A Book Club Brunch: 4 Tips for Setting a Stylish Table on a Budget
This week we’re sharing the second party in our Gatherings from The Kitchn series, an elegant, make-ahead spring brunch I hosted for my book club. I often admire the intricately-styled table settings on design and wedding blogs, but they rarely seem realistic for my budget or styling capabilities. My goal for this party was to create a table that was inspirational, not just aspirational; in other words, a table that could move from Pinterest to reality without requiring a degree in design or hundreds of dollars. Here are four concrete tips for putting together a special, stylish table on a small budget.
Budget Tip 1: Recruit a talented friendI can set a nice table and I have a decent collection of fun decorative details, but I didn’t think twice about recruiting help from my friend
Budget Tip 2: Start with what you haveInstead of struggling to make our tableware and decorations fit with the design scheme, we worked backwards, shaping our ideas around what we already owned. Planning out the table, I knew I wanted to use hardcover books in the centerpiece and take advantage of my small collection of pretty, mismatched thrift store plates. Since most of the plates are blue, that set the general color scheme. Beth brought over a deep blue tablecloth and we pulled all the blue and neutral-color hardcover books from our shelves to create the centerpiece.
My best (read: only) cake stand, a cut-glass plate that once belonged to my grandmother, inspired the repurpose of some cut-glass punch bowl cups into coffee mugs. And when a few old postcards fell out of one of the hardcover books as we were setting up, we added those to the table too.
Budget Tip 3: Borrow instead of buyLast week I wrote about the
Budget Tip 4: Think blooms and branches, not bouquetsSpeaking of bud vases, we saved a lot on flower costs by decorating with a few huge chrysanthemum flowers and a rose clipped from my front yard instead of one big bouquet. Big single blooms like dahlias and peonies bring a little bit of spring to the table without costing a lot. Branches or bouquet filler are also inexpensive and generally last awhile; we used a vase full of dry eucalyptus branches I had on a table in my living room, which added height and a little more texture to the table.
In the end, I only ended up spending about $25 — the cost of six fabric napkins from Target and a handful of chrysanthemum blooms from a flower shop — for a special, thoughtfully-styled table that you’d think required a lot of careful shopping and expensive vendors. It didn’t. All it took was a couple generous friends, a little planning, and the creativity and commitment to making the most of what I already owned.
Do you have any tips for setting a stylish table on a budget? Any favorite blogs or magazines with decorating ideas that are inspiring and realistic?