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8 Ways to Add Character to Your Dining Setups

Casa Mercedes' Monchet Olives shared his expert advice on how to add personality and flair to your dining setup. In this example, he used banig for a canvas and other locally sourced items from advocacy fair MaARTe vendors.


"For this tablescape, we chose the colors blue and beige because we thought it complemented the banigs, and the flowers—succulents are so in now—it's the type that you can leave on your table after dinner, and don't have to worry about it," Monchet says. "The inspiration here is to mix and match—to use items that are available locally and to veer away from what I call the 'white linen table service with parched linens, all white and sterling silver and glasses.'"

For your next party at home, take your design cues from these table setting tips:

1. Don’t be afraid if the sets don’t match. It’s this whole boho chic feel that gives you that air of casualness.
2. Always put flowers, and never make it too high that you can’t see the person across from you.
3. Think about the menu. Dishes should be easy to prepare and serve. We’re not with the same number of househelp as before. Have a sideboard where you can put your dishes, and guests can help themselves.
4. Always set the table with a few more pieces of cutlery than you need, for the simple fact that you may have dunked your fork in another dish, and you don’t want them to mix. I always put an extra set.
5. Always use cloth napkins. It adds an air of civility, especially if you’re just having a casual lunch or merienda or a snack.
6. When preparing your buffet, make sure you have an assortment of platters. I’m not very fond of these wooden chopping boards, and everything kind of spills out. I prefer that for food with sauce, make sure the serving dishes have an edge.
7. Don’t be afraid to put a spoon. Some people are horrified when you’re having a dinner and there’s a spoon. Face reality. The people with their pinkies up are few and far between. If you want a casual environment, put a spoon. People will know when and when not to use it. Also, when completing your table setting, make sure to put your dessert fork and your coffee teaspoon on top.
8. Have fun. You must have fun. I like this, I call it baroque chic, I like to mix and match things, and there’s
always a conversation piece when you put it on your table, perhaps something you bought on one of your trips. Try to pattern it and lay it out.


Photographs by Philip Sison