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This summer, how you dress your table is just as - if not more - important as how you dress yourself. Here, luxury events planner & tablescaping expert, Tara Fay gives a lesson in the art of the tablescape.

When asked to think of the favourite thing in your home, what do you picture? Perhaps it’s your bed, given you spend a third of your life asleep. Or maybe it’s your sofa, the place you seek comfort after a hard day. But what about your dining table? Whether it’s a lavish banquet table with its own room or a dual purpose worktop in the kitchen, the dining table is a place in the home where the most important and least important conversations take place. It’s a place where silence is welcomed as is laughter. A place where families and friends come together and a place where stories are shared.

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The new Table Stories destination located on Level 3, Brown Thomas Grafton Street.

For the longest time, the dining table was a forgotten space - but not anymore. The recent tablescaping trend has brought the dining table back into the spotlight with more and more people realising the significant role it plays in one’s home. Not to mention the fun that can be had dressing the table with colourful napkins, table cloths, beautiful glassware and quirky plates.

The dining table, a place in the home where the most important and least important conversations take place. A place where silence is welcomed as is laughter. A place where families and friends come together and a place where stories are shared…

So whether you’re looking to bring love back to your table or resuming your former status of hostess with the mostess, the hardest part of tablescaping is knowing how to start.

Cue Table Stories.

A new era in tabletop design by Brown Thomas, discover the very best tablescaping brands covering everything from table cloths to glassware to candlesticks and accessories. Located on Level 3 in Brown Thomas Dublin, you’ll find luxury brands such as Pomax, Hay, Vaisselle, Seletti and much more. What’s more, each of the brands are beautifully displayed in curated table settings to inspire your next tablescape.

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Event planner & tablescaping expert, Tara Fay.

But to further assist your Table Story, we reached out to events planner and tablescaping expert, Tara Fay to teach us how to lay a picturesque table.


First things first, what is tablescaping?

“While the name is a relatively new concept the art of table design has been around for many years in different guises. I think we only have to look at the current season of ‘Bridgerton’ on Netflix to see how setting a table has always been an important element of dining for many years. So whether it’s a Royal banquet for Lady Bridgerton or dinner a deux, you can still have fun with your table.”

Why do you think it has become such a popular activity?

“At the start of the first lockdown, people shared images with each other of how they were setting their tables at home. Partly because for many, it was the longest they had spent in their homes in one stretch. These tables were shared on social media and suddenly everyone was exchanging images and comparing pretty tables across continents and borders.”

You speak of tablescaping being a popular lockdown activity, do you think it’s here to stay?

“I hope that because people have discovered the joy of setting a table that it does stay, it’s like putting a pretty picture in an equally fabulous frame, your food needs a bit of theatre to show it off!”

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So how does one lay the perfect tablescape?

“Before you start, you need to think about who you are setting the table for; the style and the guests you will have. You can have the same table but 10 different colours or themes for it and it can look different each time.

You also should think about your senses. Think about touch and feel, taste, smell, sight and sound. How does that translate into a table? For touch, what do you want to touch at the table? What’s the top of the table - and how is that going to influence what you put onto it? Linens? Or just placemats and napkins, or maybe nothing. Then sight, what colours will you have? How will you layer these? And what will be on the table when it is at its fullest? Smell, I am not a big fan of scented candles where food is concerned but floral smells are always a good idea. Having said that, scented candles for an entranceway is the perfect welcome to your home. All of these elements set the scene for your other two senses, taste and sound, you will appreciate these all the more sitting at a beautiful table setting.”

With so many elements to be incorporated into a table setting, how do you know when to stop accessorising?

“When it comes to candles, I think there are never too many. In fact, I once set a table for 22 people with over 100 dining candles (never scented though where there is food). With dining you do have to think of your guests and the dining experience, so make sure you have practical space, as in space for people, the food and for them to move around without breaking things.”

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What are some of the most common mistakes people tend to make when dressing their tables?

“Sometimes people tend not to be practical. My advice is to think of the dishes that will be served: can they go straight onto a table or will a heat resistant stand be required? Is there space for every dish? Can you easily access the dish? Are there too many glasses?

Other times, people don’t think about the physical space a guest takes up. You should know your table size and know the size of the biggest plate you will use and check you have space for everything. Most place settings will be min 13” or 34cm in width.”

What’s one item no tablescape should be without?

“I would say, guests. However, in reality, your tablescape should reflect you, the host, and what is important to you as an individual. So if glasses are your thing, then that is the item that should be prominent. There are many rules about the proper setting of cutlery and placement of glasses, etc. but with regards to what to include, this is all about you!”

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What Would Your Advice Be For Anyone Who Struggles To Sit At The Table, Nevermind Lay A Tablescape?

“I am all for a TV dinner every now and then, but you will really appreciate your table and your dining more if you can sit at it for even 15 minutes. I think sometimes it’s easier to just sit down and eat without thinking of the experience. You will not only enjoy your food more in a nice setting, but honestly, you will feel better. I am sure a lot of people think that they have no time to set a table, but it can be something so small that can make a huge difference to your whole mood. Nothing wrong with a tray but make your tray look extra special as well!”

What tablescaping trends are you seeing this year?

“Much like event and floral design, it’s very intertwined with fashions and influenced by television and movies. So expect lots of colour and lots of layering and textures.”

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