Put some va va voom into the way you lay your table with these stunning sites.

If you don’t know what ‘tablescaping’ is, then you haven’t spent enough time on Instagram in the last year or so. Essentially, it is the art of laying a pretty table. But by its nature, tablescaping requires some serious thought, energy and style.

Maximalism is the name of this increasingly fashionable game. Candles, flowers, placemats, tablecloths, ornaments, crackers, napkins – there is no limit to the mind-blowing layers with which the hottest hostesses are dressing their tables these days.

The term was first coined by US TV chef Sandra Lee in 2003, but it is the competitive styling on Instagram, where hashtag #tablescape has 1,183,055 posts, that has really put it on our map.

The Instagram feeds of the cook Skye McAlpine, party planner Fiona Leahy and magazine Cabana all provide riotously colourful inspiration for the tablescapes of dreams.

But these are the people who will help you take your tablescaping to the next level.

Alice Naylor-Leyland

Alice Naylor-Leyland is the most visible, and perhaps the greatest, hostess of her generation. Her thirtieth birthday party, complete with multi-coloured balloons and sheep dyed in candy colours, filled the pages of glossy magazines, reams of Instagram feeds and the memories of everyone who attended. So she is exceptionally well placed to have created a high-end tablescaping kit company from a barn at her Cambridgeshire pile. At the moment, the site sells two kits, The Serena (named after her soignee mother) and The Nancy (named after her adorable daughter), containing all that you need for a fabulous, whimsical dining table. Other kits are in the pipeline and scores of divine individual pieces of tableware are available to buy, too.

Lay London

Sisters Jemima and Alice Herbert launched Lay London, the city’s first tablescape rental service, in order to reimagine the way we host. Hiring all you need to lay a pretty table requires less waste, less storage space and less time. Jemima Herbert told the FT recently: ‘People moved quite quickly from taking photos of their food to styling photos of their food. Now the food isn’t really part of it any more. People really care about how their homeware represents them. It’s a sweet way of showing off your style.’ You choose your look and Lay London packs everything you need plus instructions into a box and delivers it to your door. When you’re done, you rinse it all off, put it back in its box and wait for them to fetch it from you. Social Studies does a similar thing in New York.

Maison Margaux

New to the scene is luxury tablescaping service, Maison Margaux. These guys have thought up a very cool system. Either you can choose simply to rent one of their ‘looks’ for your event. (We particularly like English Meadow and Nantucket.) Or you can browse the incredible range of tableware on their website, adding to your basket what you’d like on your table as you go along, then select a date and number of guests on the calendar – and your enquiry is handled from there.

Kitten Grayson

Florist Kitten Grayson is among those tastemakers leading the tablescaping movement. She’s a genius at combining stunning floral arrangements with the right glassware, textiles, etc, to make for a glorious table. At Easter, she told Homes & Gardens: ‘Back in November I planted loads of different varieties of narcissi and now they are flowering. I lifted them out of the ground and planted them up into pots, to bring them into the house and place on my table for Easter, mixed with bud vases of cow parsley, and quail eggs and candles for the table.’ Copy her look – or hire her for your event.

The Sette

The Sette is a beautiful new curated tableware service, coming soon to discerning Londoners. Co-founders Cloe Bueso and Sophie Elliott have sourced unique table-settings from around the world, which will be delivered in pre-designed ‘settes’ to your door. Bang-on-trend, these ladies know their raffia placemats from their scallop-edged napkins. Watch out: the Instagram feed is a rabbit hole of gorgeous interiors.

The Tablescape Company

Andie Beall and Liz McQueen worked as event producers and stylists for 15 years before launching The Tablescape Company. They say: ‘We think of [our service] as rentable high fashion for your table. You can think of it as your secret weapon for hassle-free, super-stylish, zero-waste hosting, without having to buy anything new.’ You choose your look, book in your dates and await the arrival of your box of joy. Check out their service here.

Matilda Goad

Interior stylist Matilda Goad has exquisite taste. Every time she makes the slightest decorative change to her home, we all want to copy it immediately. While her pretty website doesn’t sell actual kits for tablescaping, each item in the ‘tabletop’ section is lively, festive and works brilliantly with the next one. Start with some rainbow cutlery and a packet of jewel coloured candles and go wild from there.

By Becky Ladenburg
August 2020

If you liked reading this, then you might like:

10 Websites For Enamel Homewares
Matilda Goad’s Fave Insta Artisans
Eight Sites For Eco-Friendly Kitchen Products

Becky Ladenburg

Features Editor

As the GWG's features editor, Becky has her discerning finger on the cultural pulse. She's also our go-to expert on the property market.