By Natalia Hook
In your dining room, the table is one of the most obvious and important places for décor. Beautiful dining room centerpieces, of course, are the go-to solution. With the right one, you can pull together the look of not only the table but the whole room. Ranging from simple to ornate, dining table centerpieces provide the perfect finishing touch.
Whether you’re looking for dining room centerpiece ideas for everyday use or planning formal dining room centerpieces, the style of your dining room and table settings should serve as a guide. You don’t want to put an enormous centerpiece on a small table or lose an intricate centerpiece in a sea of busy table linens. Don’t just ask yourself what to put on the dining room table, ask yourself what the table needs as a focal point. Looking for a little help getting started? These five quick and easy centerpiece ideas have you covered!
Flowers are the most common centerpiece for a reason. Whatever color, height, or style you have in mind, some flowers will fit the bill. Not only that, you can get long-term use from artificial flowers or a live plant. Dried flowers tend to be less colorful, but also have a long table life. Fresh flowers, of course, not only look good, but smell good, and can give your table décor frequent updates.
You can buy premade floral centerpieces at a florist or craft store, or put together easy DIY centerpieces on your own. Fresh flowers can come from a florist, your own garden, or in my case, the grocery store. Artificial flowers are available from craft and home furnishing stores to big box and dollar stores. Live plants from succulents to orchids are available at Lowe’s, Home Depot, and any nursery.
No matter your supplier, remember to keep table size and place settings in mind. Your dining table can handle a larger centerpiece if it isn’t often used for sitdown meals. My simple rule of thumb: If you have to move a centerpiece off the table to set it for eating, it’s too big for a daily meal table.
When assembling your own floral centerpiece, select flowers that complement existing décor. Charming country dining room arrangement ideas may sport flowers such as daisies, hydrangeas, sunflowers, and lilacs. More contemporary dining room centerpieces can be achieved with lilies, orchids, and single stem arrangements using only one type of flower. If you need ideas, Pinterest is a great place to get started.
When selecting your container, don’t forget that fresh flowers need water, while dried and artificial can be presented in a basket, as well as a vase or jar. For transparent glass, fill in around stems with pebbles, floral stone, or floral glass beads. It’s a good idea to keep several different types on hand, available at any craft store for just a few dollars.
Make sure that your container will show well with the flowers, as far as style, shape, and size. A series of small jars or vases is also an option. If you’ve never put together flowers for display, start with a small bouquet and work up from there. The general principles can be applied to larger arrangements, too.
Vase or Jar
If flowers aren’t up your alley, that doesn’t mean you should discount vases and jars. There are other natural elements you can showcase. Corkscrew willow branches, ornamental grasses, and feathers are a few popular options. Citrus fruit centerpieces are bright and colorful, and versatile enough to be successful in a modern vase or a rustic mason jar.
An idea specifically for transparent vases and jars is layering. Sand, pebbles, glass beads, and dried botanicals can all be added to any clear jar or vase one component at a time. Use a single large container or several smaller ones in a grouping. If the uniformity of the layered look doesn’t work with your dining table décor, try elements such as glass ornaments, garland, and nuts in the shell for an elegant glass vase centerpiece. Or, nestle small eggs, berry sprigs, or pine cones into a cushion of dried moss for a provincial look. Unfinished wooden eggs are about two dollars a dozen at most craft stores.
The simplest jar or vase centerpiece is an empty one. Not every vase can pull this off, and you have to be attentive to other table setting details. A large, ornate ceramic or porcelain vase may be bold enough to stand on its own. If you select a grouping of smaller, simpler pieces, as seen here, they will need some support. In this case, the bamboo mat and the addition of table linens create a full enough table to balance the simplicity of the centerpiece. The addition of the other amber glassware brings the tablescape together.
Bowl or Basket
There are a limitless number of bowl fillers that can transform a bowl or basket into a centerpiece—pine cones, river rocks, floating candles. One tried and true option is fresh fruit. Now, this doesn’t mean you should throw whatever needs ripening into a bowl and call it a centerpiece. Base your selections on color and texture to create an attractive tableau.
I try to keep a couple pieces of hand fruit in the mix for snacking and have replacements waiting in the crisper. If you’d rather not be bothered, go with artificial fruit. I generally think of the fruit bowl as an everyday table centerpiece. It’s easy to put together and can be replaced with something fancier in a snap. It also looks great on a kitchen table.
If fruit isn’t your thing, try seasonal décor. A few pine trimmings with glass globes and bright berries salutes the winter holidays, while gourds and pine cones with autumn leafs welcome in the fall. As for spring, a bird’s nest and some craft moss go a long way, and nothing says summer like shells and a sea star in a glass fish bowl. If you want something simple for all seasons, try a wide bowl of smooth pebbles with a candle or two.
Wine bottles are the working centerpiece. You’re already going to be serving the wine, so why not get the most for your money by showcasing the bottles in the middle of your table? And no, you don’t have to open every bottle. Offer selections as the centerpiece, and let guests choose a bottle or two for the meal. The more guests you have, the bigger your table and your centerpiece need to be. See how that all works out?
Obviously, this table is set for a dinner that pairs well with reds. If you want to serve white wine and work it into your centerpiece, you’ll have to incorporate ice buckets or marble wine coolers for a lower profile. A fun addition to the centerpiece is a Bottlelight brand cork, which turns an empty bottle into a lamp. They work best with transparent or very pale green glass.
Candles are classic when it comes to dining room table décor. There are literally hundreds of candle centerpiece options, in every style and color, to fit every budget. From casual ceramic candle trays to traditional candelabras, hurricanes to floating tea lights and pillar groupings, everyone can make candles work on their dining room table.
If anything, we might need to rein ourselves in a bit sometimes. Remember as you plan your centerpiece that this isn’t a wedding venue, it’s your home. The temptation to go big should be tempered by the actual size of your dining table, and the settings that are going to accompany what you choose. Now, if you’re hosting a gala at an enormous table, go to town with a hundred flames in crystal glory. If not, smaller chic or casual charm may be a better direction.
A sure-fire winner is a grouping of white candles of different heights and widths on a tray or each in its own simple glass. Dress it up or down with a runner, burlap mats, and raffia, or floral elements and greenery. Bigger table? Repeat the centerpiece once or twice more. Candle planks with votive candles also provide a versatile look. Or try a lantern with your choice of candles for a pastoral centerpiece. An old-fashioned cutting board or natural tree slice is the perfect base on which to go rustic.
Floating candles can create a magical effect, but are easily overdone. Adding rose petals and pearls can push you into tacky territory, so keep it simple to retain elegance. And at the end of the night, is there really anything more elegant than simple tapers on a well-laid table? Sometimes, less really is more.
As you experiment with dining room centerpieces, don’t be afraid to mix and match. Pair candles with flowers, put votive candles in mason jars, or surround your wine bottles with fruit. Once you get table linens and other accouterments into the mix, you’ll be well on your way. So, light those candles and roll out the runner. Your dream table is just a centerpiece away!
Images used with permission, courtesy of Natalia Hook and www.dreamstime.com