The prospect of laying out a table, especially for a large group of people, can be overwhelming. You have to know how many plates you need and whether they all have to match. (Spoiler alert: No.) What about centerpieces? It is a good thing that Robert Rufino, House Beautiful's style director, is a master when it comes to styling (just take a look at what he can do with some simple grocery store flowers) and he is particularly good at table settings.
Rufino has designed window displays for Tiffany & Co., so you know that any of his setup will be amazing—but, as he proves while setting a table with Lenox china in the video above, is it doesn't have to be that complicated. Below, Rufino's tips for a table that will have your guests itching to sit down, cocktail hour be damned.
Mix New And Old
House Beautiful editorial director Jo Saltz, whose home served as the filming location for this shoot, inherited a set of Lenox's Rutledge porcelain from her parents. (Coincidentally, I also happen to own a set of Rutledge—mine came from my grandmother!—so can attest the set is ideal for mixing.) Rufino chose to layer the floral pattern with some of Saltz's new Lenox pieces: Stoneware dinner plates, navy Chelse Muse dinner plates, floral Sprig & Vine accent plates, Global Tapestry dessert plates.
"Designing a table is like making a painting," Rufino says. "Mixing old and new is a great way to get texture." The Colebrook Onyx flatware provides contrast to the mix-and-matched place settings.
Play With Pattern
“But don't feel like mixing has to mean coordinated solid colors—far from it,” says Rufino. "Pattern on pattern is a great way of expressing oneself." He stacked solid and patterned plates for this tabletop design, starting with the dinner plate and finishing with the a dessert plate at the top.
Add Some Color
For a tablescape that will really stand out, color is key. Rufino added some solid colors in the form of Lenox's Profile stoneware (yes, mixing porcelain and more casual stoneware is A-OK!), colorful glass Sprig & Vine bowls, and clear Tuscany Classics wine glasses. If your everyday plates are white, colored glasses or a few colorful accent plates are a great way to add a pop of color without breaking the bank. "I love the idea of using your basic white plate on the bottom and then adding a small plate in blue or green on top," says Rufino.
The most important lesson? "Have fun with your table!" Rufino insists. Love a crazy colorful mix? Go for it. Into a more muted, tonal feel? That's fine too! At the end of the day, the table is a way to express yourself, Rufino says. Think of it as a little gift to your guests. "When your company comes to the table, they have a little something to enjoy before the food comes out," Rufino explains. And who doesn't want that?