We’re all about simple when cooking our summer meals (our grill is NEVER turned off) but why not go a little (or a lot) over the top with your table settings? We turned to entertaining pro and tastemaker Annabelle Moehlmann, founder of Land of Belle an online store and wedding registry, for help in designing a seriously chic summer table. She has traveled the world sourcing exquisite tabletop and decorative accessories for her e-commerce site and shares her 7 best tips for creating a stunning setting to wow your guests even if you’re just serving burgers! The only problem is your guests might never, ever want to leave the table.
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1. Set an intention
Before setting the table, think about what you intend the mood and style of the meal to be. Are you hoping for your table it to perfectly reflect the place where you’re hosting, or do you want your tablescape to evoke thoughts of another, more faraway locale? Do you want to immediately disarm your guests with a table that makes them feel at home in a casual setting or make them feel like they're walking into a carefully planned special occasion? Is the style classic and timeless or artistic and layered? Set your intention and continuously reference it as you select the various elements that you will use on your table.
2. Layer and mix and match, but balance is key
At Land of Belle, we love nothing more than a layered table. It's always visually compelling to mix and match items such as linens, glassware, plates, or vases. That said, some cohesion is necessary. If you're alternating glassware, keep your plates consistent and vice versa. If you decide to include various napkins, make sure they have a common thread such as pattern or color palette (summer always calls for beautifully printed linens). Use cohesive elements as your base to anchor the table so you can add in the unexpected without your table feeling haphazard or slapdash.
3. Local, seasonal flowers in small, low vessels
Ditch a large, fussy centerpiece and opt for various, small vessels filled with flowers sprinkled around the table. Take blooms directly from your garden or shop your local farm stand for whatever is most in season. If buying from a florist, make sure to pick flowers that are in keeping what would grow locally in the summer months. When out in the Hamptons, we adore visiting Sag Harbor Florist. Use bud vases or put bunches of flowers in glass tumblers, they work perfectly and ensure your guests will be able to see each other. We love using our Daydream tumblers to create low arrangements and are also big fans of these etched tumblers by Williams Sonoma. Don't forget to layer in tons of votive candles when entertaining at night; there is nothing quite like the glow of candlelight on a warm summer evening. I love the rattan wrapped votives by Amanda Lindroth.
4. Mix in natural materials
For entertaining in the summer months, it’s always beautiful to include some items crafted from natural materials such as bamboo, straw, shell and wood. Opt for wooden votives or candlesticks, or straw placemats, such as these from Serena & Lily. Use a bamboo or rattan covered ice bucket or encase side dishes in straw picnic tents. Invest in a set of flatware with wood or bamboo handles. If you don't have these items in your current collection, sprinkle shells you've collected on the beach down the table, or use them as place cards (write your guests name on them), and tie raffia or twine around your napkins.
5. Ditch the stemware
In lieu of a stemmed wine glass, opt for two glass tumblers of varying sizes at each place setting, one for cocktails or wine and the other for water, for a carefree summer feel. Go bold and colorful for a memorable look that will feel unique to your home. Our personal favorites are our handblown glassware by LagunaB. For a high-low mix, layer in easy and affordable glassware like these from CB2. For cocktail hour, it's fun to keep a tray of pretty assorted glassware on the bar and allow your guests to pick the one they like for their cocktail, which also ensures people know which glass is theirs if they set them down at some point.
6. An element of surprise
For a festive affair, layer in fun by laying fruits like lemons, oranges or figs down the table, or consider investing in objets like our ceramic sea urchins and dahlias, or seashells that can be reused time and again. Another nice touch is to invest in a set of lightweight throws like these from Pottery Barn and drape them over the back of your dining chairs if your table is outside. It's always nice for your guests to have them if the temperature drops or it gets a little buggy out.
7. Keep beverages on the table
Always keep pitchers of chilled flat and sparkling water and bottles of the wine you're serving directly on the table with a filled ice bucket nearby. No one likes to have to interrupt the host to make requests and having your beverages easily accessible so your guests can help themselves will ensure they stay hydrated, a little buzzed and most importantly that they feel well taken care of which is in the end, the true key to a perfect summer table. Some of my favorite wine to serve in the summer is Clos Beylesse rosé and Can Feixes for a crisp, easy white. For a special occasion, serve splits of Billecart Salmon Rosé Champagne with colorful straws during cocktail hour.
Annabelle Moehlmann was inspired to start Land of Belle after going through the wedding registry process. She realized there was not a destination where she could register for—or even shop—her favorite home accessories, many of which were discovered on travels. With Land of Belle, she intends to showcase the world’s leading boutique home accessories brands and artisans with others who share her passion for beautiful craftsmanship, love of unique pieces, and endless wander lust. Prior to starting the company, Moehlmann worked in the design world in different capacities before leading brand partnerships and business development at Indagare, a luxury travel company. She lives in Manhattan with her husband Maxi and their miniature wire-haired dachshund, Guinevere.
About Land of Belle
Online store. Wedding registry. Lifestyle Blog. Seasonal pop-ups. Created with true design lovers in mind, Land of Belle is a destination for beautifully-crafted home decor items from small brands and producers around the world. Founded in November 2017, Land of Belle is an online store and wedding registry. They have hosted seasonal pop-up stores in Manhattan and the Hamptons.