Trends in home décor come and go, but there’s always been an interest in creating artful table settings. People are as invested in setting a beautiful table today as they were in the late 18th century when the aristocracy turned table-setting into a form of artistic expression. An eye-catching table adds to the ambiance of a gathering as much as the company and what’s served.
In fact, with the rise of social media and our corresponding obsession with sharing how we entertain and celebrate, tables have re-emerged as stunning backdrops for our gatherings. Inspired by lifestyle gurus from Martha Stewart to Carolyne Roehm, and nursing our addictions to the imagery of HGTV and Pinterest, extravagant tablescapes are seemingly the new norm.
Because every beautiful tabletop begins with the china, these are some the more influential trends shaping how we set our tables today.
Registering remains de rigueur
Modern Bride magazine reports that approximately 95 percent of engaged couples register for a tableware pattern, and U.S. brides spend approximately $1.65 billion on tableware per year. And it’s not just newlyweds or the newly cohabiting who are setting their sights on a stylish table. The tableware or tabletop market — which is broken down into dinnerware, glassware, and flatware — is an incredibly robust segment of an almost $60 billion housewares industry.
“A lot of entertaining today is done at home…from game-day get-togethers to formal dinner parties,” said Marsha Dautch, vice president of Jenss Décor division of Reeds Jenss. “Much of our tableware today is more user-friendly than in times past, as well as being great looking.”
Classic styles reign
The distinction between styles has blurred, but dinnerware has customarily fallen into four categories: formal, casual, traditional and contemporary. Dautch said the majority of local brides still register for everyday dishes for daily use and formal china for celebratory occasions.
There are some changes to tradition, however.
“Place settings are a little different now,” said Dautch. “Formal cups and saucers are being replaced by coffee mugs, and clients want soup or pasta bowls added to the place setting.”
Nationally, about 40 percent of purchasers prefer to make their own combinations rather than choose the traditional five-piece setting.
Buyers are also generally looking for quality over quantity when selecting formal dinnerware — a reflection of the trend towards smaller, more intimate gatherings. Dautch does caution that buying a few more place settings than you think you need may be a good strategy, however. “Things break or get discontinued,” she explained.
Beauty in utility
Reflective of millennials’ embrace of minimalism, a fair percentage of couples are now choosing transitional china. Falling between casual and formal styles, this contemporary look is popular among couples who prefer a pared-down lifestyle. These almost-exclusively white dishes feature clean, modern lines and offer multi-purpose functionality. They’re also sold open-stock, so it’s easy to buy replacements or additional settings. National home décor retailers such as Pier 1 Imports, Pottery Barn, and Williams Sonoma all carry their own lines.
Dining by design
If you’ve perused dinnerware lately, you’ll notice that tastemakers like Kate Spade, Vera Wang and Versace have partnered with trusted brands to produce stunning tableware with a chic, modern
vibe. These niche lines tap current fashion trends (for example, metallic accents) in a strategic effort to appeal to hip, fashion-forward shoppers.
Tailored by occasion
Today, tablescapes are all about projecting an aesthetic that’ll enhance the occasion. Flowers, decorative accents, linens and chargers contribute to the overall vibe, but china remains the key element to establish a table’s tone — which can now run the gamut from straight-up glamour to rustic chic.
Seasonal and themed collections have hit the market in a big way, and those who entertain frequently — or on a given holiday — can customize their tables to fit the occasion. Even adding one new piece to your place settings can freshen things up.
“Our ceramic salad plates are a great way to add new elements to your basic dinnerware sets,” said Katelyn Carroll, media relations specialist at Pier 1 Imports. “These items offer our customer the option to mix and match with their favorite collections.”
While trends fade, finding tableware that reflects your personal style and good taste is an effort well worth making — for few things are as welcoming as a well-dressed table.