At your next family cookout, swap out plastic utensils for freshly cut flowers, Petoskey stones and dishware made from natural materials. Try these easy tips on how to set an outdoor table.

These tips were shared by Cheryl Robinson. See the Robinson’s naturally elegant Walloon Lake Cottage and outdoor living area.

How to Set an Outdoor Table

You won’t find a plastic tablecloth covering the teak dining table on the Robinson’s patio—but you will find fern fronds and ivy and hosta leaves strewn around and under the dishes. That is in keeping with Cheryl Robinson’s philosophy of keeping outdoor table settings natural and using natural materials that awaken the five senses, add texture and color and bring the wonder and beauty of Northern Michigan right to the table. Other ways to achieve a natural table setting?

  • Use materials you find in the landscape—leaves, flowers, stones, bark …
  • Include flower bouquets at the table, preferably from flowers found in the landscape.
  • Add touches of the natural elements you have on the table to the serving trays and serving area to create continuity.
  • Use dishware made from natural materials. Cheryl especially loves the cherry and walnut bowls her son Cameron made in high school shop class.



This Northern Michigan home feature was originally published in the April 2016 issue of Northern Home & Cottage.
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Photo(s) by Todd Zawistowski