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4 Ways to Set an Eclectic Table

Eclectic styling does not mean chaos or lack of intention but, instead, is about creating an interesting, sometimes surprising, cohesive look

Setting a beautiful table is an incredibly rewarding experience, whether you are hosting a lavish dinner party or a simple family meal. While we all likely know how to set a table, setting an interesting table is a different task! Why not mix it up and set an eclectic table for your next gathering?

Make your table setting a creative expression by moving beyond matching dishes to creating a unique tablescape infused with meaning and unexpected elements. With a few general guidelines, setting an eclectic table is both accessible and enjoyable. Set a fabulous table by drawing inspiration from various colors, unexpected textures, and cultural traditions, all while adding your own personal touch.

Blue and White Table Decorations for a Unique Table Setting


1. Establish a Colorway for Your Eclectic Table

Eclectic styling does not mean chaos or lack of intention but, instead, is about creating an interesting, sometimes surprising, cohesive look. The first way to do this is by establishing a colorway as a foundation for your tablescape. A blue-and-white table setting, for example, grounds your entire table in a fresh, classic color scheme. Blue-and-white elements can be found everywhere from recent modern home decor to vintage dishware, so there are many choices even after choosing specific colors. Draw inspiration from art and culture with your soon-to-be new favorite dishes from The Met Store, such as Japanese chrysanthemums plates, Japanese blossoms plates, and Japanese lion-dog plates. From beautifully painted florals to Japanese dragons to intricate textures, your dishes will anchor your table in a lovely color scheme.

2. Mix Unexpected Textures and Traditions

One way to add dimension and interest to your table is by adding texture through textiles and various metals. Be open to unexpected combinations, as you draw from various traditions with your table setting. From adding an embroidered tablecloth to curating a centerpiece that includes tall taper candles in glistening brass candlesticks, you’ll find that these added textures bring exciting dimensions that immediately elevates the setting. As you layer your classic ceramic dishes and cloth napkins with unique accents, you’ll begin to see your eclectic table come together. You can layer geometric elements with interesting plate-and-bowl sets or glassware — and even work in that plate set that you love but haven’t reached for enough in your daily use.

cloth napkin with van gough iris design


3. Add Elements from Nature

Elements from nature are a welcomed addition to your stylish eclectic table setting. From dramatic fresh-cut greenery in an interesting vase to gorgeous, artistic dinner plates with painted flowers on them, nature never disappoints. Consider adding more flourish by pairing form with function. For example, this handsome betel leaf trivet is crafted in burnished tones of gold over copper and brings an organic, earthy air to the table — all the while protecting it from heat. Did you know that the heart-shaped betel leaf is a member of the pepper family? With a carefully set table, you’ll not only have a stylish display, but also built-in conversation starters. 

unique trivet to protect table as hot pad


4. Infuse Meaning into Your Unique Table Setting

As you find your eclectic table setting drawing toward completion, take a moment to add a personally meaningful detail. If you’re a bird watcher, add the warbler napkin rings, a set of four avian napkin rings crafted in appealing antique pewter tones. This quick nod to an important hobby to you is a great way to make sure that your table is not only attractive and functional, but also feels like your own creative expression. Or, if the feathery fern leaves that are such popular subjects in art, with examples that can be found throughout The Met collection, are your favorite, choose fern napkin rings to be the finishing touch. As you survey your table, you’ll love seeing those meaningful details tucked into the scene, and your guests will notice the personal touches, too.

fern napkin ring set


More than anything, bring your creative energy to your eclectic table setting! You’ll love the challenge of creating an interesting look. As you learn more about how to set a beautiful and interesting table, you’ll find yourself giving gorgeous ceramic dishes as wedding gifts or unique nature-inspired napkin rings as housewarming gifts. Most important, though, you’ll take a seat at the table and feel the intention, appreciate the beauty, and enjoy the fabulous atmosphere you’ve created!

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