How To Style Your Dining Room With Sarah Ward
Whatever the occasion, make your surroundings as delightful as the dishes you’re serving. With lockdown easing, we’re looking forward to hosting in style. We talk to our Founder and Creative Director, Sarah Ward, on how she loves to style, host, forage and cook.
As we shift away from stuff and towards experiences, styling or tablescaping, which has been around for eons (it was popular back in the 18th century among aristocratic crowds), is having a major moment.
The Instagramification of anything and everything is definitely playing a role, as we show off our intimate dinners to hundreds, or even thousands, of followers. More than just a centrepiece, a tablescape is a mood, a way of dressing the table in a considered, stylish and personalised fashion. Some might even call the process – the opposite of our rushed, frenzied lives – effective self-care. It’s almost a meditation session for me – I adore hosting and having my family and friends together around a curated table.
Often, my tables are centred around a theme, whether that’s rustic for a wonderfully relaxed summer luncheon, or more formal; designed to reflect a celebration. Luckily, being in lockdown in Suffolk has meant we’ve had the luxury of space. Inside, outside and socially distanced, under the government guidelines of course, hosting has occurred. Mostly informal in nature but my table is always ready to go – I’d rather eat dinner on my lap in front of the TV than an undressed table. Perhaps that is the interior designer in me!
No matter the theme or occasion, there are a few key ingredients I can suggest that help to make a tablescape one to remember – and one that you enjoy creating. This is one case where adopting a layered “more is more” approach can really pay off.
I recommend starting with fresh foliage, either herbs or fern pots, or even faux lily of the valley works well. I absolutely love white Roses or Geberas — you can create dramatic displays with very few blooms. Use a mix of bud vases for a low-level floral display so as not to detract from all the chit-chatting and add greenery for texture. Choose a main colour – something natural like green and go from there.
It’s all about layering and there is always lots of adding and removing, but that’s part of the fun. Use a plain rattan placemat (I’ll be launching the POSH Rattan Collection in 2021) then layer up the china and glasswear – I love Villeroy & Boch Grand Royal Collection. Extra tall tapered candles and napkins help to add an overall cosiness with touches of countryside aesthetic; a light colour palette really helps. If you would like a plainer look, a crisp linen napkin always looks fantastic.
The best tablescapes always complement the food they accompany. I always try to tailor the aesthetics of my table to the meal. Having a good quality set of chopsticks for Japanese cuisine and beautiful traditional ceramic rice bowls or frightfully British Wedgewood chinaware for my very well-regarded Sunday roasts!
Tablescaping is about curating your table, so unusual and humorous – yet still elegant – tableware can really help to set the mood, but it doesn’t stop there. Interaction is a huge reason I host. I love catching up with my children over a glass of champagne in the living room before we take our seats. And good nibbles go a long way. Occasionally, I’ll manage to persuade my husband to make some delectable homemade pre-dinner snacks.
The “New Perennial” movement has meant I have been able to break boundaries in my garden and I have truly unleashed my painterly side. I’m extremely proud of my Wisteria and other flora – so many of my guests will also request a garden tour. I also have been, continuously, working on my allotment, more of those updates can be seen on my Instagram.
Weather dependent, I’ll try my best during the Summer months to host outside on our large, antique marble mosaic table which is positioned under the Wisteria Arber with beautiful up-lighting and outside speakers – which makes for a perfect post-dinner aperitif too. Inside, we have an impactful dining table; asymmetric glass on top of petrified timber columns with Bauhaus chairs. I always try to mirrors to enlarge the dining space.
Away from the table be sure to consider any areas that your guests will visit. Lower lighting light a scented candle in a bathroom and position a soft arrangement of freshly picked blooms in a hallway to create a real welcome and pull the overall look together.
With the coronavirus lockdown, many of us have been unable to entertain as normal in our homes, but there’s been no stopping me from slaving away in the kitchen. Having the time and space to cook in my own home has been a luxury. I’ve delved into more adventurous recipes and it’s been so fun to pop to the local fish markets in town. I don’t really enjoy the supermarket, so I can be usually be found in small, local food stores or in my garden/allotment foraging dinner requirements from ground directly to table. Below are a few of my favorite easy guides for you to enjoy.
Grow Fruit & Vegetables in Pots by Aaron Bertelsen
A must-read for urban kitchen gardeners, this is an in-depth and beautifully illustrated guide to growing glorious edibles in containers – complemented by 50 recipes to expand your plot-to-plate repertoire.
The Salad Garden by Joy Larkcom
The queen of the organic kitchen garden published this book in 1984 but the 2017 re-edition is just as relevant today: everything you need to know about setting up a potager and growing 200 salad plants from scratch.
If you’d like to talk to Sarah and Rosie about an interior design project, don’t hesitate to get in touch, by email:
firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone:
+44 (0)20 3667 7796.