How to create the perfect table setting

Interiors stylists Caroline Anderson and Sofie Lawett are the creators of the inspiring new tables and recipes book from IKEA, FANTASTISK – Every Day Counts. Here they share some of their ideas

One big idea to set the scene

”Everyone can have fun experimenting with different table settings. And don’t feel constrained by rules. For example, there’s no need to have matching items for each guest; in fact it can look much more inviting and informal if you try mixing cutlery and crockery that you wouldn’t normally put together. Here’s four great table settings to awaken your creativity!”

A summer brunch

This table is set for a help-yourself brunch – stacked plates, cutlery, tea and coffee cups. Foldaway side tables are a great way to accommodate unexpected guests. We used one to extend the garden table. And if space is limited on the main table, set your food on the fold-up table.

Favours are small presents you often give to wedding guests but it can be nice to give guests a gift to take home from any meal. These pots are homemade using wallpaper. Each is planted with a seedling for a herb or flower. Alternatively, plant your seedlings in small pots wrapped in textile for a personal touch.

This table isn’t laid out with individual place settings but make it easy for everyone to grab their cutlery set by wrapping a knife, fork and spoon in a paper napkin and fastening with a piece of contrasting fabric.

We wrapped strips of fabric around the back of these chairs. A simple idea that adds a personal touch and reuses old fabric.

A bohemian wedding

This mood here is easy and relaxed. It’s a bohemian summer wedding in a field. We mixed everything up – old plates and glasses with new; lace and linen table cloths; flowers picked from the garden with ones bought from the florist. Everything is OK.

Use coloured tape to write your guests’ names on the back of each chair or spell out a message – we taped ‘just married’ to the back of the bride’s and groom’s chairs. Just pick a tape that is easy to remove!

Use photos for place settings – it’s easy and personal. If you can use an instant camera to take a snap of each guest as they arrive, it means they will have a nice keepsake of the day.

A midsummer feast

Eating outside means you already have a naturally beautiful backdrop so you can take it easy with your table. Use whatever seating is to hand – don’t worry about everything matching. Let the food take centrestage and set everything off with fresh field flowers displayed in a vase or jar.

Invite guests to tuck in by arranging food on a mix of wood chopping boards and scent the table with fresh herbs placed in glass jars.

Use a sprig of fresh herb to decorate napkins. Wrap a strip of fabric around the napkin for added interest – and to stop the sprig blowing away in a summer breeze!

A kid’s party

What’s your theme? Be bold and bring it to the table. This is a party for an animal lover and we’ve covered the stools with fabric that has a wild feel to it, as well as creating a centrepiece of animal toys.

Why not pop some popcorn and serve it in homemade paper bags? Kids will enjoy watching the preparation as well as eating the treats afterwards.

Even when you use paper napkins and plates, you can make a table feel extra special. Each place setting here is the same, which makes a real visual impact – and means no child will be jealous of what the other has! Even though we have a tablecloth, we have layered each setting with a place mat, plate and napkin. And we added something extra to those ordinary things like the place mat (edges cut into triangles) and the napkins (folded into a fan shape) that the kids will hopefully find exciting.

A birthday breakfast for two

A twist on breakfast in bed. Set a table for an intimate birthday breakfast prepared with love.

Write a message around the rim of a plate to create a special mood on the morning of a loved one’s birthday.

Make your own handwritten gift tag and attach it to a present using a big clip. The feel is homemade and super personal.

Inspired? Here’s even more great table setting ideas

Inside the new FANTASTISK Every Day Counts book, you’ll find more ideas that make every day special. Created by Caroline Anderson and Sofie Lawett, FANTASTISK has 17 tables, for special days and everyday, through the four seasons, with easy recipes to suit each table. ‘We hope the ideas in this book will be a starting point for great times shared at the table with friends.’