Using Nature to Inspire Your Tablescape

I love being outside in nature, whether it is humid and 100 degrees or frigid and below zero (and living in the Midwest, this is not an exaggeration of the extremes I face in a year). Connecting with the world relaxes my busy mind and supports my creativity.

Our bustling urban neighborhood is nestled between beautiful walking trails along the Milwaukee River and paths that lead to the shores of Lake Michigan. So we get the best of both worlds! The amenities that come with living in a large city, along with the peace and tranquility that comes from wide-open natural spaces.

Often times, before we entertain, my family and I will go for a hike in the woods to find inspiration. Sometimes nature influences what we cook and sometimes it helps us develop a creative tablescape. That is how my daughter and I came up with an idea for “name stones” that we created for a family dinner party.

A couple of months ago, we headed out on an unusually cool summer day dressed in layers of warm clothes. On our walk we passed flower gardens, newly planted vegetable and herb beds, and graffiti covered bridges. We splashed in muddy puddles and waded along riverbanks. All of this lent inspiration to our table design.


We loved the juxtaposition of the gritty urban scenery against the natural beauty of the meandering walking paths. We wanted to incorporate this duality into our table. My daughter and I decided that our “project” would be to paint rocks we had collected on our hike. With our found river stones in hand, we headed home and used metallic markers to paint names on one side of the stones and graffiti inspired designs on the other. For our flower arrangement, we used peonies from our garden which were at the height of their bloom. This contrast between hard and soft, found and grown was exactly what we wanted!

The next time you are looking for inspiration for your dinner table, look no further than the nature that surrounds you. Garden beds, leafy herbs, flowering branches, and even simple river rocks can add understated beauty to a table design.

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