The trend for ‘tablescaping’ has gone al fresco, with the desire to create beautiful place settings and dining displays finding its way into our social – or socially-distanced – occasions this summer. A carefully curated table or picnic-scape is not just a way to express personal style and creativity, it’s also a chance to make gatherings with loved ones extra special, whether that’s a picnic, a birthday barbecue or a lazy brunch in the garden. Denby’s design manager, Gary Hawley, shares his tips and ideas to help elevate outdoor dining settings and create an Insta-worthy al fresco tablescape:

1.Start With The Table

Think about where and what you’re hosting on. Wooden furniture can enhance a natural theme for al fresco dining, but for something more polished add a tablecloth. For those forgoing a table altogether, a picnic blanket will form the basis of your dining area, so invest in good quality linens that are made to last. Don’t feel like you have to stick to neutral tones though, with bold patterns offering an extra point of interest.

2. Be Eclectic

Not every product has to match, in fact mix and match ceramics are a simple way to show off your curated tableware collection. Play with colours and patterns by incorporating focal pieces such as accent plates or a statement platter, or try adding Denby bowls in a range of shapes and sizes as they’re both versatile and easy on the eye. Great for informal dining, they can be used to serve up a variety of cuisines to friends and family or hold a candle and plants for added decoration. Finally, why not suggest each guest brings their own plate for an extra-eclectic al fresco tablescape aesthetic (and less washing up!).

3. Play With Texture

Playing with different finishes and textures adds additional dimensions to a tablescape. Look for stoneware – such as Denby’s Studio Blue – that features speckled glazes and raw textures for a natural aesthetic or opt for the Modus collection for a touch of luxe. It’s not just the plates though, consider the cutlery, glassware and even napkins. Experiment with fabrics such as cheesecloth or linen or try cutlery with a metallic finish which will stand out on the table.

4. Don’t Forget The Finishing Touches

Candles and flowers are a simple yet beautiful way to decorate a table, for a twist on this tableware tradition, use dried flowers or display in a jug rather than a vase. For a picnic, display food in their punnets and paper bags to create a rustic outdoor theme. Alternatively, add vibrant cushions and blankets which are both beautiful and offer somewhere comfy to sit.

5. Tear Up The Rule Book

Gone is the day that a table should be set with a traditional layout. Picnics, barbecues and garden brunches all offer different opportunities to experiment with settings, with picnics not requiring a table at all. Get creative and play with different ceramics, fabrics and accessories to create Instagrammable tablescapes. Plus, if you’re struggling for inspiration, you can look to social media or swap ideas with guests.

For more tips on summer entertaining and for further information on Denby’s handcrafted ceramics, visit and follow @DenbyPottery on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

If al fresco dining is on the cards this weekend, be sure to check out nutritionist Georgine Leung from awesome new brand Kurami’s top tips for keeping it delicious and nutritious.