Last week I was in colorful Newfoundland, the most northeastern part of the North American continent and the first place in North America to greet each new day. The houses are all painted bright, vivid colors and are called “jellybeans” because of their resemblance to the brightly-colored candy. The weather while I was there was pristine and I kept finding my mind wondering about how to put those beautiful, happy colors into everyday life. The vivid pinks, reds, oranges, blues, and greens might be too intense for a whole room, but they’d be perfect in a summer place setting – a place where a splash of summer color would look cooling and fun, too.
Whether outdoors or indoors, a festive and colorful table makes for festive dining. It’s also a place where you can indulge your color fantasies without being stuck with fuchsia all over the walls like those daring Newfoundlanders. Of course, they probably welcome the cheery colors in the deep winter when the weather is a smothering gray and icy drizzle.
Napkins and table runners
If you’ve got lots of storage space, buy colorful and brightly-colored placemats and try mixing and matching them in varying designs. Some placemats come in families of colors, such as turquoise and orange and often come in families of designs, such as floral and stripes. Instead of having all striped placemats, mix the designs in the same color families for a unique twist.
But, if you’re like most people and space is at a premium, buy large napkins as stand-ins for placemats. Storing napkins is much easier because they take up less room than standard placemats and you can buy more and in a variety of colors, letting you take your place settings to all kinds of fun places. And, because napkins often cost less than placemats, you’ll save money, too. Place napkins on an angle to make it more interesting looking. Another option besides placemats are table runners running lengthwise and then across for your place settings. You can add placemats if you want to or not, the choice is up to you.
There’s nothing like crisp white plates to set off the reds of summer-ripe tomatoes or watermelon. Food looks fantastic on white plates and the bright white makes the cheery colors of summer foods pop off the plate. White plates are also versatile, so virtually any pattern or color of napkin or placemat will work with them – making your range of designs endless. The nice thing is that inexpensive sets can be purchased at most any home, linen, or décor store.
Out of the box
Put your summer tablescape together with items you have around the house and try items you wouldn’t ordinarily think of – it will make your table much more daring and unique. A napkin ring can be made from raffia, colorful ribbon, even twisted pipe cleaners. Or, buy inexpensive ponytail holders in sunny colors or that have summery items like seashells on them to use as napkin holders.
Too much produce from the garden?
Mound squash, tomatoes, eggplant or whatever you have the most of in the center of the table on a silk ivy plant. It’s a fresh-from-the-garden centerpiece that also shows off your gardening prowess. If you have an especially pretty potted flowering plant, use that as your centerpiece and tuck in tapers or votives in holders for a sparkling and natural centerpiece.
Get thee to a dollar store
Another terrific source of fun items for the table is the dollar store. Inexpensive items found there can dress up your table for some summer fun and you can buy lots of cute items without going into debt to do it. Better still, if you get tired of it in one summer, you can always toss it out or garage sale it, and buy more next year. I found terrific margarita glasses at a dollar store for $1 each. I later found these same glasses at a chic homestore for $4 apiece – so don’t overlook your dollar store as a good source of fun and inexpensive summer dining items. Look for cute plastic plates and cups, inexpensive glasses, even placemats. It’s feels great to get so much for so little, too.
Make your living space fun with bright and colorful place settings you’ll enjoy all summer long.