Setting the perfect autumn tablescape with Gracie Cahill of Styled with Grace

Gracie Cahill has styled and directed shoots in Ireland, London, Paris and Los Angeles. Her latest venture, Styled with Grace, brings together her styling, creative direction and planning. Ahead of her appearance at the PTSB Ideal Home Show, she shares her tips to creating the perfect tablescape.

How you feel about changing seasons (and that inevitable nip in the air) probably depends on how much you appreciate autumn. Autumn brings beautiful foliage imbued with colour and detail, creating so many inspiring ideas for decorating your table and putting your own stamp on it. Whether I’m hosting a work event or intimate dinner at home, I love to focus on the kind of décor and produce that reflects the vibrancy and richness of the season.

A wonderful styling hack for autumn hosting is bringing the outside into your kitchen, dining or living space. Branches, flowers and fruit picked from the garden add lots of colour, texture and interest particularly for garnishing napkins or adding to placecards with guest names. Scatter them on the table for decoration or even add them to a garland centrepiece, depending on the theme.

The devil is in these little details but how do you decide on a colour scheme or theme? The season dictates a lot for me and so I’m always drawn to rich warm tones like amber, forest green and shades of maroon and burgundy this time of year. A practical way of decorating a cohesive table is to build from the bottom up, starting with linen. From there I’ll choose tableware and cutlery based on tones and prints on the table and I often add colour and texture in the glassware and centrepiece candles and ceramics.

Table-setting has traditionally followed a formulaic style where a similar colour and print blend harmoniously but this season the emphasis is on a less curated look where lots of different colours, prints and shapes come together. There is also a growing focus on sustainability, centred around old and new: investing in new items that spark joy but also reusing what you already own.

Old, new or borrowed, here are some tips for making your autumn table stand out whether you’re hosting a big celebration or an intimate celebratory dinner:

  • Visual symmetry is important but there’s magic in the unpredictable elements, too. Don’t be afraid to contrast prints and colours, layer different textures, incorporate unexpected details that guests remember. The little touches go a long way.
  • Part of hosting is capturing the scene. It’s a lot more personal than going out for dinner or going to party and you can customise it however you want. I love recycling old velvet for table embellishments, styling up fresh flowers picked from the garden and putting my own stamp on a table with handwritten placecards. Decorative candles are also great way of adding ambience. For me, it’s not just about how a space looks but also how it smells and feels.
  • Height is also an element to consider because it creates the depth and a visually interactive tablescape. I love contrasting tall candlesticks with shorter scented candle jars and usually mix and match tall centrepiece floral arrangements with smaller, dinky bud vases.
  • Always consider the space and light you’re working with. Less is more in some settings where there’s lots of print and colour worked into interiors. A more minimalist backdrop on the contrary can hold lots of colour, shapes and detail. The little flourishes will make a table stand out for all the right reasons.

Catch Gracie in her panel discussion with host Jo Linehan at The DFS Interiors Theatre on Friday 20th of October at the PTSB Ideal Home Show.

The PTSB Ideal Home Show takes place from 20th to 22nd October, RDS Dublin.

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