Thursday 19 October 2017 News Updated at 07:10 AM IST
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The fine art of table setting - Deccan Herald
The fine art of table setting
Jasmine Jhaveri
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Table setting
The dinner table is the heart of every home, a place where stories are shared and memories created! Good food, good ambience and good design indulge the senses and create great experiences. During the festive season, the dining space becomes extremely important. This is because a significant aspect of the celebration is entertaining and hosting parties at home.

But the main concern many homeowners have is regarding the decor of this particular space. How should one actually set the table? How to choose the decor that’s in sync with the rest of the festive decor? How many plates and glasses should be placed for every person? While this task may seem daunting, there is always a solution. Here are some ideas on how to set the perfect table.

Basics table setting tips

• The basic rule of table setting is that the utensils are placed in the order of use i.e., from the outside to inside. A second rule, with only a few exceptions, is that the forks go to the left of the plate, and knives and spoons go to the right.

• Placemats (if to be used) should be placed in front of each chair, about one to two inches from the edge of the table.

• Dessert spoons and forks are brought in on the dessert plate just before dessert is served. →→

• One can use a charger plate which can serve as the underplate for several courses which precede the entree, which serves as an underplate for the plate holding the first course.

• Glasses are placed on the right, above the knives and spoons. They can number up to five and are placed in the order they will be used. The water goblet is placed directly above the knives. Just to the right are placed red or white wine glass. Glasses used for a particular course are removed at the end of the course.

• The napkin is placed on top of the charger (if one is used) or in the space for the plate. It can also go to the left of the forks, or under the forks if space is tight. Avoid putting napkins in the glass as it can topple the glasses when removing them.

Formal & informal affairs
The type of dining occasion determines where to lay the dinnerware. Depending on the occasion, you may want to use a 'formal’ or an 'informal’ table setting. What’s important to know is that at a multi-course meal, notably a formal affair, each course is served one at a time and dinnerware is laid in the centre. Cups and saucer do not appear on the table till in the end.

On the other hand, the menu is simpler and the course is presented on the table all at once for an informal meal. For the formal setting, one can go for a golden look. Gold is the perfect go-to colour for the festive season. Fabrics like natural linen mixed with silk, jacquards and organza add visual appeal. Playing with different crockery but sticking to similar forms and colour creates interest.

Going Indian
For a desi table setting, use fresh flowers and candles as they never go out of style. Break away from the usual mix of orange and yellow marigolds. If you are planning a Diwali lunch, use a vibrant mix of pink bougainvillaea flowers. Use a floral organza runner, lavender-scented candles and mogras. One can also go for a thin mirror cut-out in the centre of the table as a base for candles and crystal tea lights. It is the most attractive and sure-shot way to add instant light and dimension to any space.

Japan-inspired
Go a little different with your high tea setting! The geishas are synonymous with the 'art of entertainment’. Using this as your inspiration, choose to break away from the delicate white and gold china and the vintage crockery to a more modern and fun approach to the setting. The table setting created for high tea has a strong visual drama with red geisha lips and strokes of black eyebrows on white china plates all hand-painted and fired. The circular red napkins pinched at the top with the satin dori rings and the table mats in linen accentuate the tableware.

One can use charger plates for more layering and highlight the plate setting. Note that the table decor should be minimal in this case.

From the Mediterranean
Have the dining setup inspired by the marvellous landscape of the Mediterranean. Take inspiration from the azure blue skies and the whitewashed houses of Córdoba. Set up the table with blue and white linen mats. Place white playful dinnerware with beaded edges. Finish the look with a burst of ombre sea blue linen napkins. The table decor can have a vine with lemons. Place pillar candles in white for a complete look.

Ambience & decor
• Menu: Determine the occasion and plan your menu accordingly. You may want to use a formal or informal setting. Traditional afternoon tea consists of a selection of sandwiches (usually cut into 'fingers’), scones served with clotted cream and jam.

• Have a centrepiece: For a look that’s clearly fabulous, there’s nothing like a centrepiece of fresh flowers grouped together in similar colours, but make sure it isn’t too tall (10”-12” is an acceptable maximum height).

• Music: Complete the ambience with soft background music.

Lastly, keep basic rules of design in mind. A good design needs to perform to optimise its given functionality. It should be powerful enough to stimulate through its aesthetics and create the 'wow’, yet be simple and thorough down to the last detail.

(The author is an interior stylist, Jasmine Jhaveri Design Studio)

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