summer table.jpg
Ask an Expert: How to Set the Perfect Summer Table
Thursday, July 8, 2010

Heidi Pribell is one of Boston’s most highly acclaimed interior designers and the winner of three consecutive "Best of Boston" awards from Boston Home Magazine. Here, a wonderful way to celebrate the warm months.

The arrival of summer evokes memories of humid, lazy days spent with friends—laughing, relaxing and enjoying each other’s company. A season of good friends, food and fun, summer is the perfect time to host an intimate dinner party.

But as any fabulous host knows, a dazzling first impression is what sets the mood and leaves a long-lasting one. Here are my secrets for setting a summer table that’s perfect for entertaining.

1. Choose a theme. My first step for putting together any great dinner party is to choose a theme. Whether it be French provincial, monochromatic crisp and white or shabby chic, the theme of the dinner table will determine everything from the guests’ attire to the freshly cut accent flowers.

2. Pick out linens. Linens act as the base to build on. A bright, country-style, orange-and-yellow plaid tablecloth and matching napkins work for French provincial, while a monochromatic theme should be crisp, white and pristine. A bed sheet is a perfect, inexpensive and unique tablecloth for shabby chic.

3. Choose a centerpiece. Add depth, height and a focal point by choosing an appropriately themed centerpiece. I prefer to use fresh, seasonal fruit or flowers as a centerpiece because it brings life and energy to the table. The scent and sight of lovely, aromatic lavender perfectly encompasses the rustic feel of French provincial, whereas a sophisticated bouquet would appropriately convey the modern feel of a monochromatic theme. The less formal the better when setting a shabby chic table. Fresh fruit or big, bountiful peonies are welcoming and create a comforting aura.

4. Create your menu. After I’ve determined the focal point, I’ll begin planning the food. Let the theme of the dinner table determine the cuisine, and not vice versa. After all, a summer get-together is about how the two complement each other!

5. Determine the final details. Add the final personal accents that speak to summer dining and highlight any decorating theme. Summer dining is all about conviviality and sharing, so a big bowl for passing or a worn, wooden chopping board topped with cheese or a baguette sets the perfect mood and design for a French provincial dinner. Crystal wine goblets will make guests feel glamorous while adding depth to a monochromatic table. When it comes to shabby chic, anything goes! Well-worn tin plates and mismatched flatware are a fun, unexpected way to pull the table together while adding comfort and eclecticism.


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Heidi Pribell is one of Boston’s most highly acclaimed interior designers. Her work blends a modern, contemporary aesthetic with a passion for culture and the history of fine design and decoration. She draws her inspiration from travel and a love of colors, textures and patterns found in nature. Heidi puts a fresh, modern twist on classic design by using bold colors, patterns and textures, which give her unique interiors a young, elegant and sophisticated appeal. In 1996, she founded Heidi Pribell Interiors, an award-winning residential interior design company based in Cambridge, Mass., which creates evocative, inspired environments for a discerning clientele. Since 2008, Heidi has received three consecutive "Best of Boston" awards from Boston Home magazine.

[all images: © Eric Roth]


I love the creativity, i have created a lot of that, great
By Anonymous 2267 days ago

Ooh what a country chic table! I'm in love!!!!
By Anonymous 2296 days ago

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