What, When, Where: Table Manners

April 29, 2013

By Erin Marvin

I recently moved into a smaller space, and my home décor is still a work in progress. So when I invited a good friend over for pasta and wine a few weeks ago, I didn’t exactly have a dining room table for us to sit and eat at. What I did have, exactly, was a small fold-up wood table that normally belonged outside. Still, with a chip-free set of dishes, matching silverware and colorful linens tucked through capiz napkin rings, I thought the meal still felt special.

Which got me thinking about place settings in general: usually the only time we see an elaborate setup is at a wedding or charity event. Speaking for myself (and most of the people I know), we rarely pull out the china, linens, crystal and place cards in our own abode. After all, who has the time or energy after a long day? But putting those linen napkins on my tiny teak table made me realize how easy adding a little style to your supper can be.

A white tablecloth is a staple, and not something you need to save for special occasions. This hand-embroidered linen from Sferra has beautiful French knot detailing along the edge.

Sferra French Knot tablecloth; Photo courtesy of sferra.com

Placemats are great for adding a pop of color or texture – and for catching the occasional crumb. I’m partial to this Pressed Filigree style from Chilewich.

Chilewich Pressed Filigree placemat; Photo courtesy of chilewich.com

Cloth napkins are probably the easiest way to add everyday elegance to your table, and the color and pattern options are endless. Here are a few of my favorites:

John Robshaw’s modern print comes in rich hues; Photo courtesy of bloomingdales.com

Tile napkins from Kim Seybert are 100-percent linen; Photo courtesy of bloomingdales.com

I love the easy, breezy attitude of these French Market napkins from Juliska; Photo courtesy of juliska.com

And check out this amber knot napkin ring to hold everything together:

Juliska’s Knot napkin ring; Photo courtesy of juliska.com

This silver ring is a pretty nod to one of my favorite herbs:

Sage napkin ring from Table Art; Photo courtesy of barneys.com

And while white plates are a great staple, sometimes it’s fun to mix things up (especially when you’re on your second night of leftovers).

From Urban Oasis, the Ripple Collection’s organic beauty is heightened by a dark gray glaze; Photo courtesy of lekkerhome.com

This colorful Provence and Amalfi dinnerware has an unexpected surprise: it’s made of melamine! Photo courtesy of neimanmarcus.com

Finally, it can’t hurt to switch up your stemware from time to time, just to keep things fresh and interesting.

The Woodbury glassware from Simon Pearce is a modern, multi-faceted blend of form and function; Photo courtesy of simonpearce.com

Color comes home with these William Yeoward crystal Vita goblets; Photo courtesy of bloomingdales.com