How to Set a Table Using Something Old, New, Borrowed & Blue

July  1, 2015

An old bridal adage gets an update—and is applied to the art of setting a table.

"Something old, something new, something borrowed, and something blue" is supposed to bring good luck to she who heeds it on her wedding day.  Our art director Alexis, however, noticed that when applied to the art of setting a table, it's also a great checklist for making your tabletop one to remember.

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Something Old
In our own food photography, we always work some older props—vintage and antique pieces that are often a little weathered—into each shot, so the pictures and the recipes in them feel like those in a real home. "People accumulate things over time," Alexis points out, "and working some older pieces into your collection gives your home a sense of history and personal meaning. Maybe it's not your grandmother's plate, but it can remind you of her, or your family in general, or the place you found it, or the past." It's also an aesthetic choice: "The patina of something old gives a different layer of texture than new things," she says. 

Something New
"Designers are constantly coming up with new, beautiful ways to use materials and color and texture," Alexis says—and one look at the Food52 Shop proves how true this is. "We just got some new plates and bowls from Looks Like White that still have the texture of the canvas they're rolled out on; they're beautiful, and that's not a technique that would have been used in the past. It's also nice to see the sense of someone's hand in a piece, which lends a certain amount of warmth to your table."

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Something Borrowed 
Have you ever borrowed something (from your mom's cupboard? your roommate's closet?), and then had such a hard time giving it back? Borrowed pieces have a specific kind of undeniable intrigue; we really do always seem to want what we can't have. Practically speaking, adding borrowed pieces to your tabletop means you're eating with friends, which is the best kind of eating. "If you're hosting a dinner party, you might not have every single piece you need, so ask guests to bring one of their own," Alexis suggests. "That way everyone has a part in the table setting."

Something Blue 
"The color blue is pretty and classic—it's one step above a neutral." Think about denim, how blue jeans seem to go with anything, and you'll realize the softening way that a few blue pieces can work the same magic on your tabletop.

What pieces do you always rely on to set the table? Let us know in the comments!

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Amanda Sims

Written by: Amanda Sims

Professional trespasser.