This is a paid partnership with MADE.com, but as always all words and opinions are my own
One of the joys of blogging is never quite knowing what exciting projects lie around the corner, and every now and then a totally unexpected opportunity lands in my inbox. One such email arrived a few weeks ago from MADE.com, inviting me to style and co-host a midsummer supper to showcase their new Nordic-inspired ‘Naya’ tableware. I’m not exaggerating when I say it made me stand up and do a little happy dance around my office – not only is MADE one of my favourite brands, but the ‘Naya’ range is right up my street. Best of all, the event they were planning was right here in my home city of Bristol.
Bristol has an incredibly vibrant community of bloggers and creatives, and MADE was keen to bring everyone together for a relaxed evening of good food, good wine and good conversation. The venue was airy Scandinavian restaurant Dela (one of my favourite places to eat), and I had lots of fun styling it for the event.
Drawing inspiration from the setting and the season, I created a simple but striking table in soft grey and blush pink, with brushed-gold cutlery and dark-grey linen napkins. I also used bud vases arranged in clusters down the length of the table, each filled with a single stem of cow parsley that I foraged the day before. Finally, I added lots of candles in brass holders to create a cosy and intimate atmosphere.
It was a wonderful evening, and a great chance to catch up with blogging friends old and new. And what a feast we were treated to: rhubarb and mint cocktails, sourdough bread with homemade butter and pickled vegetables, Wye Valley asparagus, juniper-spiced duck with charred courgettes and hasselback potatoes, and a silky buttermilk pudding with roast rhubarb to finish things off. Delicious!
If you’re hosting a gathering yourself this summer and want to create a similar look, here are my top table-styling tips:
- I find it helps to choose a palette of one or two colours and stick to it. If you’re struggling for ideas, try using the season, your décor or the menu for inspiration
- Set the mood with candles – I love using long, tapered candles in elegant holders, but you could also try tea lights in glass jars or chunky pillar candles placed on small plates. Vary their heights to create interest and prevent the scheme from looking too regimented
- Decorate with seasonal flowers and foliage. I like to arrange them in simple vases dotted around the table, rather than trying to create anything too elaborate. I also often lay a sprig on each plate or tuck one into each napkin
- If you’re foraging for flowers, do your research and make sure you know what you’re looking for – for example, cow parsley is very easy to confuse with the similar-looking and highly poisonous hemlock plant!
- Use linen napkins, as they look best when slightly crumpled and so require zero ironing. To arrange them prettily but easily, either fold them into long rectangles and drape them over the edge of the table, or hold each one from a corner and tie a loose knot in the middle (see how here)
- Experiment with different ways to lay cutlery. I tend to place everything to the right of each plate, rather than having the knife on one side and the fork on the other, as it I think it looks more elegant and a bit less formal; you could also arrange cutlery on napkins on top of the plates themselves, as I did in this blog post
- Think about interesting ways to present the food. At the MADE supper, the canapés, breads and pickles were served on marble boards, adding to the relaxed tone of the meal
- Finally, remember less is more. There’s no need to go over the top and clutter the table with lots of decoration; you also need to make sure you leave plenty of room to serve food and eat comfortably!
Here are all the MADE pieces that I used…
1. ‘Naya’ 12-piece dinner set, £69 | 2. ‘Chaumont’ wine glasses, £18 for four | 3. ‘Burr’ smoked-glass vases, £12 for three | 4. ‘Emerton’ 16-piece cutlery set, £129 | 5. ‘Sienna’ marble serving boards, £35 for two | 6. ‘Verona’ brass double candleholder, £15 | 7. ‘Faro’ linen napkins, £18 for four | 8. ‘Esti’ ribbed glasses, £25 for four | 9. ‘Verona’ brass single candleholder, £8
All photography of the event by Abi Dare; product photography via MADE.com