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Fall Tablescape Three Ways

by Magnolia
Published on October 4, 2019

We get it, planning a tablescape can feel intimidating—no matter the season. It’s easy to feel stuck when choosing what pieces get the spotlight, or how to problem solve a table that looks overdone or just the opposite: not done enough. But once guests arrive and even after the plates are cleared away, we’re reminded that community and good food is the real reason we gather. But of course, a beautiful table to gather around is a welcomed bonus for you to get creative and for your guests to enjoy. Whether you’re considering hosting a formal gathering, a casual get-together, or something in between this fall, we’ve pulled together three different tablescapes—one traditional, one eclectic, and one for the kids—for you to borrow from or build on this season.

Here are a few basic guidelines we rely on when it comes to setting a table:

Take stock of what you already own. It’s natural to feel like you have to go out and spend money on brand new pieces, but before you do that, first determine if you already have dishware and silverware tucked away somewhere that just needs a little dusting off! Or, if you’re excited to buy something new, layering it with existing pieces makes for an organic look.

Consider the guest count. This will determine how much room you have or need to make on the table for decor and food.

Add styling elements that bring in texture and color. This is where you can really get creative and bring the table to life. Varied candlesticks, a table runner, dried or fresh florals, and customized place settings help make your table feel intentional and tailored to your guests.

When it’s time to serve the meal, feel welcome to remove or push aside the decor in order to make space for the food.


A warm, neutral setting with a modern twist.

For a traditional tablescape, it’s helpful to begin with a color palette in mind. Here, we allowed the space itself to speak into the color story we wanted to tell with our decor choices. To highlight the neutral setting, we decided on a black-and-cream foundation that we could then build on with varying textures and colors. Traditional white platesOpens in new tab and black silverware was our starting point, and from there we brought in decor that would complement both—including these heavy, black iron taper holdersOpens in new tab (one of Joanna’s go-to table styling pieces), which are staggered across the table. This placement (instead of a straight line) allows for other statement pieces to share the spotlight—like ceramic Opens in new tab vases with tall, dried florals. These vases, along with the knotted the napkins (that add some texture and dimension to each individual setting) complement the color of the plates and help tie together the black-and-cream color palette.

A few other tips—cake standsOpens in new tab can be used for more than just cake! On this table, they serve the functional purpose of adding a bit of height to decor pieces. Lastly, the brass place card holders add subtle charm and personalization.


A relaxed scene with a mix of styles.

This table pulls off a polished, yet eclectic look by mixing styles and color. If you have mismatched tableware that you happen to love, a relaxed, layered tablescape can be a lot of fun to pull together. Here, bolder, modern elements, including the place settings, stand out against the vintage, rustic table and white dining chairs.

To start, we used these matte black platesOpens in new tab to complement the sleek gold silverware and napkin ringsOpens in new tab. Bud vases and stemsOpens in new tab add vertical dimension and save valuable real estate on this small table. The large glass vase and ceramic add contrasting materials to the table, giving the scene some visual interest. For a hint of color, we incorporated blue napkins that bring out the blue of the table runner.


A playful space tailored to little ones.

An intentional space for the kids just might keep them entertained well past mealtime—especially with a piece of rolled-out Kraft paper and colored pencils nearby for some post-meal doodling and coloring. If you don’t have a separate space for them, you can also extend the adult table but set theirs up differently (Kraft paper and all!). Color is always fitting for a kid’s table, so we incorporated colorful paper napkins, as well as plate sets, which you’ll also find featured, among a lot of other fun products in our 2019 Stocking Stuffer Guide in the Winter 2019 issue of Magnolia Journal.Opens in new tabOpens in new tab

What it comes down to is this: Get creative with what you have, and have some fun pulling it all together in a way that represents your gathering and personal style. We’d love to see a snapshot of your gathering this year—share a picture with us on social media and tag @magnolia!Opens in new tab