Should you let your budget dictate what you can or cannot put in your next home celebration tablescape? How about the chance not to spend any money at all?

YOU DESERVE to treat yourself from all the dinner reservations and cocktails Wednesday cancellations with your favorite people. With the ‘new normal’ greeting us with a new lifestyle for the next couple of months, this is now your chance to lay back on your fresh duvet sheets, with a glass of wine, reading your go-to fashion magazine and simply reel in the presence of home. Being at home majority of the time, isn’t such a bad thing, now you can spend your time designing your dream home after all.

Dining at home, is another practice that should be kept, quarantine-wise or not, it is however, now the chicest and convenient way to experience all of those fun-filled dine-out evenings that your miss. Although the term “tablescape” might be a little intimidating but with a little advice on styling and design will help you achieve that Instagram-able look that will surely bring satisfaction to your followers, to your feed and most of all, to yourself.

These days, we live in a world where aesthetically pleasing, ready-made items and accessories are easily available. I would like to believe that the secret to entertaining one’s guest when invited to their home is their personal touch in how they design their home. It doesn’t need to be complicated. With a keen eye for style and basic knowledge on design, you can orchestrate different essentials to come up with an exquisite masterpiece.

Setting up your table is a lot a like dressing yourself. You do it to impress yourself and your guests. Diverting my thoughts about that Jacqemus dress with my tablescape articulation. (A pre-pandemic buy, so this is an exception!)

Applying my own personal fashion and design philosophy to my tablescape, I learn to maximize what I can style on my table. No matter how extravagant or flamboyant one’s style may be, it’s all about affixing your signature style on any piece you design.

The frustrations of not going out to dress-up and enjoy a night out with friends made me think of creative but fun ways to entertain myself. Of course, I can’t invite my friends to my house for brunch and I can’t go to theirs and I also can’t go to your home and teach you personally how to style your table so for I decided to make you a list on how to effectively and easily style your table without spending a single centavo from your purse.

Find Your Tablescape Inspiration

Whether it’s a picture of something you have been pinch zooming on Instagram or Pinterest or a place that you want to be at the moment. During this lockdown, my mind is taking me to the beautiful picturesque sunset on the beach, serene waves calming me, and that perfect Net-a-Porter sundress I have been sticking to my cart since I don’t know when!

Perhaps inspiration can be found right outside your window. | Photo from Vogue Living

So, take the white sand you imagine in the palm of your hands, soft and clean, lay it down on your table on top of that crisp, white linen that will instantly transform it to an impromptu fine dining experience. Get inspiration from the beautiful hues of the sunset and bring out your ombre salad bowls. Imagine the barks of the nature and incorporate that handmade luxury basket or placemat you can get from your plate room, match the clear blue water of the sea with those blue tall glasses you got from S&R, and voila! You now get the visuals!

Creating a vibe from something that inspires you can spike up your urge to style your tablescape and let your imagination cross boundaries. It’s all about finding what makes you happy, contented and taking that into your home.

Clean Your Slate

The road to tablescape success is paved with effective cleaning aids. | Photo from Casa Gusto | Aesop

Literally and figuratively speaking, start by clearing your table—start refreshing your base.

One of the lessons we learned from this pandemic is not to underestimate dirt. It is obviously very innate in us right now to be hygienic and it’s also part of fine dining etiquette to have a germ-free environment. Dust out all unforgivable condiment marks and stains from your table and check your table for broken legs and edges. Polish it with the appropriate cleaning aids, whether you have a wood or glass top, I am pretty sure at this point in time you already hoarded enough cleaning supplies in your home. Wash your plates and utensils and shine those precious silvers because nothing is fancier than to dine in a nice hotel-ish smelling dining room. It will elevate your senses and will definitely set up an appetizing experience.

Glorify Your Plates and Accessories

Have fun mixing and matching key pieces in the table. | Photo from Good Housekeeping | Veranda Magazine

Bring out those plates you have been saving for Christmas! You don’t need an occasion to eat on your hard-earned pretty plates, you can even opt to mix your Selettis with your ordinary white plates—the key in pairing is harmony, highlight pieces that can elevate your plate game. Look around your kitchen with possible plate character, it can be something with a statement print too. An old country-grandma-ish kind of plate that you always hated can perk up your Dolce & Gabbana themed look.

