Behind the Design: My Fourth of July Tablescape

Today I am excited to share my latest project as Redbook magazine’s resident home/DIY expert. From my babes’ birthday parties to summer barbecues, I take my tablescapes very seriously. A beautifully set table is the first thing your guests will notice (before they even taste the food), so it’s important to make a positive impression. I love barbecuing for the Fourth, but didn’t want to go overboard with American flags. So instead, I picked a nautical theme that will actually work all summer long. (Plus, it was a great excuse to use my flea market whale.)


Here are my tips to recreate this look from the July issue of Redbook:

  1. Table runner. I built everything around a bit of rope-patterned material I made into a table runner. Dirty little secret: I can’t use a sewing machine! I just folded the fabric under and duct-taped it to the right width.
  2. Rope-covered vases. Starting from the bottom, wrap a cheap glass cylinder vase with rope, securing it with craft glue as you go. Make sure you buy a glue that works on glass—not all of them do.
  3. Seafaring napkins. I used an anchor stamp from a stationary shop on plain red napkins. Dip your stamp into blue fabric paint, then press it into your napkins. I didn’t learn any maritime rope tying in Girl Scouts, so I just knotted these napkin rings to look cute.
  4. Star sides. Fresh summer fruit is an essential barbecue side dish. I used a cookie cutter on the watermelon to play into the patriotic theme.

Be sure to pick up the latest issue of Redbook for more on what inspired this nautical dinner party scene.

Are you hosting a barbecue this summer? What do you have planned?


  • Emily Gager

    Love this! What a way to brighten up a table!

  • Ann

    That’s gorgeous! I never do much in the way of a tablescape… usually just a tablecloth and some flowers, but you inspire me to try more! I can rock some red, white, and blue desserts though! :) http://houseofestrogen.typepad.com/house_of_estrogen/2011/07/happy-4th.html

  • nancy vanlaningham

    HAPPY HAPPY 4TH!!!!!!

  • CaroleLynn

    Thank you so much for the awesome ideas! The colors and textures are so well coordinated, so stunning!

  • desi

    Beautiful table! I love the whale too. You are so talented!

  • Bridget Whelan

    Red, white, and blue right down to the food! Wouldn’t expect anything less, always fabulous!

  • Suzie

    I LOVE everything about this!! Thank you Tori!! You have inspired me! I will be picking up Redbook just ofr this :-)

  • Inge wimpel

    It looks so good that i can eat it straight from the foto.
    Thanks for the tips i am going to use them ;)


  • Jessica

    Hi Tori!

    I consider myself pretty crafty, but I’ve never thought about using cookie cutters on Watermelon!!!! My daughter turns 3 in July and I will be borrowing your idea!! I love this table set up! Beautiful!!

  • Patti Ippolito

    So excited to have found your site! I really appreciate you sharing so that we can all look good!

  • Kimberly

    Such a neat set-up! I love the star shaped watermelon.

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  • abostonian

    I’ve been planning my 4th of July tablescape for the past week! Love the runner idea here – I really want to do a blue zig zag and I don’t sew so I may have to steal that tip! I told my dear hubby, you know what I’m most excited about for Thursday’s pool party and bbq – planning what the table will look like! He thinks I’m crazy but it’s so fun.

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