When planning this year's fall table decor ideas, you've got two options. go with a subtle nod to the time of year or embrace the season with both hands with a tablescape fit for an autumnal feast.
Tablescaping is a major trend in entertaining, and hosting at home is now all about ramping it up with tables laden with flowers, candles, place names, personalized napkins and a fabulous floral display. 'Elaborate table decor is becoming the norm in style-first households,' says Sarah Spiteri, editorial director at Livingetc. And it's not just for special occasions.
When looking for theme inspiration, take your cues from the outdoors and what nature is doing, bring the outside in for a comforting, hospitable tablescape. 'Creating a tablescape is to curate drama, ambience and mood,' says designer, Rachel Usher. 'Our surroundings deeply affect us, so taking the time to dress a table which plays to the venue and also the season will envelop your guests in an immersive experience.' For our favorite looks and dining room ideas to steal at home this fall, read on.
Oonagh is an experienced homes writer and editor with a penchant for all things interior decorating. For this article, Oonagh has spoken to the tablescape experts to find out how to create the perfect autumn table, fit for a style-first home.
How should I decorate my table for fall?
For a dinner party that's bound to impress, consider going all out with the fall-inspired decor, from an autumn-inspired color palette, a bounty of fruit and vegetable taken from the fall harvest, and even tasteful nods to Halloween when the time rolls around.
'Spring and summer are celebrated with pretty pastels, woven textures and pops of colorful pattern and we enjoy filling Christmas tables to the brim with stags, twinkling trees, pine cones and lush velvets,' says Katie Fairlie from professional tablescape company, Truffle Tablescapes, 'so why not autumn? As well as special décor around the home during autumn, our table looks incorporate soft harvest looks, autumnal accessories and decorative nods to Hallowe’en.'
1. Opt for a classic autumnal color palette
Nothing says fall like the typical seasonal color palette of rusty reds, cranberry, burgundy, gold, spiced orange hues and earthy brown shades. And it may be obvious, but embracing this scheme is the first way to achieving a sumptuous fall table decoration. The key to how to create a color palette for a fall table is to think of all the elements of the table - the plates, the cutlery, the linen - and how you can use these colors from nature in your aesthetic.
'These colors bring a decadent feel that nods to the colors of autumn leaves,' says Alice Herbert of tablescape decor company, LAY London (opens in new tab). 'If you've got neutral or white tableware, you can also add accents in these pops of color.'
If you're worried about going too cliched with the autumn tablescapes, stray from the obvious oranges, rusts, chocolate browns and dial it down. 'We like to go more muted color schemes and tonal combinations like harvest gold, dove grey and cream, or soft French blue, navy and silver,' says Katie from Truffle Tablescapes (opens in new tab). 'Black and white, combined with classic auburns and rusts, also work particularly well during autumn.'
2. Incorporate natural textures and materials
Fall has strong ties to nature and the outdoors, and as the seasons change, our minds turn to thoughts of the trees, displaying a kaleidoscope of autumnal hues on the leaves. And with that, we look to embrace nature and the outdoors with our dining table ideas, too.
Incorporating natural textures, fibers and materials is a great way to celebrate the season. 'Rustic textures are perfect on a table throughout the autumn months,' says Katie. 'We love braided or woven seagrass placements which are an attractive, eco-friendly and biodegradable dining solution,' she says. 'Their warm, natural color will tone in with your autumn color schemes. Alternatively, try to bring a slice of log into the tablescape, with wooden place mats or coasters, or some golden-toned rattan.
Also try using soft, washed linen napkins, tablecloths or runners - the natural material will add extra texture and will drape beautifully across the table, and linen has a thickness and depth to it that gives off warmth.
3. Display fall's best flora and fauna
Seasonal flowers are an easy way to inject an autumnal update to your décor and table.
'Use a mix of in-season flowers which signal the beginning of fall,' says Milly from Olive & Co (opens in new tab). Go for one centrepiece bunch of flowers in the centre of your table, and dot small bud vases across the table runner to mix things up.
Hydrangea too can be found this time of year, in greens, purples, burnt oranges and reds. A few stems cut short in wide, low glass vases or in porcelain tureens will create an elegant feel to your tablescape, plus if you take care of hydrangeas in a vase properly, they'll last a while. 'Our favourite flower – dahlias – are in season in an array of fabulous colours from orange, bright pink and peach to red and rouge noir,' says Alice. 'We love styling dahlias as single stems in tall narrow vases or apothecary jars. A scattering of these at different heights along the table will go a long way and look magic.'
Why not hang from the ceiling or on the walls too - consider a tasteful bough of cheery hops, strung across the ceiling or dried summer flowers hung upside down, tied together with string, evocative of the countryside and a reminder of the end of summer and the close of the year on the horizon. Sunflowers look beautiful dried up, as does a bunch of lavender. Another nice touch might be conkers and pine cones, taken straight from the garden.
4. Take inspiration from your vegetable patch
As well as flowers, think about the abundance of produce during the harvest. 'Whole fruits like pears and apples, as well as vegetables like pumpkins are a great addition to a table,' says Katie, and they make a great vase when hollowed out.
