A Seaside Table Setting

Aqua, teal and blue are the obvious colors when it comes to a sea-inspired palette.


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When it comes to summer entertainment, what better way to celebrate than with an ocean-themed luncheon or dinner party? Here are 10 elements you can use to throw the ultimate romantic seaside party.

  1. Rustic table. Any wood left outside will weather, but near the ocean where there’s more salt in the air, the aging process happens more quickly. Celebrate the rustic nature of the sea with a weathered wood table as the foundation for your party. If you want an upscale feel, pair the rustic table with elegant wrought-iron chairs.
  2. Ocean color palette. Aqua, teal and blue are the obvious colors when it comes to a sea-inspired palette. But don’t just stick to one shade. The color of the ocean changes, depending on location—from the clear aqua of the Hawaiian shoreline to the royal blue of a California beach and the light gray of a stormy day in New England. Use many shades of blue and green to reflect all the colors of water.

    The gauzy table runner and different shades of blue used to create this beach theme table achieve a seaside air.
    Using different shades of blue and a gauzy table runner all contribute to the ocean feel.
  3. Sea texture. Don’t stop at color—recreate the texture of the ocean too. Use a gauzy table runner that looks like the foam on the crest of a wave, or scatter sand as part of your centerpiece. Have guests come barefoot to the party, or give them a pair of flip flops as if you really were at the beach.
  4. Gold elements. Gold is the perfect complementary color to aqua, perhaps because of legends of mermaids who wear gold crowns and ruby necklaces from sunken ships. Use gold as a layering color, through chargers under the plates, cutlery and even salt and pepper shakers.

    The magic of this beach theme table is in the whimsical details like gold accents, strings of glass beads and pale driftwood.
    The magic of this table setting is in the whimsical details like gold accents, strings of glass beads and pale driftwood.
  5. Driftwood. It’s beautiful and it recalls the power of the ocean to smooth away rough edges. Use driftwood as part of your centerpiece, or tie short sticks around a candle with twine for rustic lighting. If you don’t have access to driftwood, you can make your own. Collect a few fallen branches; then sand or chisel off the bark to create a smooth surface. Finally, add a coat of white paint to recreate the sun-bleached look.
  6. Sea shells. These are a given for an ocean theme, and you can use shells in creative ways. Tie a sea star onto the back of each chair, or paint the names of your guests on a scallop or buttercup shell to use as seating cards. Hot glue a layer of tiny shells onto several Styrofoam balls and hang them with clear fishing wire above your centerpiece.

    A white sea star tied to a rustic chair with ribbon makes a perfect seating statement at this beach theme table.
    A white sea star tied to a rustic chair with ribbon makes a perfect seating statement.
  7. Sparkly accents. Have you ever noticed that on a sunny day, the ocean sparkles as if a million diamonds were shifting on the surface? Add sparkly items to your table to recreate this feel. Drape strings of glass beads over driftwood, or fill the crook of a conch shell with crystal gems to catch the sunlight.
  8. Sea glass. Sea glass is a treasure to find, and you can use it to add both sparkle and color to your table. Drop individual pieces amid your centerpiece to add an additional layer, or add a few pieces to your collection of sparkly gems. You could even use green glassware to serve lemonade and champagne. 

    Get creative by making an old sea map-like menu for this beach theme table.
    Get creative by making an old sea map-like menu. Not only will your guests be delighted to know the menu, but they’ll also love the unique detail.
  9. Treasure menu. Part of the excitement of a trip to the beach is the possibility of finding treasure or a message in a bottle. Give your guests this thrill with a menu you’ve aged, rolled up and placed in an apothecary jar. To age your printed menu, dip it in tea to stain it, repeatedly crumple and flatten it to give it a soft feel and rip the edges to make it more rustic.
  10. Sea creatures. If you want to go the extra mile, include live sea creatures as the stars of your centerpiece. Fill a clear vase with a layer of pebbles and dechlorinated water; then add a goldfish or betta fish. You could even add a hermit crab as a companion.
    This magnificent fish, with multiple hues of vibrant blue, is a true beach theme table finisher.
    This magnificent fish, with multiple hues of vibrant blue, is a true table finisher.

    Photography by Bret Gum. Styling by Staci Dumoski, Elise Portale and Victoria Van Vlear


Beach Picnic

A beach picnic can be more than sunblock and surfboards with some inspiration from the past.

Beach Picnic

An old-fashioned beach picnic is once again in vogue. Take a page from history and create a day you will remember forever. When life coasted at a slower pace, such outings were more commonplace. Make a beach picnic as romantic as you would when entertaining at home.

Beach Picnic Table

Here’s to flowing sundresses, large-brimmed straw hats, wet sandy toes, fresh flowers, seashells and sweets at your beach picnic.

Beach Picnic Table Decor

Be Inspired

Start with something vintage as an inspiration piece; we used beach-themed postcards that have an old-fashioned sensibility and set our color theme for our beach picnic.

Fresh flowers

Make a Checklist for Your Beach Picnic

  • Baskets for collecting shells
  • Books
  • Fresh flowers
  • Lanterns and candles
  • Mason jars
  • Painting, coloring or writing supplies and journal
  • Quilts
  • Treats, fruit and lemonade
  • Umbrella
  • Vintage plates, cups and flatware
  • Wagon for toting items

Beach Picnic

Vintage pails and a camera are thoughtful touches for a beach picnic. A flower frog moonlights as a pencil holder, encouraging guests to draw and write. Hunting for seashells is also encouraged with a tin basket and paper umbrellas.

Antique Enthusiasts Create Seaside Glamour

Learn how to give your home a touch of glamour with these styling tips.

Living Room
French antiques and crisp colors give this comfortable home a dose of glamour.

This light-filled space is as fresh as the air that flows in from the ocean below it. For Lucy and Tony Torres, former residents of Birmington, Michigan, their bright and airy home in San Clemente, California, is an enchanting oasis where birds sing in the distance and cool breezes and garden scents fill the air.

Lucy’s signature style combines romantic chandeliers and collections of crystal with antique, chippy French furniture in shades of cream and white for a look that is both collected and sophisticated. The finishing touch is a light color palette inspired by the natural views. “It is always changing,” Lucy says, “[The palette] is peaceful; there are many different shades of green, blue and aqua—soft shades and bright shades too. I love them all.” Here’s how to get a look that seamlessly blends elegance with comfort.


Mix and match. Combine styles and eras for a look that appears carefully collected over time. Scour antique stores and flea markets for pieces that are truly unique. Don’t be afraid to set an antique French sofa across from an oversized couch.

Unify found pieces with white paint. When mixing styles, pick one element that will tie them all together. For Lucy, picking furniture in shades of white helped to achieve a harmonious design.

Make a statement with structural pieces. Lucy’s penchant for architectural pieces adds elegance to her living spaces. Columns, ornate stone furniture and grand garden urns find their place indoors for a stately feel.

Add sparkling surfaces. Give your space some glamour with mirrored surfaces, elaborate chandeliers in all sizes and crystals sprinkled throughout. Try adding candelabra and silver candleholders for elegant mantel and table displays.

Accentuate the architecture. This room highlights the exposed wood ceiling and beams by allowing it to retain its natural color. Bring attention to structural details in your home by painting in a different shade than the rest of the room.

For more information on Lucy Torres, visit myparisfleamarket.com.