How To Outfit Your Dining Area in Sustainable Textiles That Bring Function *and* Style to the Table

Photo: Stocksy/Sweenshots & Shaymone & W+G
It's easy to search “tablescapes” on your social media platform of choice and imagine all the beautiful, creative things you could do to make your dining space look *perfect* the next time you host. But then you remember that you're a human—not a Pinterest post—and creating something that looks effortless... can take a lot of effort. Not to mention, hosting can mean winding up with a lot of unintended waste.

First and foremost: Having a dining setup that functions and a mindset that considers your impact on the planet are both beautiful in and of themselves. Second of all, there's something magical about creating a space that feels uniquely you, rather than magazine-perfect.

And there’s no one more qualified to tell you about hosting mindful, quirky, gorgeous gatherings than Heather Taylor, the founder and creative director of Heather Taylor Home. "There’s beauty in imperfection," she says. "If you do not have a perfect set of something, it is not the end of the world. Have fun with mixing and matching the items you have in a thoughtful way."

Taylor doesn’t just make home decor for the aesthetic benefit—she also understands the importance of sustainability, which is why she uses naturally biodegradable cotton in her textile collections. As a natural fiber, it doesn't release microplastics into our waterways upon washing—and as a dining-table textile, its durability holds up to wash after inevitable wash, making swapping paper napkins and plastic tablecloths the ultimate earth-friendly, smart, and stylish move. Read on to start setting your table.

Find your “non-negotiable” textiles

Taylor counts two textiles as non-negotiable for entertaining: tablecloths and napkins. “I like to think of the scene I am trying to set,” Taylor says. “Once you add a tablecloth to any table, the space instantly fills with pattern or color….Next would be napkins. Even if you are hosting a buffet-style dinner and not setting a formal table, having enough patterned napkins for each of your guests adds an important element of thoughtfulness."

When shopping for textiles, remember to check the label for cotton, which Taylor recommends for its wash-after-wash staying power (bonus: it gets softer with time, too).

Decorate around your fave item on the table

It can be hard to find a starting point when you think of how to set your table. Are these too much together? Do these colors clash with each other? Will this centerpiece actually add to the table or take away from everything underneath it?

First, take a deep breath. Next, Taylor suggests picking one item you love—whether it be adorable cotton placemats or a bouquet of wildflowers—and working the rest of the table around it. “For example, you could focus on a color that is featured in your favorite set of dishes to match back to,” Taylor says. “Having a common thread will make the table feel thoughtful and pulled together.”

Don’t be afraid to mix and match

Taylor wants to do away with the idea that your textiles should all be uniform and your centerpieces flawless—because where’s the fun in that?  There's where her "beauty in imperfection" philosophy comes in. "If you do not have fresh flowers, even cuttings from the yard or fruit can add a beautiful touch," she says.

Consider mixing and matching your materials a place to inject a pop of personality—whether you're curating a variety of funky thrift-store finds or grabbing some of Heather Taylor Home's signature gingham pieces. With cotton on the table, you can easily take care of all your favorite dining pieces for years—of dare we say it—effortless use in the future. The best part? Your space will look utterly you.


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