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Understated Summer Table

We're in the midst of summer and if I'm being honest, it's not my favorite season. I know it's not a popular opinion, but I'm just more of a fall/winter person. But I try to appreciate each season for what it is and one way I'm doing that for summer is through decor. I wanted to create a beautiful table I could enjoy with my family filled with all the great summer vibes I do love. I hoped doing this would get me a little more in the summer mood and it totally worked! This tablescape made me long for summer nights, cooking outdoors, and relaxing after a day spent at the pool.

Whether you love summer or not, I strongly recommend this little creative exercise to get those summer vibes flowing through your home! It doesn't have to be anything extravagant or over the top. I think summer decor really works when you go with the less is more approach and keep the emphasis on the food and the company. Here are a few of my tips for setting a beautifully understated summer table.


I went for a seasonal garland spanning the length of my table for my centerpiece. Summer to me is the smell of citrus and flowers like magnolias and gardenias so this garland was perfect. Tall centerpieces can certainly be a gorgeous addition to a table, but keeping it low allows for easy conversation flow across the entire table, keeping the emphasis on the people you're gathering with.

I did want to give a little height variation to the table so I staggered a few white pillar candles throughout my garland. This also provides a beautiful, warm glow to the table which is perfect for summer nights.

If you incorporate candles in your table decor, it can be a really nice touch to choose a seasonal scent, but always keep in mind the food you'll be serving and try to avoid any potential clash of the senses. For this table, I played it safe and went with unscented candles, but if I were to incorporate a scent, I probably would have chosen something with citrus or a subtle floral since those elements are visible on my table in my garland.

Color Palette

I chose a minimal and natural color palette for my table. Keeping things more neutral allows the color I do include to really pop. I only have a few orange items on my table, but because everything else is more subtle, those oranges really stand out!

Sometimes summer decor can go a little overboard when it comes to color. Everything is super bright and bold and a statement color and if you aren't careful, it can start to look like a caricature of summer rather than a celebration of the season. You can still play up bright colors in your decor, but if you stay with tones that are found in nature and in that summer season (like yellow lemons, red strawberries, blue sea glass or green herbs), your finished table will look a little more sophisticated and elegant rather than a fun, kid's birthday party.


Layering is always always always important when it comes to tablescaping. This can be easy in the fall and winter months when layering options seem abundant and obvious, but you can find lots of ways to incorporate layers on a spring or summer table as well!

Stack your dishes to create height and interest. Chargers are a great layering tool, but I wanted to keep this table as simple and laidback as possible so I decided against them this time.

To emphasize my layers, I draped my napkins within my stacked place settings to visually break it up. I wanted to keep my dishes neutral and all one color because they aren't the star of my table, but I still thought they could use that little extra pop that would make them fit effortlessly into the overall look of the table and the orange provides just that. You'll also notice I placed my napkins in a very undone, relaxed way. This also contributes to that simple, laidback look I'm going for.

Incorporating Food into Decor

Like I said before, I wanted my table to be beautiful, but I wanted my real emphasis to be on the food and the guests. The way my table is staged allows for food to be easily placed within the design. I serve bread at most of my meals so I made sure to leave a spot where everyone can reach to start the meal off with a delicious loaf of fresh bread.

You can do this for an appetizer or charcuterie board and if you provide a little pedestal like I did with my cutting board, you can easily swap out the dish with each course of the meal!

I'm so glad I gave myself this small, creative project to put myself in the summer mood. It definitely did the job and made me appreciate those special moments that are so unique to summer. If you aren't really a summer person, I hope I was able to give you a little summer inspiration to make the season a bit more enjoyable for you. If you love summer, I hope I was able to capture some of your favorite parts of your favorite season in a simple and elegant way!


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