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How to Create an 'Instagrammable' Tablescape, According to Jessica Nguyen

It’s easy to get hooked into the latest and greatest interior trend, especially when it’s plastered all over your Instagram and Pinterest feed. From indoor jungles to Grandmillenial style, ornate art walls, velvet furniture and twisted candles, there’s always a trend that will capture your attention because social media makes it look absolutely exquisite. The problem is, most trends go out of style a few months down the track and then it’s back to scrolling and spending money on ways to style your home to impress you and everyone who walks through your doors.

But there’s one trend that has continued - and will continue - to live on: the art of tablescaping. It's those picture-perfect Instagram posts of impeccably dressed tables lined with a linen tablecloth and napkins, set with exquisite crockery and layered with cheeseboards, an abundance of artisan food, florals, greenery and candles.


There’s a good chance you’re probably already a tablescaping artist to some extent (do you love rearranging art books, candles and sculptures just so?) or you’ve already given the trend a go. But how can you take it one step further and master these tablescaping skills? What does it take to create a spread that will have your guests raving about for years to come?

To find out, we asked one of Australia’s best home cooks and Put on a Spread alumni Jessica Nguyen, to reveal her ultimate tablescaping secrets.

Shop our Tableware collection here.


How to Create an 'Instagrammable' Tablescape, According to Jessica Nguyen

For Nguyen, creating the perfect tablescape is more than just making it 'Instagrammable'.

"When I style a table, I don't create it with the objective for it to be 'Instagrammable'," she explains to Bed Threads Journal. "To me, a tablescape is really personal. Just like wearing fashion, it needs to reflect the food, mood and occasion you're dressing it up for."

Here's how to do just that in six easy steps: 

1. Decide the menu

What’s the cuisine? What’s the occasion? What vibe are you going for? Once you know the answers to these, you can start planning the tablescape, taking into account things that are in season like florals and specific colours.


2. Go bold with colour

I use lots of colours in all of my elements from crockery, glassware, cutlery, table linen to the food itself to create impact because we ultimately eat with our eyes. I mainly use colours to create impression and then use a mixture of textures and heights of objects and serveware to create interest.

3. Invest in the perfect tablecloth

A table is always instantly transformed with a tablecloth, so this would be my first tip and recommended piece to invest in first above all else. A tablecloth in a beautiful colour or print will do most of the legwork in a tablescape.

As for napkins, don’t be afraid to opt for a colour that doesn’t match your tablecloth. A contrasting colour or print will inject interest, and the way you present and fold your napkin will add texture. You could lazily drape your napkin in the centre of your plate, letting the ends fall over the table and placing your knife and fork on top as weight for a casual look. Or, if you’re after more structure and formality, you could do a neat book fold. Again, ask yourself: what is the occasion and what is the vibe? Whatever you do, just remember: never place your napkins on the left side of the plate.


4. Mix-and-match crockery

Don't be afraid to use crockery in different colours or that aren't even a full set. By using a mixture of different printed plates and serveware, you can make your setting look more personal, interesting and less austere.

5. Set your serveware first 

Place down your serveware onto your table beforehand to figure out how much space you have to play with and plan what dishes will go into which vessel. By doing this, you can get an idea of how full your table will be, and then from there if you have space or feel like you need to add in more things, you can add in table fillers like a flower arrangement or candle. 


6. Go easy with florals

On that note, however, keep in mind that although a beautiful bunch of flowers or a selection of candles will make a table look stunning, only think of these items as supporting roles to the food and drink. They should be used more sparingly and as a compliment. After all, there's nothing worse than spending all that money and effort on an elaborate arrangement that you then have to move off the table to fit the food, or one that is so high that you can't see your guest seated on the other side.


Shop our Tableware collection here.

Jessica Nguyen is the CEO of 'chilli oil on everything' and The Makers alumni. Follow her on Instagram @jessica_nguyen.

Want more on this? Here's a step-by-step guide on how to create the ultimate tablescape in two dreamy colour schemes.

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