Look to your vegetable garden for inspiration for what else grows this time of year. Swedes and squashes can also sit nicely alongside your pumpkin and give a real cheery harvest look, as well as bejeweled pomegranates cut in half, or grapes and berries which will give a banquet feel to your table.
5. Go for candles for a warming evening glow
The golden flickering light of a natural flame is another great way to add ambiance in abundance, and with the night-time creeping in earlier, we need that evening light to cast its beautiful glow on the table.
Think about different heights of candlestick to add layers of interest to the scheme and create a luxury dining room look. From pretty tealights flickering away in a dainty candleholder to tall candlesticks. Long candlesticks are coming in a real range of colors and patterns at the moment, with wavy and curved looks straying from the traditional look, candles molded into interesting shapes and sizes, and beautiful candlestick holders. 'I love a brass candle stick holder for fall,' recommends Milly. 'Jewel-tone tapered candles and brass feel autumnal and give a cozy rich vibe to the table.'
Finally, there is little-to-no use going to all this effort for your candles if your table is set up in a brightly lit room. 'Dim the lights in the room your tablescape is in, and turn off overhead lighting,' advises Milly.
6. Try tasteful Halloween accessories
This is slightly trickier to get right. Halloween is usually all about over the top decor, after all. It's kitsch and playful and a bit tongue-in-cheek, but tone it down and you might be able to give your tablescape a playful nod to Halloween without going overboard.
Katie from Truffle Tablescapes gets the balance right with clusters of velvet pumpkins, shimmering satin or feathery flourishes. 'Cute toadstools can be placed along your linen runner down the centre of the table,' she adds.
7. Carefully set the table
If you're entertaining for an fall dinner party, you want to make sure your cutlery, plates and glasses also fit your dining room color scheme.
'Apply two or three plates for each serving, the top plate can be a vintage find with a bold decorative pattern to add warmth and color to the scheme,' advises Rachel Usher (opens in new tab) of the eponymous interior design company.
'Three glasses per guest will give your table a luxury feel, one for water, and two for wine. Choosing colored glassware that has texture will prevent your fall table from feeling too formal and Christmassy.'
Finally, gold colored cutlery is a beautiful way to ensure that every experience of a fall table feels considered.
8. Add a personalized place name
Go personal with your place names and get artistic, with a self-drawn place name that you can whip up in mere moments. Also think about how you display the place name. Alice Herbert from Lay London has beautifully attached the name to the stem of a pumpkin for a cute table addition
9. Don't forget the finishing touches
The finer details are the accessories you can get away with not having, but make your scheme all the more welcoming and beautiful. Napkins are a last-minute addition that can really elevate your table to the next level, bring that personal feel and are another place to have fun with your decor.
'Napkins are an important tactile guest experience, think beyond the traditional white and choose something more warm-toned with a detailed edge,' advises Rachel Usher.
'Pretty velvet color ribbons are always a lovely touch to tie around your napkins,' says Milly. 'I like to use the same color scheme to the linens, a jewel tone color would look pretty!'
If you're not adept at folding your napkin into an elaborate origami swan, simply roll them up and keep them in place with a beautiful brass napkin ring. Another great way to add elegant texture and jewel-tones is with napkin ties. 'A napkin ‘bow tie’ in wide velvet ribbon will make each setting look luxurious and elegant, adding to the sense of occasion,' adds Alice from LAY.
Additionally, you might not be outside, but Alice from LAY likes to lay a soft blanket on the back of each chair to give that cozy feel to the room.
10. More is more
Finally, don't be afraid of going full-on with your tablescape and covering every available surface and inch of the table in cut flowers, candles, pumpkins, velvet bows. Fall really is the time of year for a celebration of produce and nature, and a time when we gather together to eat the fruits of the harvest and celebrate the bounty of summer. Reflect this in your tablescape - fall is not a time for minimalism.
How do you make a centerpiece for a fall table?
So your table is laid with flowers, the bounty of the season, beautiful textures and in a range of warming and fall-like colors, but what about your centerpiece? This is a chance for you to tie the tablescape together with a spectacular focal point in the center.
For the ultimate table centerpiece, height really matters, so make your centerpiece the tallest display on the table, whether that's a candlestick with a holder wrapped in a string of red leaves, a floral display or a giant pumpkin aglow with tealights. Emphasize your centerpiece further with elements from the outdoors like twigs, branches, ivy, pinecones and set them around the centerpiece, with a circle of lit tealights lighting your creation beautifully.
Rachel Usher advises using a jug or large earthenware vase. 'Fill it with a large-scale organic branch arrangement or seasonal blooms. Avoid using anything too structured - the rawness and tumbling essence of the season is the spirit of your creativity,' says Rachel.
Oonagh is a content editor at Livingetc.com. Previously, she worked on a London property title, producing long-read interiors features, style pages and conducting interviews with a range of famous faces from the UK interiors scene, from Kit Kemp to Robert Kime. In doing so, she has developed a keen interest in London's historical architecture and the city's distinct tastemakers paving the way in the world of interiors.