Your impeccable plates, cutlery, glasses, and accessories selection can be matched with your department store finds. Get the ones that you don’t get to see everyday to spice up your usual plates because most of the time everything we buy is sold in a set. The secret to transforming a well put vignette is follow your intuition, it’s your identity. Remember the saying you are what you eat? Let your plates and glasses add to that description.

Admit it or not, you feel special every time you see your name on a place card, personalize and give the same feelings to your family by being creative. Make use of your old trinkets and bring out your inner Martha Stewart. Decorate with your favorite things: photographs, jewels, and precious stones, you can even write a love letter for keepsake. Take a step back and cherish the thought of having the luxury to do this now. Have fun, enjoy your quality time with your loved ones.

Explore Your Garden and Fridge

Keep it fresh and colorful with fruits, vegetables, and plants. | Photo from Good Housekeeping

Before you join the dried flowers bandwagon, take a look at your garden or backyard. From your own little farm or hacienda, get those greens, decorate and bring in your potted plants. Roam around and you might even see a nice-looking flower you were ignoring pre-pandemic.

Now is the time to be resourceful. Cultivate your inner “plant tita”. Flowers and plants can energize the whole vibe of your table. Proper proportioning is also important, you wouldn’t like your Phalaenopsis interfering your bolognese! Mix different objects of varying heights to give dimension to your arrangement. I always stock up with nice acrylic square boxes to elevate my arrangements since it will look invisible around.

Visit your fridge and borrow those carrots and lettuce to decorate your steak board—master the art of food. Take advantage of that left over croissant and gorgeous blueberries that you’re saving for your #foodporn post, the more colors the better. I have my dragon fruit supply weekly from a local supplier since it will look amazing in my Chinoiserie fruit bowl. Make a classic arrangement as an extravagant stage and let your food be the main attraction for your tablescape.

Add Interesting Objects

Interesting items make for great centerpieces and conversation starters. | Photo by Vogue Living Australia

Use an interesting find such as a sake glass or an ashtray, bring a book or a sculpture to the surface and you’re good to go. Look around your home and pull out your travel momentous, this is the time you can make use of the tea set you bought impulsively from Osaka. I remember vividly the time I found this oriental table cloth from a museum in Japan, I was really internalizing if I should get the candle holder, I saw from that cute store next to our hotel. Too mesmerized that I forgot my phone was already low batt and couldn’t reach my husband. Good thing he knows me well and know where to find me. I asked dumbly (so he won’t get mad):

G: How did you know that I was here?

I: No brainer, I just knew you will stay where I left you an hour ago.

How can I not love this man?

Reminisce your travel back to your favorite cities. Adore your collection and enjoy the taste of your masterpiece. Turn your table into a museum of random finds. Curate accordingly. If you’re looking for something more minimal for your tablescape, highlight the details and shapes of sculptures by making them the star of the show, sometimes, less is more so arrange them beautifully and play around.

Borrow From Your Closet

Bring your sense of style to the table with eccentric fashion pieces. | Photo by @coco.kelley

My love for fashion is an extension of my style when it comes to decorating. I live to be a living art where I make my own rules and break boundaries. I always say that you can never be overdressed in any occasion since one can never be overeducatedI also apply this to tablescaping. I dress up my table to what suits my style, it makes me enjoy the meal and the atmosphere more. Tablescaping is about putting character to your table, personalize it with your trademark, pull out that feather and make it as an accent piece of your florals. Accessorize your Hankies as your table napkins, tie with ribbons or strings to make it look dainty. Bring out your big scarves and replace it with the usual picnic style table cloth you have been adoring. Challenge yourself to be different. Of course, the host needs to look amazing as well, glam up too since this a great excuse to dress the part. Be the star of your tablescape. Who says that you can’t get to wear that dress you have been reserving for a date night? We are living in these unexpected, crazy time in our lives, why not make ourselves feel good from time to time, no other pill can beat that.

And finally, the last thing I can offer for your guide in tablescaping is to really enjoy the journey. It’s a trial and error process in finding out what works and what doesn’t, but the important thing is that you learn something new about yourself and about what you like in your lifestyle. By simply designing and arranging ornaments, plates and cutlery on your table you are able to curate your own style step-by-step. Arranging, organizing, displaying things around your home to make your space more comfortable is very therapeutic. Think of it as looking around your own private museum, seeing your favorite things around you and feeling as if you’re home is also an extension of yourself. So, feel free to spend nothing but experience, time and style in tablescaping your area and I can’t wait to see what you have come up with!