Tablescapes: Budget Table Settings that Look Expensive

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Can You Set a Beautiful Table on a Budget?

If you’re a home decorating fan like me, you no doubt love looking at home and decorating magazines to get new ideas and inspiration.  Browsing through all the gorgeous photos is great, especially looking for beautiful table settings and tablescapes

However, you may think that you can’t create the same kinds of looks in your house because you don’t have an enormous decorating budget like the magazines.   Decorating can be luxurious on any budget, as long as you know the right tips and strategies.  Today, we’re going to teach you how to create beautiful tablescapes and table settings on a budget.

Start with Inexpensive Supplies that Look Expensive

The key to pulling off fabulous tablescapes without a lot of money is to use inexpensive supplies that look expensive.  What looks rich?  Pull out your favorite decorating magazine, such as Martha Stewart Living or Better Homes and Gardens, and cut out several photos of tablescapes that you like.  What do you notice about the table setting?  Do they use china, or antique tea cups, or gold-rimmed plates?  The elements you are drawn to will be the things you want to keep an eye out for when shopping for your “rich looking” supplies.

There are many ways to find your luxurious looking tablescape items on a dime.  Here are some frugal methods you can use:

1.  Plan ahead and buy on clearance.  A good storage and labeling system and a closet to store tablescaping supplies in will save you huge amounts of money.  Make purchases of holiday and seasonal table setting items once they go on clearance.  Pack carefully into storage containers and label so that you’ll be able to find them when you need them for the next year.

2.  Shop at discount retailers instead of home decorating stores.  Don’t get me wrong, I love IKEA as much as the next homemaker, but in reality it’s much cheaper to get great home decor elsewhere.  Try craft stores, such as Michaels and Jo-Ann Fabrics, and mass retailers such as Target and Walmart.  Their great selections of home decor items and table setting materials are much more affordable and will allow you to get a wide variety on a small budget.

3.  Buy dishes in pieces instead of boxed sets.  As a mom, I’m into tablescapes which use unbreakable Corelle dishes, because it means they’ll last longer around my children!  A great benefit of shopping at Walmart is that they offer dishes (including Corelle) in both boxed sets and individual dishes.

So if you only want to buy enough dishes for 2 place settings for a romantic date night tablescape, or just to try something different, you can purchase just the plates, bowls, etc. that you need.  This can amount to huge savings over buying an entire set, especially when you may not want certain pieces.

4.  Buy dishes, centerpieces and table linens at thrift stores or garage sales.  Always be on the lookout for great pieces you can incorporate into your tablescapes at garage sales, flea markets, and thrift stores. 

You’ll frequently be able to pick up whole or partial dish sets at rock bottom prices, including wedding china received as gifts that the couple never used.  You can often find ceramics, knick knacks, vases and more at thrift stores and garage sales that will work into a perfect centerpiece for your table setting.

5.  Opt for dark table linens, prints, and vinyl table cloths to minimize staining.  Stains can ruin the investment in nice linens, so opt for darker colors when possible or small prints which can camouflage any food or drink spots.  There are also nice looking vinyl tablecloths available now with flocked cloth backings.  They’re durable and wipe clean while still looking nice (perfect if you have children prone to spills).

6.  Use flowers from your garden as centerpieces instead of buying bouquets.  Fresh cut flowers from your garden are a free alternative to buying bouquets of cut flowers from a florist or floral department.  If you don’t have a flower garden, send your children out to pick some choke cherry sprays from the yard, dandelions, or other wild flowers that you can dress up.

7.  Invest in silk flowers for centerpieces that can be used over and over.  Some silk flowers are incredibly lifelike but will not wilt or die like their living counterparts.  Invest in flowers of different sizes, colors and varieties that you’ll be able to mix and match to get the most for your money.  Remember that silk flowers should be stored in covered containers when not in use, and can usually be washed in the dishwasher to freshen up and remove dust.

8.  Shop on eBay for used or deeply-discounted new tablescape supplies. eBay is a frugal decorator’s heaven for finding the luxurious bits and pieces you need to set your table at bargain prices. 

In the next part of Tablescapes: Budget Table Settings that Look Expensive, you’ll learn how to put together all the cheap supplies that you bought to form table settings pretty enough to be in a magazine. 

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Table setting tablescape photo by tracyhunter.

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