The art of tablesetting
Choose from the traditional or contemporary way of setting your table.
Michael Pinet is the Stylist for Private Brands Marketing & Development at The Bay. He recently treated us to a little lesson à la Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman on the art of tablesetting.
Your usual starting point is your table cloth, runner or placemat. The key thing to remember here is: "The more formal the dinner, the more coverage." At a formal gathering, you always use a fabric tablecloth. "And always press your linens," advises Michael. "You want to show care."
One thing Michael stresses is how "being a good host these days is making life easy for your guests, not trying to impress them." Traditionally, a formal table setting means all of your dishes, cutlery and glasses are on the table at the beginning of your meal. Nowadays this look has been edited down to make it easier on the guest.
A big trend right now is the charger plate. "This defines your space," explains Michael. A charger plate is a larger plate that frames your dinner plate. A different coloured (but matching) dessert plate over top of your dinner plate is also a very nice touch. You can remove it once dinner starts. Your bread plate is always to the left of your dinner plate. Your charger stays on through the meal and comes off with the dinner plate.
Dinnerware designer Rosanna Bowles plays by her own rules: "It’s really ‘anything goes’ now for tabletop, which is so much fun!"
DOs and DON’Ts of table style Since launching Seattle-based Rosanna Inc. in 1982, the elegant entrepreneur has reserved a place on tables worldwide with her fashion-forward takes on traditional dishware. The self-confessed “dish freak” and doyenne of patterned plates shares her tips for making ordinary tables extraordinary.
Don’t overdose on white. We’ve all heard that white plates are a must for food presentation, but Rosanna’s not bound by that old adage. "It makes for a dull tabletop and doesn’t let your creative side come through when setting the table," she says. "Everyone should have a set of 12 white dinner plates, but you build on that."
Do dress your table as you would dress yourself. "Mixing and matching different styles and periods is big in fashion now," says Rosanna. "You may have contemporary white plates, but you can mix in antique salad plates as side plates, accessorizing with Edwardian silver sugar bowls as vases and using unmatched flatware."
Do invest in patterned appetizer plates. "You can inexpensively insert them into the white china you already have, and they totally change the look of a table setting," Rosanna says.