing well-priced products with what you already own to produce something new and truly special. For this post I’ll be exploring informal table setting ideas for setting a gorgeous table on a budget.
1. Plan your concept
I start every table with a concept. I’m sure it’s left over from my days as a fashion designer when each collection had a theme, but often my concepts are inspired by a single visual element. In tablescaping, as in fashion, one fabulous print makes a great starting point.
In this case, I chose a delicious water color fruit pattern. It’s lush and beautifully painted and felt right for this time of year, a time I’m firmly rooted in summer, but already thinking of transitioning to fall.
*Money saving secret: One word. Melamine. Have you ever noticed the prettiest patterns are often printed on outdoor dinnerware? Sometimes you have to get really close to realize that’s what they are. Embrace the ease and lower cost of melamine plates. For an informal table setting, they’ll look gorgeous on your indoor table and your wallet will thank you.
2. Select the supporting cast
With my central pattern chosen, I next select pieces that will complement it. If I’m working around a dynamic print, I often choose textures or subtle tonal prints.
Here I played with two chargers staying within the bounds of a predominantly white palette. For summer I love the white round rattan chargers, which are reminiscent of the furniture you’d find at a beach house. As we get closer to the fall, I’d use the same dinnerware pattern and mix it with the light brown rattan chargers.
*Money saving tip: It matters where you shop. For the key elements on the table, such as the main pattern and the foundational pieces, find well priced items on sale or at discount shops.
3. Add a touch of glimmer
Even the most informal tables can benefit from a little touch of bling. Think silver candelabra on a picnic blanket. On the dinner table, you can get away with a bit more. I decided at the concept stage that my pop color would be gold. The gold ombre hurricanes deliver an extra warm glow along with the candlelight they serve up. Likewise, the gold trimmed glassware adds a reflective note of radiance.
*Money saving trick: Use serving bowls or left over plates from your dinner set to enhance the look of your candlesticks or table centerpiece.
4. Mix in one or two higher-end pieces
This one is my favorite tip of all time and the defining principle of the way I approach design and styling. If you’ve been following my blog for some time, you’ve probably heard me say this before: If you’re carrying a Chanel bag, no one is going to think your earrings are cubic zirconia. In other words, save money on 90% of the things on the table (or in your house or in your wardrobe). Then splurge on something fabulous that upgrades the entire enterprise.
It should be something classic that you can use over and over again, so that you can get your money’s worth over time. On this table, I added vintage champagne flutes, which have played a similar role on many of my tables.
5. Add something unusual or unique
It doesn’t have to be big or expensive, but it’s always lovely to add something to your table that you can’t find in the neighborhood mall. Much like the addition of a higher-end piece, adding a rare find helps bring your table to the next level, adding further individuality.
These sweet little tulip votives are something I’ve been wanting to use for a long time, but until I set this particular table, I’d never found the right place to use them.
The charming colors of the Pomme plates mixed with the glow from the golden glassware created the perfect atmosphere for my blush pink candle holders. Don’t ask me where I got them because they’re from an artisan shop in Santorini. They’re just here to show you how including something from your travels combines so nicely with more accessible decor, adding one more aspect of your personal signature to your table.
6. Don’t forget flowers
There’s no question, the crowning touch to any table is a rich display of fresh flowers. Sometimes I use several bouquets and other times a singular luxurious centerpiece, but I always add the florals last and I love when they mirror my table theme. As I typically do, for this table I took photos of the set table with me to the florist where I selected the blooms that would play off the pattern in the plates. This way, I could choose what to highlight and what to blend with, in order to amplify the key pieces in the tablescape.
An informal table setting doesn’t have to be a poorly designed one, nor do you have to spend a fortune to style one that looks great. Using well priced table decor makes it possible to create beautiful tablescapes when you entertain and to change them often as the spirit moves you.
And let’s face it. Shopping for gorgeous dinnerware patterns is infinitely more fun that buying the same lipstick 55 times!
Informal Table Setting Ideas Resource List
To get the look, click on the items below for direct links to the products. Where actual items were no longer available, I’ve provided similar options. If an item is out of stock but may be restocked, I left it on the list.
(This post contains some affiliate links for your convenience. Click here to read my full disclosure policy.)
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