The Triton


Yacht table decor, a beginner’s guide


It’s no secret that the food on board a yacht is one of the biggest highlights of a guest trip.  Similarly, how the table is presented will change the experience the guests have while sitting down to eat. Stews are the director and designer of this experience.

Here are some basics for setting a perfect table on board.


It’s important to think about what concept to create with the table. It’s more pleasing to the eye to look at a table that has a clear concept rather than something that is confusing.

Before picking out decor, answer these questions:

  • What are the guests like? Are they casual or formal? Will they appreciate funky, colorful tables? When it’s hard to judge the guests’ likes and dislikes, start with neutral colors and decor, gradually adding more as the trip goes on. Take note if they mention the table (or not) to each other. Notice how to have the tables match their personalities as you get to know them better.
  • What are the natural surroundings like? What local shells, flowers and colors can compliment the sea and landscape on the table?
  • What meal is it? Often, breakfast is more casual, lunch is more formal and dinner is even more formal. However, this depends on the guests.

Whatever the situation, the table should be warm, welcoming and create a place to have a perfect dining experience. Now it’s time to get creative.

Decor and place settings

A good rule is to pick out one item or color as a focus or a base for the table, and then pick out the rest of the details based on that item. Using a base color and then adding two to three detail colors is a great way to add balance. Too few colors can make the table look washed out; too many might be overwhelming or tacky.

For example, for a nautical-themed lunch, start with a base color of navy blue, and add detail colors of whites and browns. For an elegant dinner, start with a base color of silver, and add detail colors of creams and pinks.

The base colors will often be the placemats, table linen or table runner as they tend to be the biggest splash of color on the table. Detail colors often will be the flowers, shells, beads, candles and other small items.

Using a placemat or table runner as a base below the centerpiece creates a clear space for the design. It is also a safe way to create balance on the table.

Each table should have a focal point. This could be a flower arrangement, a larger candle, a large shell or a bowl of fruit, for example. If the table is long, it may need a few focal points. Too many large items on the table, however, and it could look messy. Keep it simple with an appropriate amount of focal points.

Using uneven numbers and variations in height are most aesthetically pleasing to the eye. Try using a few different-sized candle holders, for example, along with smaller shells and beads.

Remember to keep the height of the focal point low enough so that guests can comfortably see each other across the table. We don’t want them moving your masterpiece to see each other.

The centerpiece should look balanced. Along with using uneven numbers and a variation of heights, try mirroring or at least balancing the weight of items on each side of the focal point.

Some guest like to eat in dim lighting; others like a bright setting. It’s a good idea to have enough candles to illuminate the table, softly in case it’s the only lighting.

Battery-operated candles have come a long way. They once looked cheap and tacky. Nowadays many do not take away from an elegant table. My favorite are Pottery Barn’s Flickering Flameless Wax Pillar Candles.

When choosing candles, use either white or cream, but not both. They look different when lit at night and can throw off the look of the table.

Keep candles unscented (unless guests request scented). Scented candles can distract from the taste of the wine and food, and they often combine poorly with people’s perfumes.

Set the table about one hour before the guests would like to eat. This allows time to change anything if it doesn’t look great. It also gives the appearance of organization and will save stress if the guests suddenly want to eat at 7:30 instead of 8.

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from her blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting ( Comments are welcome at

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About Angela Orecchio

Angela Orecchio is a chief stew and certified health coach. This column was edited from blog, Savvy Stewardess, The Smart Girl’s Guide to Yachting. Contact her through

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