How to Set the Table

Create a table setting to impress your guests thanks to the wide selection of dinnerware at Pottery Barn. Prior to setting a table, it’s important to consider what type of atmosphere you’re trying to create for your guests. If you’re aiming for a super casual vibe, stick to the basics and use only a few necessary dishes and utensils. However, if you’re planning a very formal gathering, you’ll need multiple utensils, glasses and plates for each course. Once you determine the menu and the atmosphere you want, you can easily create the perfect table setting by browsing our selection of dinnerware and coordinating accessories.


A Basic Setting

For a casual gathering, we recommend positioning the dinner plate at the center of each place setting. The napkin can be positioned neatly on top of the dish or to the right, under the silverware. You can then place a single dinner fork to the left of the plate, with the knife and spoon to the right of the dish. As a general rule of thumb, the flatware should be positioned in the order in which it will be used. Complete the setting by placing a water glass to the top right of the dish.


A Formal Setting

To create an impressive table for a formal dinner, begin by selecting a set of chargers to set the tone of the space. We have a wide selection of luxurious chargers that are sure to make a statement. Consider a pewter or nickel style for a holiday meal. Once you place the charger at the center of the placemat, you can then place the dinner plate on top with a folded napkin. A salad or soup bowl can then be added on top of the napkin if you desire. In this situation, multiple forks and spoons should be provided so guests have a different utensil for every course. As always, place the utensils in the order in which they will be used, with forks to the left of the plate and knives and spoons to the right.


Dinnerware Sets

The most essential part of any table is the dinnerware. Whether you’re shopping for everyday dishes or formal china, we have the set for you. To simplify the selection process for yourself, consider choosing one of our complete dining sets to ensure you have all of the necessary pieces. Once you know how many people you plan to feed, choosing the right number of settings is easy.


If you plan to change your decor over the years, consider selecting an all-white set of dishes. White dishes are an extremely neutral choice and tend to match any theme. For storage, we recommend washing and drying your dishes completely before neatly stacking them in a china cabinet or kitchen cabinet. Be sure to place a napkin or piece of fabric between each dish to prevent scratches.


Table Linens

Changing your table linens is an easy way to give the room a quick makeover. Try selecting several tablecloths so you can switch them out from season to season and also have extras on hand if something spills. A simple linen tablecloth in tan, white, or ivory is an easy way to set the tone of the table. You can complement a solid runner or placemats with pure white dishes for a clean, breathtaking display. If you’re planning a Thanksgiving or Christmas feast, try choosing a holiday-inspired tablecloth or napkins to match the theme of the day. To store your extra tablecloths or runners between use and prevent wrinkles, we recommend hanging them on a padded hanger in a closet or storing flat in a drawer.


Complete Your Table

No table setting is complete without an eye-catching centerpiece. To impress your guests, consider adding a lit candle to the center of the table or bright floral arrangement. Be sure to keep the season in mind and choose a centerpiece that complements the time of year. Candles can be added to any decor and are an easy way to create a cozy atmosphere. Set your table like a pro with our wide selection of dinnerware and dining accessories.