How to Dress a Dining Table With Linens, Centerpieces, and Flatware: Your Dream Tablescape

Saffron Marigold - Updated: September 15, 2022

Birthdays, anniversaries, holiday dinners with extended family—so many of life’s occasions center around food. Celebrate in style, and dress your dining table with colorful linens, stunning centerpieces, and gasp-worthy dishware. The secret to throwing a great luncheon or dinner is planning everything around a theme. With every decorative detail accounted for, you can relax and make once-in-a-lifetime memories with your loved ones.

Why dress up a dining table?

Part of the fun in having a party is decorating the dining table. A well-thought-out tablescape is the highlight of the dining room, whether it’ll be for a special occasion or everyday use. Dressing up your dining table means your kitchen and dining area flow well aesthetically, with no elements fighting for attention, which would otherwise make your home look inconsistent.

Plus, a decked out dining table is impressive, even if it does’t require much effort to achieve—but don’t worry, your secret’s safe with us. More on each step below. But first, some tablescape setting ideas.

Tablescape ideas

You’ve got your dining table furniture set, and now all you need is some table decor to get it up to par with the rest of your room. Let’s take a look at eight tablescape ideas to try before going into the specific steps in dressing up your dining room table.

1. Classic, everyday tablescape

Something neutral like blue and white is a lifesaver for a quick and easy table setting. But, it doesn’t sacrifice on style and grace at all. The white lotus print against the royal blue canvas is timeless, and the border on the table cloth gives this collection a traditional feel fit for the modern home.

Forever flowers in gold and a versatile white dishware set is best for an everyday tablescape. Take a look at our blog post for more ideas on how to make a stunning table setting for everyday. Low effort, but high impact.


Golden Lotus Faux Florals in Gold Glass Vase

Lulu and Georgia

Casafina Pacifica Dinnerware (18-Piece Set)

2. Garden party glam

Woodland Ferns is a shoo-in for any outdoor soiree, with its whimsical print of delicate ferns and coordinating wildflower pattern encased in a graceful ogee pattern. The blue and green will look best with natural-toned dishware and accessories to keep in line with a nature-inspired theme.

Go all in with green dish plates to go with your woodland linens. Add a touch of glam with a metallic candle holder in place of a floral arrangement.


Recycled Glass Salad Plates

Pottery Barn

Dreper Brass Pillar Candle Centerpiece

3. Festive and rustic year-round

If you’re a Christmas in July type of person, you’ll love the joy Ruby Kilim brings to any occasion. Its ruby red, deep cream, and grey-black color scheme is bold, its geometric pattern interesting and unique. The detailed borders and complex patterns are an homage to traditional Turkish rugs that bear stunning, ornate designs.

A woven basket makes a complementary centerpiece for Ruby Kilim, while black dishware is an unexpected choice that adds oomph to your statement table linens.

Burke Decor

Grisha Centerpiece

West Elm

Kaloh Dinnerware Dinner Plate Golden Oak Set

4. A Mediterranean meal

Pile on the couscous, tagine, and zaalouk for a Moroccan-inspired menu. Top off the meal with a cup of refreshing mint tea and almond puff pastry, or the almond briouat. Don’t forget to set the table with a Moroccan tablecloth, transporting you to the streets of Morocco and its bustling environs. Spice Route is fitting, and the warm red-orange palette is perfect for meals.

Spice Route looks best with other warm colors and neutrals. A metallic serving tray with seasonal offerings is a great centerpiece idea, and the tray can be utilized in other rooms when you’re not entertaining.

Pottery Barn

Austin Tumbled Metal Serving Tray

Timothy de Clue

Marrakech Black and White Dinnerware Collection

5. Royal French table setting

While French restaurants are notorious for their crisp white linens, Versailles puts a colorful twist on French table setting. This print is inspired by Palace Versailles, a call to 17th century style fit for a contemporary dining room. Decorate with gold accents and exquisite dishware to bring out the elegant characteristics in Versailles.

Versailles features a vivid yellow gold with silver grey. It makes sense to highlight soft-colored blooms and white dishware keep your table decor looking refined and upscale.

Lings Moment

Large Floral Centerpiece Set in White & Beige

Pottery Barn

Monique Lhuillier Juliana Dinnerware 16 Piece Set

6. Provincial French mood

Prefer a more relaxed vibe but with an unequivocal French air? Enchanted is a delightful print that’s as dreamy as its name. An abundance of colorful wildflowers takes you to a lush meadow in the countryside, the air warm and breezy, your mind fully present in the delicious moment.

Enchanted is a gorgeous backdrop for whimsical table setting decor like a butterfly-themed fruit bowl or floral dinnerware set. Any shades of blue or green will work with this nature-influenced print.


Cloudy Butterflies Fruit Bowl

Fitz and Floyd

Toulouse Green 16 Piece Dinnerware Set

7. Floral extravaganza

Dahlia Daydreams is a pink-forward collection featuring blushing pink pompom dahlias surrounded by soft, grey foliage. Mid-century modern pieces will look right at home with any Dahlia Daydreams linen, especially geometric ceramics and gold-accented dishware.

Pair an abundant flower vase with a streamlined candle holder accented in gold. Pick dishware that’s clean and elementary, holding the focus on your beautiful table linens.

Crate & Barrel

Cassia Marble and Brass Taper Candle Centerpiece


4-Piece Dolce White Place Setting With Soup Bowl

8. Tropical treats

Escape to somewhere sunny and laidback with Tropical Garden, a vibrant floral print of star gazer lilies and verdant vines, paradise captured on linen. The golden honey tan ground is a beautiful canvas for your rustic dishware and bold flatware.

