Shea McGee suggests these tablescaping tips if you're looking to master 'Modern Charm' on the dinner table

Using products from McGee & Co.'s spring collection, the interior designer shares how she sets the dining table for hosting success

A dining table with a blue and white tablecloth in a dark, wooden room
(Image credit: McGee & Co.)

Though not necessarily a well-loved task, setting the table right can take any dinner party to a whole new level. Thoughtfully layering a tablecloth, dinnerware and decorative accents brings personality and character to an otherwise standard table.

Just in time for spring entertaining, Shea McGee just shared how she styles a dining table to achieve her signature 'modern charm' aesthetic, using brand-new products from McGee & Co.'s Spring Collection. Here are the steps she takes, and the items she uses, to style a dining table that's sleek, sophisticated, and fit for every hosting need.

Shea's top tips for styling the dining table

'I think that when you're designing a dining room, you have the opportunity to completely transform a look when you add a tablecloth or your dinnerware. This could be the everyday look, but then you can completely transform it and flip it on its head when you incorporate pattern and color,' Shea says in a YouTube video showing how she styles her dining table.

Because the dining room is 'a designated place to gather and spend time together,' Shea stresses the importance of getting this room's look down. This is her best advice for getting the modern charm look right in the dining room.

1. Start with the tablecloth and placemats

Shea begins setting the table by draping the gorgeous, intricately patterned Jennie Tablecloth across an expansive wooden dining table. Calling the blue and white pattern 'classic,' she notes the light colors' contrast against the rest of the room's moody atmosphere.

'It just really stands out in a great way. I like to mix warm and cool, so we have a lot of warmth happening around the edges of the room. Doing a contrast with these cooler tones makes it really become the star of the tablescape,' Shea says in the video.

Next come the placemats, and Shea's picked out McGee & Co.'s Woven Rectangle Placemats for their thoughtful detailing and added visual interest. She says 'it's the details [she's] obsessed with,' noting the delicate scallop pattern and hemstitch that reveals the tablecloth's more vibrant colors.

'I love that you're getting a solid against the pattern, and it's not boring. You're getting all of this interest and it feels like something you could find at a flea market because it has heritage details,' she says.

2. Add on tableware

It's not a true tablescape without any dishes, and McGee & Co. has loads of gorgeous dinnerware sets to choose from. The brand's Spring Collection, though, matches perfectly with the modern charm aesthetic, blending old and new design principles in a stunning, minimalistic look.

'These new plates have the prettiest texture on them – they have almost a woven texture to them, and a really organic edge. They are beautiful,' she says of the Radlee Dinner Plates.

The Radlee Side Plates, in the same design but slightly smaller, are then layered on top to complete the tableware set. Shea shares that she often sets the table the night before a dinner party so that the day of, she can simply focus on preparing the food  – the stunning tablescape is already set to go. Next, Shea layers on a set of McNully Polished Brass Flatware.

'We originally only launched it in the silver, but now we have launched it in the gold. It has this really beautiful detail here. I love that it reminds me of some of the fluted edges that we use in our designs. I use the silver set as our everyday silverware at home, and now I need this colorway too,' Shea says in the video.

Shea McGee
Shea McGee

Interior designer, Shea McGee founded her iconic design firm, Studio McGee, with her husband Syd in 2014. They later launched their e-commerce brand, McGee & Co, and starred in their very own Netflix show, Dream Home Makeover.

3. Include some drinkware

The drinkware comes next, and Shea opts for the Spring Collection's Adderley line to complete each place setting's selection of glassware. Placing an Adderley Tumbler next to each stack of plates, Shea notes the dynamic design that defines the glassware line.

'This is a new collection for us, and it's handblown. It has this really pretty edge because of the twist that happens in the glass, and it gives this really pretty movement. They're just delicate, and I'm really excited about these,' says Shea.

She adds that this signature illusion of movement carries through the entire collection, also influencing the Bettencourt Lamp and several other pieces. The classic detailing paired with modern materials lends a charming transitional look to the whole table.

4. Place napkins

Shea then brings out the collection's Scallop Border Napkins, pre-folded and placed within the brand's Wooden Interlocked Napkin Rings. Setting one down atop each place setting, Shea notes the subtle pop of color present in each of the napkins.

'For the napkins this season, they are this white with a really pretty blue scallop embroidered edge, and this ties in with the tablecloth. I love that you're getting some color in this mix, and then the wood tone of these napkin rings ties back into the wood on the walls,' she says in the video.

Shea adds that the polished brass of the silverware contrasts beautifully with the organic, textured wood of the napkin rings – the juxtaposition creates a lovely blend of traditional and modern within the dining room.

'It helps create a more relaxed look instead of doing shiny metal on everything – often we have napkin rings that are metal materials. This helps break up the look, and I love that you're kind of getting this interlocking ring. It creates a nice form change on your tablescape,' she says.

5. Bring in flower arrangements

Especially as spring creeps in, no table setting is complete without a selection of fresh flowers to spruce things up. Shea says she introduces flowers to the table before placing anything else in the center so she knows how much space is left for other accessories and accents.

If you're looking to invest in a floral arrangement that won't go bad, McGee & Co. has several faux options that bring just as much life as the real deal. Try to create height and visual interest in the center of the table, introducing a breath of fresh to the dining room.

6. Choose accent pieces

The final touches truly make the look shine, and Shea opts for a small selection of accents to finish off the dining table. She adds the Adderley Pitcher, which 'relates back to the drinkware collection,' and a sophisticated set of Brasserie Salt & Pepper Shakers on the opposite side of the table.

'I love the dark-stained wood and the brass together, and then the 'S' and 'P.' Functional, but they also add interest to the table,' she says.

Shea then brings in two Fey Taper Holders, gold with a sleek, curved design, and strategically places them opposite the salt and pepper shakers to create visual balance.

'This is why I end up putting everything on my kitchen island, because I can't help but want all the cute things on my table. Oops!' Shea exclaims.

By following these straightforward steps, Shea says it's easy to 'add modern charm to your own home.' Shop the selection at McGee & Co., or use your own collections, to make your dining room shine this season.

Abby Wilson
Interior Design News Editor

I am an Interior Design News Editor at Homes & Gardens. Most recently, I worked with Better Homes & Gardens, where I wrote and edited content about home decor, gardening tips, food news, and more. Before that, I studied Journalism and English Literature at New York University. I’ve moved around quite a bit in the last several years, most recently making the trip to London, and love transforming each new space into a comfortable retreat that feels like home. When it comes to decor, I’m most drawn to unique vintage finds and calming colors.