How To: Master the Art of the Tablescape

Tablescapes are a great way to show off your most cherished items or collections. Be it art, books, family heirlooms, or vacation souvenirs - tablescapes are just a pleasing arrangement of objects. But lets be clear. Not just any haphazard arrangement thrown on a table counts as a tablescape...

According to the late David Hicks, the master of the tablescape, "It isn't a matter of just connecting miscellaneous objects on a table. Each object must be of first-rate quality in itself; otherwise it doesn't really work". Here are a few key factors to take into consideration when arranging a tablescape.

  • There is a finite amount of space on a tabletop, so editing your arrangement is essential.
  • Don't forget to consider the size and scale of your table surface when selecting items.
  • Odd numbers are more appealing to the eye than even numbers. When grouping things together, groupings of 3, 5, 7 or 9 tend to be more visually pleasing.
  • Focus on an item in the foreground and then arrange the other items behind it to give it depth. Just like an artist arranges a still life to paint, one should remember to use objects to create a foreground, middle-ground, and background.
  • It's also important to add height. A tall lamp, vase, candlestick, or branch easily gives dimension.
  • Larger items lend more of an impact than smaller items. That said, don't avoid the use a small objects, just be aware that you need to design with them in mind so they don't get lost or make your arrangement look cluttered. This can easily be achieved by grouping them together so they look like a collection or giving them a pedestal so they stand out.
  • Stacked books are a great way to elevate items or display smaller items to create a focal point.
  • When incorporating color, limit your color palette to just a few colors to keep things harmonious. You can also group dissimilar items together by color to create a more coordinated look.


Above all, keep in mind these are only tips to help guide you along the way. Hicks said it best, "What is important is not how valuable or inexpensive your objects are, but the care and feeling with which you arrange them.”


Tablescapes Designed By:

1,3 David Hicks

2 Barclay Fryery

4,5 India Hicks

6 Gary Spain

7 Sherry Sheridan

8 Windsor Smith

9 Jen West

10 Eric Cohler


(Images: 1, 4, 5: Domino, 2,3: via the The Peak of Chic, 6, 8, 9: So Haute, 7: Material Girls; 10: All the Best)