Ask The Expert: Caroline McDonald from Ballard Designs on Creating the Perfect Outdoor Table

Tips on mixing patterns, perfecting color combos, crafting a gorgeous centerpiece and more.

3. What is the best way to tastefully mix and match plates, linens, etc.?

Color is a great way to mix and match without going overboard, especially when it comes to dinnerware. Let’s take blue and white. You can mix almost any blue-and-white pattern together, add in a coordinating tablecloth, and then accent with a solid napkin in a color that perks everything up. I love yellows and hot pinks with navy!

Image courtesy of Ballard Designs

We’re big believers in mixing and matching patterns, so much so that many of our collections have already done the hard work for you. We’ve paired a small geometric print with a large botanical watercolor.

If you’re mixing and matching from scratch, here’s a great rule: one large print, one small print, and one stripe.

4. We’ve heard that more is more regarding dinnerware. What is your take?

It depends entirely on your occasion and your personal style. If you’re a maximalist, then go to town creating an elaborate table. Personally, if I’m just having a casual dinner party with friends, I like to balance fancier accents with things that feel simple and handmade. So I might do a gorgeous floral centerpiece that’s a bit too much, but I’ll leave the table without a cloth and do a more simple place setting with plain white plates and woven placemats.

Image courtesy of Chronicles of Frivolity

The same goes for a dinner party outdoors. I may use a set of melamine as my plates, but then I’ll add in a nice tablecloth and/or pressed napkins. Anything you’d use on your indoor table you can use outdoors, too.

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