Consider the top of your table; round or square? Intimate or lengthy? Whatever the aesthetic, it is a space to have your friends and family gather around with you. Today's best chefs go to extreme lengths to present culinary creations and this art approach can be accomplished at home as well. We can all bring that extra delight to the dinner table by giving the same sort of attention to our artistically composed tabletops! So let us consider further...

What if you treated your tabletop as art, as a frame or canvas? Pretend you had all your favourite colours, shapes, layers and textures to use in creating your picture. What would you do? This is the way I love to think about my home when I'm entertaining... I try my best to create a rich, thematic picture on top of my table, so that all who enter the room can't wait to sit down. (First impressions count!) Start out with this 'framed' picture in your mind and let your imagination flow.

The possibilities are endless! Consider a consistent theme (rich purples & creams?) or an artfully chaotic mix of your favourite colours and patterns. Spend time exploring the way you mix and use elements such as textiles, metallics, wood, ceramics, glass, natural elements like flowers or branches and lighting. Each place at the table must be considered as important as the food you are sharing. As places will be set for each guest, the colours you use for glass, pottery or fine china will dominate. Use contrast to enhance the hues and shapes of your tableware (e.g. a white tablecloth will show off your black glassware).


Key elements will stand out to your guests. Glass is often the most important item on a table as it stands proud and reflects ambient light. Flowers can also help to create different atmospheres, casual or formal. Remember to keep your bouquets either low or high up so that everyone can chat comfortably around them. Make place cards part of the occasion, even for low key, fun events; they’re a welcoming touch!

The beautiful photos we’re sharing here were taken at a gala feast celebrating the food and the craft which is produced locally in our County Kilkenny. The event showcased the work of many talented craftspeople, with everything from the glasses to the plates to the cushions made within a 50 kilometre radius. The delicious food on offer was also created locally; from the cider cocktails to the artisanal cheese and sausages. The beautiful rustic style achieved here (in our newly renovated top floor) could be used as an inspiration for an autumn or winter dinner. It was created with planning and imagination but without huge expense.

If you choose to recreate this at home, or use it as inspiration, we'd love to see the images! Share them on our Facebook or Twitter pages to inspire others in turn. 

Photographs are by Darragh Byrne.