Al Fresco Table Styling Tips by Leila Godfrey

Hello – I’m Leila and the stylist behind byleilagodfrey. I work full time managing events for a fashion brand, but spend my evenings and weekends styling tables.

I found myself asking what it was I loved about table styling, and I think it’s the creativity behind balancing colour and texture to create a table that makes people say ‘WOW’. I also love hosting, and feel like creating a gorgeous table makes for a memorable evening. I am longing for a cupboard big enough so I can hoard more bits, but for now I keep a small collection that can be brought to life with different coloured linens and tableware.

I have loved working with Rebecca and creating a ‘summer at home’ tablescape. I’m sharing some tips with you all below, I hope you are inspired to create your own summer table in your garden!

My Styling Tips

The perfect al fresco setting...

What better way to create a special moment than in your own garden this summer! My partner and I made it our mission to clear the garden so we could host friends in the comfort of our own home.

Clearing the garden can be a great evening activity that gets you excited about hosting – we get lots of tips from youtube.

You’d be surprised at how easily your garden can become a gorgeous backdrop for an alfresco dinner. Green is a gorgeous colour to incorporate into your table setting and to get everyone into the summer mood – don’t be scared of placing the table against the green.

Also - it really doesn’t need to be a large space! We have a relatively small garden, which means dinners often feel intimate and cosy in the evenings.


    Flowers of some kind are key but don't have to break the bank...

    Use what’s around you! I often pick flowers from the garden (or friends' gardens). It's easy to feel like you have to have a huge budget for flowers, but be industrious and there are lots of gorgeous plants and greenery you can be inspired by.

    Florists often have to get rid of a fair amount of flowers at the end of a day. If you can, befriend a florist who can give you discounted stems if you need them for that night. Of course, they won’t last long, but if you do this the day before or day of your dinner, they will be perfectly in bloom.

    Don't dismiss drying your flowers.

    When I get sent flowers, I always pick out the ones I know will look beautiful when dry. Pop these hanging upside down to dry, and before you know it you will have a beautiful collection of dried florals that can be used again and again.

      Decide on your colour palette...

      I often look at the backdrop and let that be the main colour of the table. In this tablescape it was definitely green, so I picked up on this in the tablecloth, napkins and napkin rings.

      Don’t be scared to add colour. Colour is what makes your table stand out, whether this is in the glasses or the napkin holders. Food is also a great way of bringing in colour!

      Match the linens to the colour of the food you are serving – this makes them both pop.

      Consider lighting...

      In the summer months it often doesn’t get dark until 9pm. I feel as though this is the perfect time to transform the dinner into an evening ‘do’ with candles. 

      I love collecting candles on my travels so I have a real collection.


        Don't forget furniture...

        Don’t worry too much about what your furniture looks like – it’s more often than not going to be covered by a tablecloth! I searched Gumtree, Ebay and Facebook Marketplace for the shape table I was looking for, and then used a tablecloth big enough to cover.

        A good alternative is a vintage wooden trestle table – these often photograph well. Odd chairs and colourful cushions also make for a fun setting. It’s important that your guests are comfortable.

        Most of all...

        ENJOY laying your table! Start collecting things that catch your eye and you will realise you have a specific style that you always lean towards – meaning they will more than likely match for many table settings to come.


        With love, 

        Leila x  


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