Caroline Shares Her Tabletop Essentials

Since being back in Santa Barbara, I’ve been on mission "clear out" at my house, and it’s amazing how a long spell away can shift what you find important and what you love to have around you. When I cleaned out my dining room and kitchen, I donated all the plates and serving ware that didn’t speak to me anymore and consolidated all my favorite tabletop essentials. Naturally, it’s all handmade special ceramics from my three favorite artists, and setting the table using their pieces fills me with joy and appreciation for the art of gatherings. So, I thought I’d share with you my essentials for making a pretty table year round, whether your gathering is indoors or out.

First up are the ceramic plates and bowls that sparked my initial love for handmade, special serving ware. The Chamberlin Platter is one of my favorites for its beautiful form and function. I love using it as a base layer for the plates and bowls on top. From the same artist, the Dinner Plate is handcrafted in an organic form for a timeless piece you will use again and again. And the Pasta Bowl that I layered on the top is one of the most versatile from the collection. With the wide, shallow design, it gets the most use – whether I'm eating granola and yogurt for breakfast or serving a pasta dish or salad at a gathering. 

To help anchor my table setting, I like to arrange a few vases around the center of the table. These Scandinavian and Japanese-inspired bud vases from Yokwe Ceramics (see here, here and here) have become favorites throughout my home. Each vase is handcrafted by Santa Barbara artist, Sarah Gernuardi, a mother to two children who were adopted from the Marshall Islands. Inspired by the desire to give back to her children's home country, she created Yokwe Ceramics, which supports education projects in the Islands. I was drawn to the vases' earth tones and beautiful form, and clustered together, they create a natural, elegant centerpiece. For this table setting I've added a few stems of dried thistle flowers from our DIANI Dried Flower Bar.

Candlelight is a must on any tabletop, whether dining outside or eating in. These vintage brass candlesticks (here and here) have become staples at our Hudson Valley home and I love simialr ones here on the West Coast too. I arranged a few on either side of the bud vases, topped with a mix of rope and column tapers. Hand poured using 100% beeswax, these candles burn very clean and really set the mood, plus they give off a wonderfully subtle aroma. 

A newer artist that I’ve fallen in love with over the past couple of years is Spako Clay. So much so that Julie Spako and I joined forces to create a collection inspired by my love of dandelions. It’s hard to pick favorites, but I love this handcrafted Oval Serving Dish. Featuring a neutral color palette with a unique, hand drawn dandelion design, this bowl makes any meal special. I’ve been using it for summer salads, but can’t wait to serve festive dishes come the holidays.

During my “clean out”, I discovered that I had accumulated quite a few linens over the years. So I paired down my collection to the ones I really loved, which includes these linen placemats. They are neutral enough to use everyday, yet can be elevated for fancier affairs, plus they create a great textural base for plates and napkins.

Cultiver makes my favorite sheets, and also makes these beautiful linen pinstripe printed napkins. They're crafted from European flax and stonewashed for softness, and I love how they make any table look effortlessly chic. To break up the neutral color palette, I topped each place setting with our DIANI Sage Bundle. Featuring a selection of dried wild flowers and grasses, this is a lovely detail that guests can bring home, and use the sage wand to burn.

When setting a table, I'm a big fan of mixing glassware sizes, shapes and colors. Lately, I've been drawn to the shape and design of the Lyonnais Wine Glass in grey and the Verone Highball Glass. I mixed the two here to add color and elegance to the tabletop. They really elevate an otherwise casual outdoor gathering.

Making space for the tabletop essentials that bring me joy has not only been therapeutic, but it has redefined my ever-evolving aesthetic as well. These favorites are timeless, with a neutral color palette that I can use everyday, from season to season. And table settings are where joy is born, time shared with those you love and memories created that last a lifetime. 

Cheers to you and your gatherings!
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