Table top design and decor can be easy to neglect. But as the famous designer Charles Eames says, “The details are not the details. They make the design.” Table top design and decor is not to be overlooked. It has to tie into the overall design, functionality and needs of the owner. You can’t think of it as just a place setting. It is a design detail. The same level of quality and detail throughout the yacht need to carry over into the table settings.

Much design on board a yacht is stationary. However, tabletop decor is a tactile and movable design. It can be arranged and rearranged to fulfill different needs, styles, experiences and levels of formality. Poor quality tableware can impact your whole experience! You need to be able to increase or decrease formality without sacrificing quality!


horizontal divider

Our starting point is to get an idea of what our client wants, their likes and dislikes and to understand how they will be using their table settings. It is also important for us to know if they will be using their yacht for personal use only or also for charter.

The meals served on a yacht are a large part of the yachting experience. Will they have formal meals, casual meals or a combination of both? Do they like fine cut crystal? Do they rather silver, gold or stainless steel cutlery? Do they prefer a satin or polished finish? Do they want to incorporate certain elements such as a particular color or a monogram? It is also important for clients to handle and feel the weight of various items.

Dining Salon
Table settings on board a yacht largely depend on what cuisine is being served. The table setting is critical, as it is the setting for what will be the focus – the food. Table settings and food have a synergistic relationship. The tableware sets the stage before the food arrives and guests respond to the colors and textures. It can be grand or subtle, but must always be appropriate for the meal with recognizable quality to elevate the meal and enhance the whole dining experience.


horizontal divider

To start with, I always select at least one formal set and one informal set of tableware for my clients. The wonderful thing about table settings is their ability to create an atmosphere.  It is important to consider what type of different moods you will want to create.

You can have different sets for different times of the day.  You can create a more formal ambiance or a more casual feel. It’s all about the environment you want to create and the feelings you want to evoke.

For a super casual vibe, the basics along with a few necessary dishes and utensils will do. However, a very formal gathering calls for multiple utensils, glasses and plates for each course.

That being said, on a yacht, a typical table will not suffice. The foundation to build upon is the tablecloth or placemats and other essentials needed for the meal. The materials, design and textures of the table linens and napkins can take a table from day to night, casual to formal. Just folding the napkins, however, is inadequate. There are an abundance of creative possibilities. The napkins must be uniquely folded or have napkin rings. Simply adding a chiffon, metallic or contrasting liner to your napkins can change the whole look of the table.

Once those essentials are set, extras can be layered in such as chargers and additional plates, bowls, utensils and glasses depending on the cuisine and level of formality. I encourage my clients to mix and match shapes, sizes, patterns and colors to create a completely distinctive look. These different pieces of similar quality will enhance each other and the entire table.

Name cards for each of the guests offer a personalized, welcoming touch, and provide another opportunity to wow guests and add to their experience.

Then the table can be taken to the next level with statement pieces, accessories and finishing touches. Nothing impresses guests like an exquisitely finished table.


horizontal divider

Metallic table runners add flare and embellished or woven patterns and designs add texture and depth. Centerpieces can include fresh floral arrays, candles, decorative vases or other special items such as the yacht’s interior decorative accessories. It’s important to keep these items low so that guests can see through to each other.

We just finished selecting the formal and informal table settings for the new 125’ Westport we are designing. Some of our selections included a luxurious collection of place settings that are bold, fun and exquisite in white and contrasting graphic black watercolor stripes and patterns with gold and platinum elements. The silverware and glassware are effortlessly elegant and ergonomically pleasing with a true Mies van der Rohe “less is more” sensibility. The placemats are a sophisticated and refined metallic lace. The napkins are white linen with gold trim and the gold napkins rings are adorned with druzy stones which are stones with glittering crystals that are frequently used in making jewelry!  I consider things like napkin rings the “table jewelry” that add the finishing touch to your table top.

Yacht owners realize that entertaining on their yacht is their moment to show their style and are becoming more engaged in every little detail.  As a yacht interior design firm, this is one of the things we offer: a total creative solution, from concept to completion, even down to the place settings; each piece ties into the design of the yacht as a whole.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Picture of About the Author

About the Author

Destry Darr Pethtel is an award-winning interior designer based in Florida. Her designs have been featured in several luxury yacht publications such as Showboats, Boat International, Yachts International, Yachting, Luxe Magazine to name just a few! Read More About Destry >>

Scroll to Top