Dive into summer entertaining with a new look. The best beach-inspired tableware has style that belies its function. To set the tone, choose pieces in soothing hues or vibrant colors. Either way, you're sure to create a gathering to remember.
Go natural . Solid linens in neutral shades allow cheery dinnerware to shine. Keep floral arrangements loose, and place citrus fruit in wide-mouth vases to secure bright, seasonal flowers. Use shells and sea glass as place markers or centerpieces. Place beach stones on tablecloths to prevent flapping in coastal breezes.
• Juicy tumblers in orange and tomato ($20), Encircle cushions in orange ($40), Curve flatware for four ($120), 18 Karat; eighteenkarat.com. Cucina Fresca dinner plate in saffron ($33), Prism iced-tea glasses in single dot ($25), Pallini salad plates ($23), Vietri; vietri.com.
Suggest romance. Delicate linens and slipcovers, sparkling silver, and well-chosen accessories lend sophistication to a portable table and chairs. Reflect the colors of sea, sand, and sky when choosing dishes and other tabletop items. Pale greens and blues mingle well with sandy browns. Let simple, white flowers in blown-glass vases give the table subtle elegance. Hurricane lanterns and garden torches with glass inserts sustain flickering flames despite breezes.
• Director's chairs ($86), Telescope Casual; 518/642-1100 or telescopecasual.com. Slipcovers ($59), Custom Coverings; 508/675-7728 or customcoverings.com. Hurricanes ($10 to $20) and garden torches ($8), Pier 1 Imports; 800/245-4595 or pier1.com. Plates ($90 to $163 each), Daniel Levy Ceramics; 212/268-0878. Stemware ($60 to $72) and Daniela flatware for five ($175), Match; 201/792-9444 or match1995.com for retailers. Cake stand ($56), Rosanna Retail; 206/985-2065. Blown-glass spheres ($9 to $24), Worldy Good from The Overstock Market; 704/376-2002.
Set the mood. The table setting's watery aqua, pale blue, and foamy white hues complete a beach theme. The cool colors combine with soft silvers to soothe guests under sun or stars.
• Fandango aqua napkin ($4), Linden azure tablecloth, ($33), Crate & Barrel; crateandbarrel.com. Elora chair cushions ($25), Pier 1 Imports; pier1.com. Abstract dinner plates ($24) and individual bowls ($29) in bianco, Mariposa; mariposa-gift.com. Medieval flatware in white for five ($59), Fantasia salad plates in light blue ($25), Vietri; vietri.com.
Follow the palette of the shore ―sun, sea, and sky―and create a vibrant table setting to entertain guests by the beach. Mix textures for each place setting. Use acrylic, glass, wood, and metal to create a variety of patterns and reflections. This visual and tactile playfulness brings a carefree ease to the table.
• Table and chairs, Lantana Farm and Co.; 850/892-9147. Plates and pitcher, Casafina; 845/277-5700. Stemware, Artland Trading; artlandinc.com. Flatware, Oneida; 800/877-6667 or oneida.com.
Brighten up. For an alternative to the soothing sea palette, liven the paty with splashes of color. Vivid red, flame orange, and spirited pink glow against the cool-toned backdrop of sand and sea.
• Celia hall table ($950) from Maine Cottage; mainecottage.com. Cherry fruits bowl ($80) from Crate and Barrel; crateandbarrel.com. Juicy pitcher in tomato ($72), tumbler in orange and tomato ($20), and juicy bowls in orange and tomato ($30) from 18 Karat; eighteenkarat.com.