How to Set a Special Outdoor Table with Ordinary White Dishes
In this post: If all you have are simple white dishes, you can still set a beautiful table. Here’s how one element can turn an ordinary dining table into an exceptional one.⇒
Do you ever look at beautiful table settings and then think, “yeah but, I only have one set of plain white dishes”?
Well, don’t despair! As it turns out, crisp white dishes are the ‘little black dress’ of tableware. Accessorize them and they can go anywhere.
White Dishes Tablescape
For this tablescape, I was thinking about transitioning seasons. With late summer rolling in and fall on the horizon, I wanted to set an outdoor table that was noncommittal to a particular season. Just simple white dishes in a lovely green setting. And only one element to dress it up…
The only thing providing color on this vibrant table is fresh flowers. Remove the flowers and you have essentially an all white table.
Not only all white, in fact, but also set with the plainest of white dishes. (See resource list below.)
With simple white plates, you can use almost any charger. Here I’ve used mother-of-pearl mosaic chargers for a bit of textured interest.
But what really defines this table and takes it out of the ordinary is the mix of florals.
I chose to keep the tableware very understated and let the florals do all the heavy lifting. Multiple bouquets in varied heights give this tablescape its personality and work perfectly in this garden setting.
I selected a range of vintage silver vases to present the arrangements. The silver pieces add a note of shimmer without taking away from the tonal underpinning of this tableau.
Cut crystal champagne flutes serve a similar purpose, adding elegance without being distracting.
The white embroidered napkins are gathered in a crystal ring, but the pink gerber daisies tucked inside take it up a notch. To get the same effect you can use any white napkins with various metal rings, as it’s the flower that makes the real statement.
I used a small embroidered tablecloth thrown askew, but again, any vintage white cloth will do.
If you think not owning formal china is preventing you from setting an elegant table, think again. With simple white dishes and a mix of gorgeous florals, your table settings can be quite exceptional!
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This table setting is elegant! I like the use of white plates and then the stunning colors of the fresh flowers. Is there a source to find faux SEEDED Eucalyptus?
Thank you, Nancy! I’m not aware of a source for faux seeded eucalyptus since I generally buy it fresh at Trader Joe’s and it’s very inexpensive. But I do sometimes dry the stems and keep them for a long time… 🙂
Hi Lory ~ I like your juxtaposition of crystal stemware, blingy napkin rings, silver tea service pressed into service to hold flowers and the mosaic chargers set on an outside wooden table with Mother Nature as the fresh, green background! How should I dress if I’m invited, LOL??
Summer elegance for sure..Although, I would need to hire help..If only to carry those gorgeous chairs.
Absolutely gorgeous. I don’t think you can ever go wrong with plain white dishes. You can dress the table up or down (said the woman with at least 10 sets of china)…lol…
I find myself often using just my plain white dishes though. Your flowers are spectacular. xo Diana
Thanks!! And haha, I too have lots of floral china, but sometimes you just have to go plain and simple and let the live flowers do the talking… 😉
Beautiful beyond reproach!!!! The flowers are just perfect! I love the brilliant colors with the silver pieces and against the white dishes. Perfection!
That was a really helpful post. Thanks, Lory!
Lory, you don’t do “ordinary.” This table is gorgeous. Those flowers are . . . exquisite. I love that you selected various shades of pink to add more complexity to the design. This table looks elegant, and effortless – the kind of thing that you might pull together at the last minute, and then run into your cutting garden and pick some flowers for the table. (Ha! Well, that’s the illusion, anyway; we know how long it really does take to put something like this together.). You’ve inspired me to try something like this for the summer, but I don’t even want to see the word “Fall” yet. Not ready for it by a long shot.
Your table is beautiful! We are so blessed to have such lovely choices. White and pink, white and blue or orchid. Even white and red in July, is a happy 4th choice!
This is absolutely gorgeous, Lory! One of my all time favorites! Your flowers are perfection!!
I have plain white plates, love the way you dressed these up! Thank you for the ideas!
Oh this is totally gorgeous! It’s probably my very favorite table and post ever, and that’s covering a lot of ground! 🙂 Thank you for the endless beauty and inspiration Lory – I love it here! ?
Lori, thank you so much for this post. I have been following your blog for several years now, and I just love your tablescapes! Years ago, I got rid of my pretty floral china because I wasn’t using it and it didn’t blend well with the color of my furniture. I replaced the floral china with solid white china. After seeing the beautiful tablescapes you have been creating with vintage china, I have been regretting my decision. I have been following estate sales, hoping to find a pretty set of vintage china. I saw a beautiful set of Limoges dishes that would have been perfect, but we had to be out of town during the estate sale. Just this past week I saw another pretty set at an upcoming estate sale. I made arrangements to view the china before the sale began to make sure the colors actually worked with my furniture, and then was disappointed when a family member chose to take the china prior to the sale. For me this post was quite timely, and it showed me that I can still do pretty things with the china that I presently own!
I’m so glad to hear you found it helpful! 🙂 As for the china, there will always be more sales coming!
Thank you. I have used white ironstone for years because it can be combined with seasonal serving pieces and accessories. The table is beautiful, although I think the two middle arrangements are a little high and could block visibility.
Thank you! Glad you appreciated it. Arrangements can always be moved… 🙂
So lovely! I like the outdoor setting.
Thanks so much!
I like that white plates are a nice table setting
because I use white paper plates all the time,
and I add the silver, also, when I remove the
labels from tin cans. I do not worry about having
a charger because I have them painted on the
table already. Entertaining an evening with a
sit-down meal can be hard to decide what silver-
ware to use so I make it very easy and just serve
finger food. My neighbor likes to present me with
her hippie flowers she use to wear in her hair for
the table centerpieces, disappointed no pink gerbera
daisies, but the color palette is all over the place
to make it exciting. As jarring as they may be, it can
help the hungry from not wanting to sit around a long time,
another reason finger food works well – able to pluck-n-go!
I want to make my ordinary special, should I include a napkin for guests? ? ? (Lory, just pulling your chain, forgive me. I LOVE white plates and white bedding and white towels, like you. Very classy! I know what I am doing for Thanksgiving to get away from those turkey plates, at least just once. Enjoy your day. )
I grew up with both parents and maternal grandmother only using white or at a push cream crockery. It also had to clear of any patterns. Looking at your tablescape took me back to my grannies house, as she set a full table every meal, either at her kitchen table for breakfast or the dining table for lunch and dinner.
I enjoy looking at your pretty tables all decked out for gathering. We don’t have family locally so we don’t have tables to decorate. I do enjoy making our dining table look nice so the centerpieces are helpful for ideas. I’ll live vicariously through your family and friends events. So pretty!
It is amazing that the addition of those beautiful flowers makes such a huge difference in the table setting. Just gorgeous table setting!!!
I just adore it when you break out the First Love silverware for your table settings. 🥰 That was my Momma’s silver and I still have it. I really need to use it more often.
Lovely ! Just upgraded my dishes to a new set of white…and love these ideas. Thanks for sharing !
Lory, you never fail to impress. I like the silver mixed in. I
like white cabinets, white walls and white dishes because you can change the accessories for every season. Add some flowers and good to go.
Years ago when outlets were everywhere, I would buy really nice salad plates to use with my white plates. Today you can pick up a few here and there at thrift shops. If you don’t need a lot, even better.
Thank you, Myrna! And I couldn’t agree more about using white as a base… 🙂