How to style your perfect summer dining table

Wooden dining table with metal legs, wooden bench and black metal dining chairs

It’s here! The Sun I mean. It’s amazing how mood-enhancing a good dose of vitamin-D can be.

One of my favourite things about the summer is that everyone gets into dinner party mode by dusting off their pitchers for their Pimms and big white platters for summer salads, and not to mention giving the BBQ a good ol’ clean for its seasonal work out! I have just bought a chimnea for the first time and I’m itching to light the fire and cook some fresh fish over it.

I am an Interior Stylist by trade but I’m lucky that my job is also my hobby! So, when I style my table for a summer dinner party, I really like to go to town.

Most of the time, I like to use white crockery as I find you can never go wrong with it, and I think it’s pleasing to eat off neutral coloured plates. In saying that, I also like to add accent colours.

Colourful dinnerware set

So, very simply- you start from the bottom and layer up. I hardly ever use table cloths because my dining table is an odd size and I hate it when a tablecloth looks uneven on each side. I use runners instead and I love crisp, white runners.

Once you have the table linen on, it is quite common to use placemats; however I am not so keen on them. For an unusual twist, I like to use sample and one-off tiles that I have picked up over the years. I have some beautiful patterned ones from Spain and Macedonia and I use them under each place setting and if you have any small ones- you could use them as coasters. I find they are a conversation starter too!

Next, it’s time for the crockery. What you will use will depend on the type of party i.e. formal or laid-back, the type of guests you are expecting and the occasion e.g. Friday night pizza and wine or Saturday night 3-course meal. My dinner parties usually lie somewhere in between these. I like to serve a three course meal, but I like the atmosphere to feel relaxed.

Green table with black cutlery

I like the idea of mixing and matching my crockery, especially the following stoneware ranges with their lovely organic shapes. They should be from the same colour group or trend but other than that, anything goes!

When it comes to serving your food, one thing I like to do is serve things on large platters. I buy a platter from most countries that I visit as there are so many cities that have brilliant ceramics for sale in local markets. I also serve things on wooden boards. Bread boards, cheese boards, I’ve even served food on off-cuts of timber and bamboo that have had the sides buffed and sanded. I just can’t get enough of the feel and smell of timber!

Dinner table with black and brown serveware

A couple more things that I really love to have when I’m hosting  a party, is a carafe full of ice, lemon, mint and cucumber- big slices of it, to infuse with the water. And I must have fresh flowers. I’m obsessed with my garden and love to bring in roses and sweet-peas and arrange them into various jars and vases.

Top this off with some fairy lights (indoors and out) and you have got yourself a party that no one will want to leave!

If you want to see more styling tip and ideas, check out my blog at and feel free to drop me a line with any questions you may have!


Lucy Gough is a London-based freelance Interior Stylist and works with both commercial and editorial clients. Lucy has been featured in publications such as Livingetc magazine, Sunday Times Homes, ALTO, Sunday Times Style and more. Check out Lucy on twitter and Instagram at @style_by_lucy.

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