3 tricks for summery side tables

“When I decorate my home for summer, I like to give my side tables a fresh, seasonal look,” says Mary Carol Garrity.
“When I decorate my home for summer, I like to give my side tables a fresh, seasonal look,” says Mary Carol Garrity.

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

When I decorate my home for summer, I like to give my side tables a fresh, seasonal look. It just takes a few minutes to craft a summery display on these strategically important spots, and the payoff is huge. Your home looks renewed and refreshed. This summer, I’m using three simple decorating tools to trick up my side tables.

My short list of gotta-have accents for summer table displays is (drum roll, please!): blossoms and plants, beautiful vases and pots, and trays. These perennial favorites are versatile, come in every style, color and price range imaginable, and are super easy to design with. As you design sensational summer looks on your side tables, my store’s visual team created some tableaux using these three decorating basics to inspire you:


Chances are you already love many of the displays that dot your living spaces. I do too. So I don’t always completely redo the tableaux on my tables with each new season. I just add a seasonal element or two to the existing displays so they look fresh and new. Just pop in two petite ferns for a bit of summer color. Clock it ... done in five seconds. Perfect!

Here’s a variation of the same idea. Some small faux ferns are just the right size to tuck in here and there for a great summery touch. I am dreamy about glass cloches because when you put anything under a cloche, it looks regal. Dainty-sized ferns, under a cloche, give just a bit of energy to this stately scene.

Life is more fun when you laugh a little, right? So I like to tuck in a surprise or two when I decorate my home, like a whimsical glass ball hiding amongst plants. Figurines are also a great pick to beguile the careful observer.


It’s almost like a law of nature: If you have a great vase or pot, anything you put in it will look amazing. So my summer end tables always feature delightful little vases I can leave empty or spark up with blooms from the garden or a bouquet snatched on the way home from work.

Try this look: Cluster five or six similar, yet unique, vases together on a tray. I like vases with narrow necks because you don’t need to floral arranging skills to make them look sensational. Stick in a flower or two and they are good to go. Pick vases that feature different shapes and heights for a more interesting display.

During the winter months, I like big, bold, layered displays on buffets or console tables. But in summer, the lighter the look, the better. Delicate clear glass bud bases, grouped on a silver tray, are tall enough to hold their own between the pair of beefy lamps, but are still light and lovely. Best yet, the display can be styled in minutes.


When it comes to staging displays on a side table or ottoman, trays are an absolute must. They pull the pieces together and make them a cohesive visual unit. Just arrange bud vases together on a tray, using a few books as risers, and you have a show-stealer on your coffee table.

Can you ever have too many trays in your decor? No! We double dipped to create a layered summer coffee table display. The tableaux on a black tray is there to stay. But a unique blue and green melamine tray, holding a snack or drink, is a great seasonal addition.

This column was adapted from Mary Carol Garrity’s blog at She can be reached at .

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