Arrange potted plants in the center of a Tropical Garden tablecloth with a natural tray like rattan or bamboo. Have fun with your dishware, keeping true to Tropical Garden’s carefree vibe.


Rattan Tray


Aimone Dinner Plate Set

Step-by-step guide on how to dress a dining table

Really, there are only five key steps to dressing up your dining table. Let’s review them together.

1. Choose your theme

Theme, theme, theme. Time and again expert designers stress the importance of a cohesive story woven throughout a room or home. Great news for tablescapes: you can change your theme around the season, celebration, or your mood as necessary.

For everyday tablescapes, we recommend something simple and elegant. Something you can easily glam up when the occasion calls for it or simplify if you’re short on time.

Ideas for a dining table setting theme for special occasions include Mediterranean styles, garden party, gold glam, Bohemian bash, and of course, your classic fall and winter stories.

2. Choose your table cover

The most crucial part of your table setting—the foundation of your dining table’s outfit—is the table cover. Choose between a table cloth (round, rectangular, or square) or a table runner.

Fabric is best for a sophisticated look, but if you’re worried about stains and other damages, you can protect your table with a waterproof sheet underneath. Your table cloth should be large enough to cover your dining table and hang on all sides for about an 8-inch drop. This is the standard drop length for restaurants, although longer drops are standard for formal occasions.

Our rectangular tablecloths are 70 x 90, 70 x 108, and 70 x 120 inches.

Shop All Rectangular Tablecloths

Our round table cloths are available as 70 and 90-inch covers. The drop length for each tablecloth varies by table size, but it should be around 12 to 15 inches if you want to honor tradition.

Shop All Round Table Cloths

Or, you can try a table runner if you want to showcase your stunning glass dining table or cherry wood table. Our table runners are available in three sizes: 18 x 90, 18 x 108, 18 x 120 inches. With handprinted designs and durable, double stitched hems, they’re great for year-round use. Plus, they can be used to decorate both rectangular and round tables.

Shop All Table Runners

3. Choose your smaller linens

Next, we move onto the table’s smaller articles of clothing, going back to our metaphor of the tablescape as an outfit. Gather cloth napkins and fabric placemats for a sophisticated look.

The prints don’t have to be same, and with our wide range of handprinted table linens, your creativity can soar. When mulling over your choice of placemat, think about how your dishware will look on top of it. Will the colors harmonize or be in conflict? Is the print keeping to your theme?

If you’re hosting a full-course meal, you’ll be glad to know that our table placemats are large-sized at 15 x 20 inches. What’s more, our table napkins come in sets of 6 in a generous 20 x 20 inches size.

Shop All Table Linens

4. Choose your dishware

Next, we come to the dishware. What you need depends on what you’re serving, but the basics are your dinner plate, water cup, and another beverage cup. The last can be a teacup, wine glass, or mug.

A salad plate, dessert plate, and soup bowl are optional. It might be best to finalize your menu before finalizing your dishware.

5. Choose your flatware

Now, we deliberate on the flatware. Stainless steel or copper? Do you need a dessert spoon and a salad fork? Matte or glossy? Keep it simple with your three essentials: dinner fork, dinner spoon, and dinner knife.

Of course, the last might change based on what you’re serving, i.e. are you serving meat or another dish that’s more difficult to cut into? In that case, a steak knife might be the right call.

6. Complete with centerpieces and finishing touches

No outfit is complete without the accessories. In this case, we’re talking about your dining table’s centerpieces and other enhancements. Popular and foolproof choices for centerpieces are fruit bowls, dinner candles, and flower arrangements.

Shop All Candles

Your decor might change by the season or whether or not the table is in use. If your table is currently going unused, you might display photographs, artwork, trays, and more.

How to dress a round dining table

A round dining table can be decorated with a round table cloth or a table runner. Our generously sized round table cloths are either 70 or 90 inches across, giving you a long fabric drop that’s elegant for every meal.

When entertaining on a round dining table, there should be about 24 inches between people from the center of the one dinner plate to next. This is the optimal spacing for maximum comfort, although exceptions can be made if guests don’t mind squeezing in a couple more people into the table.

Keep in mind that rectangular placemats will probably overlap on a round dining table. One of the best centerpieces for round tables is a round tray filled with various decorative pieces. Create height levels and repeat colors within your chosen centerpiece elements. Some ideas for a centerpiece tray are seasonal produce, glass vases filled with flowers and/or branches, and candles.

How to dress a dining table when selling a house

The dining room is one of the most scrutinized features of a home among potential buyers. It’s a room where they intend to entertain, and it’s guaranteed to be used everyday, after all. Professional home stagers are called in to beautify the space before buyers come in to check it out, but here are some tips and tricks you can employ on your own.

First, clear the clutter off of your dining table and side tables, if any. Showcase only decorative elements that are seasonal and cohesive with your dining set.

Choose a table cloth or runner that complements your dining room rug or curtains. Word is that table runners give a more sophisticated vibe, while tablecloths allow potential buyers to imagine the space as their own through a “lived-in” look. If you’re going for that emotional sell, set the table like how you would if you were hosting a fancy dinner party (i.e. Bring out the nice wine glasses and china), making sure to feature how many guests can dine comfortably on the table.

A table runner topped with a few vases holding lots of greenery and flowers, whether silk or fresh, is always a hit, too. You might also bring out a candelabra and dinner tables for a more romantic ambiance. Above all, make sure the focal point is your wonderful tablescape!