When we think of the beach, our minds drift to the serenity of sea blues and greens. This start-of-summer feast travels a different road, relying on red to carry the tone. While blues are muted, reds are loud and clear—the blazing ball of fire as the sun sinks into ocean, the red-gold of lobster shells, the paprika-colored coral sunning on the reef. Red razzle-dazzles with decor and food splashed fresh from the ocean against a background of white. A coral-patterned fabric sets the stage for the red coral centerpieces to deliver the knockout punch. Sometimes the beauty of a tablescape is that it takes you where you could not otherwise go. If you find yourself landlocked, kick off summer in the backyard.
When you dine outdoors, it’s easy to create the appearance of a dining room with breezy white sheering hung from bamboo poles stuck in the sand and loosely gathered then knotted to emulate curtains. Light a path to the table. Just fill crackled-glass hurricanes with sand, steady red pillar candles in each, and anchor them in the sand to start a path. Use the same hurricanes to bookend the table. These came with a shell-encrusted base, but plain glass ones will illuminate with the same effect. Fashion: A flirty eyelet dress—or a beach cover-up—in red-hot red keeps it short and simple. My niece Stephanie keeps cool in breezy white linen ruffles.
The table sizzles with dramatic red coral, mixed with rouge red tapers in clear glass candleholders. A large chunk of red coral dominates, flanked with pieces of white coral and a few taller reds. If you have trouble finding red coral (usually available at a pet supply store), buy faux pieces from a craft store and spray paint them red. Red can overwhelm a table, so use it sparingly but powerfully. Choose white plates with the barest hint of red at the rim, adding texture with the top plates’ swirls. Finish by gathering white napkins and fastening them with a ponytail holder in the same shade.
Seashell place cards add softness to bold place settings. Buy photo frames ready-made and slip name cards inside or hot-glue seashells on a white frame. Buy shells by the bag at craft stores or collect your own.