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How to set the table by the book

There’s no need to make every meal a formal affair, but sometimes you just want to do things up right. Those are the moments when a simple, proper table setting is most valued. Here are the basic things you need to know, from picking a theme to decorating with unique personality.

A view from above of a dining table set formally, with a white and blue colour scheme.
A view from above of a dining table set formally, with a white and blue colour scheme.

1. Here’s what you’ll need for 6 people:

6 cutting boards

6 dinner, salad and bread plates

6 sets of dinner and dessert cutlery

6 water glasses

6 wine glasses

A tablecloth, fabric to create a large tablecloth and a runner

Vintage books



2. The first step? Pick a theme and a colour scheme. We decided to throw a book club gathering, but no matter what direction you choose, consider your personality and style, the season, and the event itself. For the book club, get creative by gathering some vintage books and opt for light colours, such neutral white accented with shades of sky blue.

3. To set the foundation for your table, select your textiles. The tablecloths will protect it, while the runners define each guest’s dining space. For the first layer, use a metre fabric hemmed just above the floor. Next, add a standard-size table cloth on top. Last, add custom-sewn runners in your contrasting accent colour.

4. Flatware is everything when you’re setting the table. Begin with the charger (we chose a wooden chopping board for a cool contrast), building up to include the dinner plate, salad plate, soup bowl, bread plate, and cutlery for both dinner and dessert. For a sweet personal touch, wrap a book page around the cloth napkin to serve as a place card.

5. Don’t let the wine glass situation stress you. We totally believe in enjoying what you love, so forget those stale rules of pairing white with fish and red with meat. You make the rules! Give each guest one glass each for water, white and red wines. If they don’t want one, just remove the glass.

6. It’s the finishing touch that adds the most character. You can use decorative items you already have in your home or flowers you’ve gathered from outdoors, but just remember not to make your centrepieces too high. You want to see your guests from across the table, right? To create a balanced composition, arrange items in groups of odd numbers. And for the best possible culinary experience, just say no to scented candles or highly fragrant flowers.

We love to see our customers get creative with our products. Go for it! But please note that altering or modifying IKEA products so they can no longer be re-sold or used for their original purpose, means the IKEA commercial guarantees and your right to return the products will be lost.

Made by
Interior designer: Rita Mestre
Photographer: Daniel Hertzell
Writer: Vanessa Algotsson