The kitchen table can become a pivotal point of any kitchen design, both in itself or because of the way you decorate it. So don’t let it become just another surface waiting to be piled up with junk.
First of all, consider the table itself. Some are built in as part of the kitchen design, like a bar counter top or a surface that can fold out from an adjacent counter top. Others are freestanding items of furniture. The freestanding type ranges from plain items, to beautiful crafted items, usually made from wood or steel. Wooden tables may be made from local timbers or from exotic imported timbers, with straight planed legs to beautifully turned legs. Steel tables are welded together and often have glass tops that add to the decorative appeal.
So you will see that well made, the table can become decorative in its own right, however functional it is meant to be.
But it doesn’t matter whether your table is beautiful or not, a little creativity decorating the kitchen table can add a certain charm and appeal to the room that a bare table won’t achieve. And you can leave it like this every day, or change certain aspects whenever you want to.
Day to Day Décor for the Table
One of the simplest ways to decorate a table, any day of the week, is with flowers. These may be fresh, dried or fake. Don’t sniff at fake, because there are many fun possibilities around today, ranging from cheap and cheerful plastic, to beaded wire or even carved wood. But then fresh flowers – the real thing – can and do look gorgeous, especially when you’ve grown and picked them yourself.
But it isn’t just the flowers that you need to consider if this is what you’re going to do. The vase is just as important, if not more important, when it comes to decorating with flowers. Think about size, shape and color of the container, and consider assembling a small collection of vases that you can rotate, so that your table never looks exactly the same.
Clear glass vases can look amazing, and you can add character with glass chips, marbles or even sea shells sunk into the base of the container. Just be sure to wash these bits and pieces whenever you change the arrangement, otherwise they will become slimy and decidedly unattractive within a relatively short period of time.
Another lovely way to decorate a table in the kitchen is with fresh fruit and vegetables. The beauty of this approach is that you keep changing the arrangement as you eat and cook with them. Just be careful not to add fruit and veg that will deteriorate out of the refrigerator, like tomatoes, peppers or well-ripened bananas or avocados. Lemons, onions (mix white with red), apples and garlic all last for a good while, and of course you can add green tomatoes and bananas or avos that have not quite ripened yet. If you have young children and want to encourage them to eat healthy fruit, then make sure the bowl is always full of nourishing fruits that will attract them.
Candlesticks also look good on a table, as long as it doesn’t start to resemble a shrine. Mix and match colors and shapes, or use candlesticks that are a feature in themselves.
The position of the table also plays a role when it comes to decorating. For example, if your kitchen table is in the centre of the room or at least away from any of the walls, then decorating the kitchen table will probably revolve around the center of the table. If it is positioned against a wall, your approach can be quite different. In this instance, you might like to think about a small collection of several different items, from recipe books to decorative tins. Even vinegar and olive oil can look deliciously decorative. Pot plants or potted herbs are another option, provided there is some sunlight to keep them alive. Think out of the box and don’t be a slave to fashion.
Décor for a Table in Use
Whether you are eating as a family or using the kitchen as a venue for entertaining friends, don’t ever ignore what the table looks like. Your approach might be as simple as covering it with a colorful cloth, to making it looks stylishly sophisticated, with things like silver cutlery, bone china crockery and crystal glass. Even if you’re using the table as a serving surface for a very casual meal, you can make it look really great and a feast for the eyes.
Traditional décor of any table usually involved very correct table settings which few people bother about today. But this in itself can look incredibly decorative, and even if you don’t use all the knives and for eating, you could add an element of good old education into the meal.
A wonderful little book, Any one can bake, published by the Royal Baking Powder Co. (New York City) in 1929 has two fascinating photographic examples of table settings. One is for a formal luncheon and the other for an informal supper. It’s all very Colonial stuff, with lots of knives and forks on the table, as well as drinking pitchers and glasses, and plenty of flowers. Table mats and napkins complete the picture in both instances.
Table setting correctness has become less important over the decades, but a well-set table will always look decorative. For example, forks on the left, knives on the right, and spoons either on the right of the knives, or at the head of where the plate or bowl would be set. Then the side plate should be on the left of the forks – or according to Royal, above the tip of the forks – but glasses always on the right above the knives.
Traditional rules regarding cutlery are that they are placed in the order of use (first on the outside), and that knives should always have their sharp edges turned in towards the plate.
Traditional table décor for any sort of meal includes candles, flowers and fruit. Rolls or bread can also become part of the décor scheme, as can any salt and pepper sets, or vinegar, oil and salad dressing containers.
The casual table will more likely have a pile of knives, forks and spoons, usually separate from one another, and an adjacent pile of plates for people to help themselves. But it should not look any less decorative to the formal tables in the best top restaurants.
At the end of the day, when it comes to decorating the kitchen table, all you need to do is aim for a pretty picture that you like. Remember that this isn’t décor you have to live with forever; instead you can change it frequently, as often as you like.