Summer Thornton Spills the Tea on Spring Tablescaping

Make it memorable with her tips for a festive, fuss-free affair.

April 4, 2023

Days are getting longer, temperatures are rising—it’s finally time for spring entertaining season to begin. Wondering how to take your tablescapes over the top this year? We’ve asked Chicago-based designer (and hostess extraordinaire) Summer Thornton to share her tips for setting a festive, floral-filled table that will have guests talking long after the party’s over.

1. Start with a bold backdrop.

For Thornton, nothing sets the scene like a printed tablecloth. For a bloom-filled spring dinner, she opts for one made from a vintage Schumacher chintz. White lace placemats up the granny-chic factor.

2. Matching is overrated.

When it comes to adding dinnerware or glassware, don’t stress about the colors not coordinating perfectly, says Thornton. In fact, going too matchy can make a table look overly fussy. More important is striking the right balance in your palette: For example, if you’re using bold linens and colorful plates, consider clear glass to keep things from getting too busy.

  • Don’t worry about matching colors precisely, says Thornton.

  • A porcelain bird is an unexpected touch.

3. Break out the good stuff.

Why let your grandmother’s silver or heirloom china sit in the butler’s pantry all year? Pull it out for a spur-of-the-moment weekend dinner party to make the evening feel extra special.

4. Don’t be afraid of deeper hues.

Setting a springtime table doesn’t have to mean sticking to a strict Easter-egg palette. Add in a few accents in a deeper, moodier hue—like Thornton’s aubergine rope candles—to create contrast.

5. Embrace an element of surprise.

Thornton’s number-one rule? “Add something weird to your table!” Her collection of porcelain birds provides the perfect (and unexpected) finishing touch to a bright mix of blooms.