Styling up an English Country Garden Al Fresco Dinner Party
We do love a good creative collaboration, particularly when it involves fellow interiors people like Fi Campos, a talented interiors stylist. We combined gorgeous products from La Di Da Interiors with a few vintage prices, some foraged florals and styled up casual country al fresco dining table, perfect for a gin afternoon tea! We wanted to keep it low budget and duplicatable so that you can replicate this at home too if you want.
Fi and I had been wanting to work together for a while, as we realised that we had complementary skills within interiors and styling. Whilst the weather has been so lovely, we thought we’d have our first go at a styled table scene outside; think elegant, country rustic styling, inspired by lavender fields and lots of fun!
We wanted to get a real sense of English country garden living for this table scene, so inspired by the wild flowers that surround us in our lovely Hampshire countryside, Fi created a harmonious colour scheme of lavender, thistle, dusky pinks and greens. Fi said "I adore dusky pinks and greens together; they complement one another so beautifully. I also added in pops of yellow as a highlight colour, to just add a little more depth. Quite often, adding small hints of a highlight colour just adds that extra dimension and surprise to styling and can add that spark of wow factor."
"Pulling the ideas together is really fun, and involves research and testing. - I had been taking a look through the lovely La Di Interiors" product collections, and it was here that I noticed that they stocked Test Valley Gin, and also had a wonderful array of tableware that would look gorgeous styled together. – This was where the idea of an al fresco summer gin party was born."
"Before the shoot, I used Pinterest to gather and curate any inspiration for the shoot. So some of the pins were about colour, others texture or overall look & feel. I then also added in pins of products photos from La Di Da Interiors. This ensured that the products I wanted to include would all work well in the scheme together. Once I’d pinned everything that I thought could work, I edited down the pins until I had the final collection. Pinterest is a great way of quickly checking how a whole scheme or collection is going to look, and I often use it as an initial process for my shoots. Then, if time allows, I will also create a tangible mood board with samples and sketches."
Next came the fun bit; buying and making the props.
We’re so lucky in Andover to have some fantastic businesses right on our doorstep, and we both really enjoy working with local businesses wherever possible.
The lovely Janet from Janet Mary Floral Designs supplied us with some of her gorgeous dried blooms, which worked really well alongside the wild flowers from our gardens.
Wessex Spirits supplied us with gorgeous empty gin bottles for our posies, as well as a few full bottles, available to purchase from La Di Da Interiors.
Fi's Top Tip: "Reusing bottles for flowers is one of my favourite types of recycling, and really helps give a dining table that relaxed, informal feel. It was important to keep the labels all within the colour palette, which helped create a harmonious scheme."
"It was then down to me to fill in the gaps. – Texture and layering are both key components, and involve ensuring a base colour ‘grounded’ the table set up. I used alternating colours for layering up placemats (round mats are always so photogenic) and plates, and ended with a ‘bundle’ of cutlery on top. For this, I cut up an old tea towel which had a print that pulled all of the colours together, and then wrapped it around the cutlery and secured with a knot. This gave it a relaxed feel and is a great way of pulling a scheme together. Any fabric can be used for this, including napkins if you want to use them after. We added green foliage paper napkins to pull the greenery from the ‘vases’ through to the table settings. The candelabra with dusky pink candles drew height towards the centre of the table, whilst seasonal fruit added more depth of colour and reality. Vintage glassware added a classic yet colourful feel, and prevented the overall effect from looking too modern and polished."
The main thing to remember when styling your summer dining table, is to layer it up, and ensure that the same colours appear throughout the table. This way, it will feel coordinated and ‘meant’, yet relaxed. Don’t worry about getting the exact hues the same; you can ‘cheat’ colours by adding in extra layers (runners/plates/place mats, etc) in order to make them appear multiple times on the table. Beautiful blooms are also really handy to tie in specific colours.
Whilst I loved it all, and genuinely wanted to sit down with a G&T in hand, my absolute favourite piece from the shoot just had to be those wonderful gin glasses. – They look simply fabulous on an al fresco dining table, and even better filled with Test Valley Gin!"
We created a little show and tell video of the finished table:
Fi Campos is a prop and interior stylist. She has worked for 12 years in the retail, manufacturing, and events industries, providing styling services for various homeware, furniture and beauty brands. Driven by originality, creativity and conscious design, Fi currently provides Art Direction, Production and Styling services for commercial businesses who want to create high performing campaigns for their product collections.