This summer, I’m embracing yellow, orange and pink. I don’t know if it’s a subconscious thing because yellow is the Pantone Colour of the Year, but I’m craving bright colours, sunshine, cheer and playfulness. I like the idea of barefoot, carefree escapism and dirt-floor decadence – a little bit “Summer of Love”.
I always have a tablecloth outside, because it’s softer, and I like it in the breeze. I used to have a lovely railway sleeper table that I got at the Chelsea Flower Show, which I got rid of because it was so big. Now I have a simple black metal table from the Conran Shop, which I treat like a moveable feast and move around depending on the position of the sun.
Nothing can ruin outdoor dining like too much sun, rain or wind. Recently, I bought a huge, white fringed parasol from Business & Pleasure Co, which does the most chic cabanas and vintage deck chairs.
“Matchimalism” is my signature. I layer different prints, textures and colour schemes, like florals and pale blue or Hunter green ginghams. It’s maximalist, and it’s matching. Anything with a white background is refreshing and failsafe for outdoor dining too. I love co-ordinating mint or sage green with white, and monogrammed vintage French washed linens with random initials. I’ve also been making tie-dye Shibori-style tablecloths with stained linens, a fun hack to reuse and upcycle them for a party and an instant good time. You don’t want to be too precious – it’s not supposed to be perfect or pristine. Wicker placemats and Falcon enamelware are both durable and pretty. But it’s so easy to buy a few metres of material online or on Berwick Street’s haberdashery shops and make your own tablecloths and napkins.
Beautiful but utilitarian features, like chinoiserie ice buckets and ceramic Sicilian Moor’s head flower pots, which I collect, draw the eye. I have festoon lighting, and really like multi-coloured Murano and vintage candlesticks and tea lights, but they have to be sheltered from the wind. You just can’t have naked candle flames outside.
My boyfriend is a photographer and artist and has got really involved with tablescaping with me. He sees it as a crazy domestic art form. It’s a fun thing to do together and get your guests involved with.
I put dahlias and coral-charm peonies in green bottles, and I love fans for decoration and in case it gets hot – they are a fun thing to have on the table. Glass paperweights to stop place settings and paper menus from blowing away. Using clear-glass plates with menus underneath is a good trick, and clear-glass plates are also perfect if you don’t want to detract from the print of your tablecloth.