Text by Hannah Jones
Social distancing and restrictions on indoor eating and activities have suddenly changed what we expected the summer to look like, especially when it comes to celebrations. Unable to invite friends for dinner or share a bite with extended family, many people have chosen to forgo sitting down for a meal altogether. But we’re firm believers in celebrating the everyday moments, especially now! Setting the table with your favorite dishware or getting out your heirloom silver can be the perfect way to elevate the ordinary and bring a little excitement to mealtimes that may feel mundane. We chatted with Molly Hatch, owner and creator of the eponymous tableware and stationary brand, to get her tips on making dining at home a special occasion with ease and simplicity, whether the table’s set for one or a dozen.
First off, Molly encourages people to remember that setting the table doesn’t have to be difficult. “Creating a beautiful tablescape doesn’t need to be intimidating! I find that there are several elements of setting the table that can instantly make the table feel more formal and put together,” she says. When crafting her own table décor, Molly starts with her dishware. “Well, as a tableware designer, I always start with the tableware! I usually want to highlight the unique and exciting tableware I have chosen for that meal, and it’s a great place to start because the china you pick out for your table can inform the color palette of the rest of the table setting. You can choose colors that complement the tableware, match the tableware, or contrast the tableware, and the decisions will really change the tone of the whole tablescape,” she explains.
Once you’ve allowed your dishware to inform your color palette, you can move towards selecting linens—beginning with the tablecloth. Have fun here! Don’t be afraid to mix in unique patterns or a pop of color. “A tablecloth immediately adds a sense of formality and attention to detail,” Molly says. “It can be fun to play with matching the color of the tablecloth to a decorative element of the china you are using. Napkins could contrast the tablecloth or be the same color as other elements of the china surface patterning.”
You could simply use a tablecloth and fine china and set a gorgeous table, but if you want to celebrate a little more, include coordinating napkins and place mats. “Place mats are also another element that can really instantly pull together a table,” Molly says. “Flowers, candles, and plants in the center are a great way to amplify a color palette and add elegance to a table. Glassware and stemware are often an afterthought but can also provide pops of color and another layer of gorgeousness to any table.”
When mixing your patterns and palette, Molly says to pick one main theme and build off of that idea, whether it’s a statement color or a recurring element in a print. “I think a lot of the success of an eclectic tablescape has to do with understanding how color plays into it. If you want a unique feeling to the table, adding various textures and colors helps,” she says. “If you want a lot of pattern, mix a more narrative surface design—like a plate with a focal point of a large bird or animal—with a geometric pattern or stripe on napkins or tablecloths and stemware to make the imagery on the tableware stand out. Choosing a geometric or abstract pattern that is predominantly a color that is in the surface design of the plates will help it feel cohesive.”
Molly also encourages homeowners to mix it up not only with pattern and color but also with old and new. “I think it’s great to choose to have one or two cohesive sections of the tablescape be vintage. For example, we generally pair vintage silverware with contemporary place settings,” she explains. “I might add a set of vintage silver candlesticks and a water pitcher to that same table to bring the thread of vintage silver throughout, but nothing else on that table needs to be vintage to make it work. It can also be fun to arrange flowers in vintage pieces adding yet another layer. Newer pieces can also become the salad plate that is set on top of a vintage dinner plate—creating visual contrasts with new and old can be a really fun way to make a tablescape more exciting.”
Looking into the summer months, Molly is excited to bring pops of color into her table arrangements and have a little fun! “I find that blue and white is my go-to, always. But summer can be a great time to really add tons of color to a tablescape!” she says. “I suggest lemon yellows with green pops, or reds and blues together. Summer foods can help direct the tablescape and colors you choose, too.”
It’s also the perfect season to spend some time dining outdoors—this is another great way to mix up mealtime—and Molly offers the perfect tips for dining alfresco. “It’s great to remember a tablecloth, even outside,” she says. “Alfresco dining is always a little bit Italian in my mind—pitchers of cool drinks, candles, simple place settings with wicker and woven, natural colors and crisp white linens. Let the outdoors be the main focus!”