Check out these quick, easy and dollar-friendly ways to take your dining space from empty to dinner-party ready.
1. Folding furniture
Check out larger hardware stores or discount variety stores. A rectangular trestle table or two smaller square tables and four to six folding chairs will do the trick. These for-now basics will set you back around $100. They can also double up as outdoor furniture now or later when you can afford to buy the real deal when it comes to dining furniture.
2. Cover it up
Okay, let’s address the proverbial elephant in the room. By now you’re thinking this isn’t going to look so pretty. This is when a cloth tablecloth comes in handy as it will act as a smart disguise for your make-do-for-now table. For a neat restaurant look, make sure there’s an overhang on all sides, a minimum of 20-40cm.
You can pick up inexpensive rectangular tablecloths for as little as $9 to $12 each. A white tablecloth is always going to look smart and sharp. Or, you can opt for a stylish black tablecloth or go for a linen-look material in charcoal or beige. If you’ve bought two square folding tables you’ll need two tablecloths, one rectangular and one square. Lay the rectangular cloth first and then angle the square cloth in the centre.
You can’t go wrong with white crockery. It’s a classic look that will never date. It can go from every day to special occasion use seamlessly. And, expensive or not, food is shown off at its delicious best on white crockery, tempting everyone’s tastebuds. Discount chain and homeware stores stock single pieces or sets of dinnerware in abundance. Check out this basic white 24-piece dinner set.
Unless you’ve inherited a set of silverware from your mum or nan, go op shopping for your cutlery. Available in abundance, spend a little time sorting through them and pounce on any of the good stuff. Even if the silver is tarnished, it should polish up a treat. Unless you’re prepared to fork out more for an entire set, you’re best buying same-design cutlery for each place setting.
Stemware is a must for a stylish table setting. Choose basic wine glasses, a 6-set each for red wine, white wine and champagne flutes to begin then build your collection from there. Also on your shopping list, tumblers or hi-ball glasses for chilled water and juices. Although not entirely necessary, try to buy all your sets from the same range for cohesion. Kitchenware, home and discount chains have several affordable options. If you prefer to go op shopping for your glassware, sets may be hard to find or they may be expensive. Just take a mix and match approach, buy in pairs, and as long as you go for clear glass, feel free to mix crystal with plain stemware.
6. Place cards
Guide guests to their chairs with place cards, each clipped to a curtain ring that doubles as a smart napkin ring in this case.
Candles will enhance the mood of any dinner party. Stock up on tea lights (bulk buy and save), pop one each into a footed votive (or more) for a touch of elegance, dim the lights and let the good times roll.
Nothing perks up a room – or a table – as fresh flowers. Don’t worry, you don’t need an elaborate or pricey centrepiece. Just as effective is a bunch of same-type flowers from the supermarket, singled or paired out, and arranged in clear glass soft-drink or juice bottles (preferably without labels but not strictly necessary especially if the labels have arty appeal).
No matter how much you yearn for coastal-look white shutters, your wallet just won’t stretch that far. The look-alike solution to your dilemma is timber-look white Venetian blinds in the widest slat available. Local hardware and homeware chain stores have a great selection. When you’re more cash positive, hardware stores even have affordable pre-fab shutters in a variety of sizes you can pre-order.
10. Wine bar
A modular wine rack (which you can add to) can do the honours for now. Don’t just plant it in a corner of the room. Make it part of an ensemble display. A gorgeous platter or plate shown off on a stand, an ice cooler – a galvanised bucket will do – and a smart rectangular or square black frame on the wall. As for the picture in the frame, swipe through your photos, select a suitable shot (anything from food, still life, scenery, travel or nature) and make a black and white print of it.
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