Dressing up the Table!

Meet my Guest:
Sarah from A Beach Cottage

My friend Sarah, from A Beach Cottage, lives on the beaches of Sydney, Australia.  Quite awhile back she found 4RE, she read my entire blog in a couple of nights, and then she was inspired enough to get back into the groove of entertaining.

If you want to visit her refreshing blog, she is one talented lady who I always find so inspiring. She has simple, beachy tablescapes and always a great message.  

Thank you Sarah, for being my guest today.  I'm happy that I was able to help you out of your entertaining funk, and I'm happy to call you friend!

Here's Sarah's story ...

A few years ago, but a whole lifetime away, in our beautiful house in England, I used to host events in our home - parties, dinners, casual  meals with friends. And then when we moved to the other side of the world, and for a whole lot of reasons I was out of my comfort zone.  Having people over when I felt like this was completely out of the question, and so I stopped.

But as a girl who loves to cook, who has a million cookbooks, and likes to play hostess - it was not a good place to be.  So I decided to bite the bullet, as I had to get over this hurdle - so I invited people over, knowing that everything was far from perfect.  

And it all went swimmingly and I didn't really look back, though I have to say I am still a tiny bit choosy about who I invite over, but that may change. 

For me, how I think about having guests for dinner is key to getting it right. Thinking 'entertaining' conjures up scenes of stressed-out-women-with-souffles in the kitchen.  I'd rather like to think about having friends over for a casual meal.  

And simplicity is key, because who wants any more stress?  But more than just simplicity for me is the mood - depending on life, schedules, budget, and time. And although I like simple, I too like effort.  I don't know about you, but walking into someone's home when they've made some attempt to set a table, perfect or not, and light a few candles, makes me feel good.

Since I'm entertaining again, I have found I love to dress a table, an unexpected leisurely little bit of creation at the weekend that is just not an option for the hurly-burly of our week nights. In fact, on nights during the week, it is just about all I can do to get a dinner on the table, let alone one that has been dressed up to its eyeballs.  I refuse, however, to let time, or lack of it, dictate my enjoyment of doing the table on the weekend, which is why I keep the dining part as simple as possible.  

I follow a straightforward interchangeable menu, something like this  - easy dips or deli-bought specialties to start, something like a roast chicken with basil and lemon plus roasted onions and red peppers (all easily shoved in oven) plus green salad, followed by an apple tart which even the most challenged baker like me can do.  

Which leaves me time to do what I enjoy - dressing the table - rather than panicking in the kitchen, stuffing mushrooms. Although you'll quite often find me running round like a headless chicken, just before the doorbell rings, trying to find the square white candles...

Do you enjoy dressing up the table ahead of time?

Come back tomorrow, here on 4RE, for a very special $200 GIVEAWAY!


The Real Me! said...

What beautiful pictures! I like to dress my table for special occasions. I wish we had the space to store "table dressings" but it usually ends up consisting of things I have here and there. I loved the simple colors and style of each table. Very nice.

Empty Nest Full Life said...

I have visited, and she has beautiful table arrangement. I know her guests feel very special. I am working in the same direction. I would like to have people in my home more often, thanks to your inspiration. Jackie

slip4 said...

I love both of your blogs, for the simple and elegant tips. Sandy has inspired me with her no-fuss style of taking care of people. My favorite part of any gathering is setting the table. I want people to feel that I cared enough to make the effort, and yet I want them to think it was very easy (which for me it is! - the table part anyway).

Kim said...

How fun that we can become "blog friends" with people over in Australia!

Astrid said...

Gorgeous tablescapes!

I'm probably the only person who doesn't dress up the table. I'd love to but it's usually the last thing on my mind.

I still haven't gotten over the hump of inviting people into my home. I keep saying that after my house is fixed up (it needs trimwork and some painting, etc) that I'll invite people over...but I know that isn't likely to happen.

Anonymous said...

I'm slowly wading into entertaining but the biggest lesson I've learned is one you just mentioned: Simple is best. It's easier for the hostess and I think it keeps your guests from feeling overwhelmed and makes them feel more comfortable. And I don't know why I hadn't really thought about it, but you're right: all it takes are a few added touches (candles, special tablescape) to make people feel important and like VIP guests in your home.

Nice to meet you, Sarah.

An Accomplished Woman said...


I love the Beach Cottage. She has such great style and I am sure she is a fabulous entertainer.

Thanks for highlighting her and as always, you are such an inspiration as she is.


Laryssa Herbert said...

These table settings are lovely!

GiBee said...

I LOVE to dress up my tables. Even if it is just my sisternad brother in-law (our best friends) coming over to dinner. It is such a special touch to sit down to dinner and be surrounded by linen, real plates, flowers... It really allows you to relax and enjoy the beauty.

And... it doesn't have to be fancy. A plain white table cloth with a small glass filled with garden flowers, and my white dinner plates from crate and barrel (I got them for $4 per plate!) -- that makes a special evening in my home!

Laurie said...

I love the photos and her story. It's inspiring to see what others do. I love the way she dressed her table...

Anonymous said...

The first tablescape is my favorite! Inspiration to entertain...

Gina said...

Beautiful tables! I've seen her tables before-I love the burlap. What a great touch and style.

And yes, I love to dress the tables and usually run around like a headless chicken just before guests arrive. (but that's usually because I'm chasing the kids away from the desert!)

The Blissfully Happy Housewife said...

Love the peaceful table settings...you totally have inspired me!!

Also, I am a bit jealous that you live in Sydney, Australia. I was fortunate enough to visit there last October and completely fell in love with it. I think I left just a little bit of my heart back there in Sydney.

Thanks so much for sharing!!!


Rhoda @ Southern Hospitality said...

What a great post, Sarah & Sandy! Love both you girls. Sarah, you always have a wonderfully dressed table. I'd love to do more entertaining, but we are still challenged with finding friends in our new city. People just don't seem to have the time or inclination to get together. I have been inspired to try harder though & maybe we'll cultivate more eventually.

MyJourneyBack said...

Oh what beautiful photo's. I love white. Thanks for sharing your friend.
Have a great week. BTW did you say giveway...see you tomorrow.

Melissa @ The Inspired Room said...

How exciting to see Sarah here! Her style is amazing, I'm so happy she shared her entertaining secrets!


abeachcottage said...

oh I am so pleased with this, I am about to post about it too.

Thanks SO MUCH Sandy you are one beautiful person.


p.s. will be back to read the comments properly just heading out on school run and ocean walk x

~nanashouse~ said...

I just love the phrase "shove in the oven"!

50s Housewife said...

Love the beachy tables! I tend to just throw out some placemats and a candle or two unless it's a special occasion. I need top get better about that.

~j~ said...

a girl after my own heart! beautiful post! truly inspiring and encouraging!