My Outdoor Dining Space for the Living by Design “Virtual Showhouse”

When I first heard the concept behind the Living by Design Virtual Showhouse, I’ll admit—I was equal parts intrigued and confused. But when I fully wrapped my head around the innovative idea and the Embello team invited me to come on board as one of the designers—I jumped on board. Here’s the scoop:

The Living by Design Showhouse is a virtual, interactive and fully shoppable experience that is created to inspire with fresh, original ideas and new products from an incredible roster of brands. Since the house is virtual, there are no practical constraints, meaning designers have free reign to design what’s new and next in home design. I was thrilled to join designers like Bobby Berk and Brigette Romanek, and thankfully I was tasked with a “room” that is right up my alley: the outdoor dining area.

I drew my inspiration for this virtual design from the home’s west coast setting in Brentwood, California. I leaned into materials that reflect the California-meets-Mediterranean aesthetic that I’m always drawn to, using terra cotta, textural stucco, warm wood, and tile throughout the space. And of course, I designed it all to be a space intended for intimate gatherings and bringing people together around a table filled with delicious food. I’m so excited to share the final renderings of this space with you, and be sure to head over to the Living By Design Showhouse site to take the virtual tour of the entire home. And be sure to enter for a chance to win $5,000 to upgrade your own home.

The dining table

The dining table is the heart of this room, so I chose a large farmhouse-style table that’s meant for gathering and will never go out of style.

Setting the table

Of course, I set the table with earthy, casual pieces from Casa Zuma. I skipped the linen tablecloth so the beauty of the wood table could take center stage, but added texture with woven placemats and handmade ceramic dinnerware.

The lounge

There was plenty of space for a casual living area off the dining room, so I designed a cozy lounge that’s centered around a stucco fireplace. Built-in seating and low, lounge-y chairs create a zone for reading, talking, and chilling outside.

The pizza oven

You guys know that if there’s any way possible to add a pizza oven to an outdoor space, I’m gonna go for it! This luxurious version is definitely for my fellow pizza lovers, turning out authentic wood-fired pizzas like an Italian chef. The beautiful tile makes it feel a bit more polished, and concrete counters hold toppings, tools, and fresh herbs for garnish.

To see more of this space and take the full tour, head over to the Living By Design Showhouse site!

Thank you to all the incredible sponsors of this article— AHF, Ann Sacks, California Closets, Dunn-Edwards DURA, Kohler, Lamps Plus, Minted, Summer Classics , and YouSee, for transforming my idea into this stunning 3D visualization.

14 Dining Table Centerpiece Ideas Fit for Any Occasion—and Any Time of Year

I like to think of the dining room table as the grounding piece of any home. Some may call it the living room—where many of us naturally gravitate around the television—or even the kitchen, where we may assist with prep or linger with a glass of wine. But the dining table is where everyone gathers with a common need: to satisfy our desire not only for food but for conversation and connection. That’s why, when it comes to dining table centerpiece ideas, I aim to create not simply a centerpiece consigned only to the dining area, but that serves as a statement for the rest of the home.

Ahead, we’re sharing ideas that span every style and aesthetic. From modern or traditional, to contemporary or vintage, these dining table centerpiece ideas are sure to add a little special spark to any space. Start sending out your dinner party invites—it’s time to give your dining table a glow-up.

Featured image from our interview with Brian and Anissa Zajac by Ashlee Fox.

Image by Michelle Nash

DIY a Floral Bouquet

PSA: You don’t need to shell out $100+ for a fancy, florist-crafted bouquet. While we all love treating our tables once and a while to the professional touch, a simple arrangement picked fresh from your garden will add a spark of beauty to any dining table. Bonus: It’s an opportunity to share what you’re growing, too.

Stack Some Books

Do you have a set of Penguin Classics that could be put to better use? Any set of vintage or otherwise pretty books will do. Simply stack a few books (I find three is the perfect number) and pair them with a candle or a small vase on top. It’s a refined way to add some height and interest to your table.

Image by Michelle Nash

Make an Edible Arrangement

Forgo the cantaloupe-and-honeydew combos of yesteryear and instead opt for something more refined. If you’re hosting, craft a cheeseboard that brings all your guest’s eyes—and appetites—to the table. It’s an easy and edible way to incorporate color and texture into your centerpiece.

Incorporate Varying Heights

I like to create interest and depth by combining two pieces of varying heights. A simple bowl-and-vase combo gives you the best of both worlds. Just be sure to keep the design and contents simple and streamlined. This idea can quickly go from contemporary to cluttered.

Image by Anastasiya Pudova

Keep It Minimal

Just a simple, ceramic bowl can do wonders as your centerpiece. You can leave it empty or fill it with fruit. Either way, opt for a bowl that’s simple but with enough aesthetic interest to keep the table from feeling bare. I love a simple, but stunning wood bowl or a ceramic piece to attract attention. (If it feels empty, add a grouping of single-hued citrus, like oranges or lemons.)

Utilize Vertical Space

This trick works wonders for smaller dining spaces. If you have a circular dining table that fits four or fewer, rather than overwhelm the surface area, select a slender vase with a few taller stems to draw the eye upwards. Just be sure to keep the arrangement minimal—you don’t want it to block your guests’ view.

Image by Michelle Nash

Set the Table

I love this idea for more formal dining areas. (Efficient party planners will love it as well.) Set the table with plates (go all-out with chargers, dinner, and salad plates), cloth napkins, and glassware. I’d just keep the silverware off the table and only add it once you’re ready to eat.

Create a Vignette

Arrange a few found objects to tell a story at your table. Ground the vignette with a tray or board to give the elements continuity. It’s a great way to incorporate creativity into your dining table setup.

Image by Belathée Photography

Line Up a Few Small Bouquets

To create an eclectic vibe, arrange a few DIY bouquets in makeshift vases. Repurposing ceramic jugs or tea tins works perfectly. Set the arrangements in a line to emphasize the length of your table, and go for varying heights to add a touch of whimsy.

Opt for Coziness

Sometimes, a formal dining table centerpiece isn’t the vibe. If you prefer a more casual feel, invite guests in with a candle, houseplant, and perhaps even an open cookbook to make them feel right at home.

Image by Anastasiya Pudova

Arrange a Bouquet of Dried Flowers

My sister opted for all dried flowers at her wedding and I was blown away: genius. Not only will they not droop from the heat or freeze from a cold rush of AC, but they’ll last as long as you’d like to display them. Cost-friendly and sustainable—we love.

Add Color

Some of the best dining table centerpiece ideas emphasize a contrast between the centerpiece and the table design itself. If you have a more neutral table—whether it’s wood or marble—I love to add a pop of color either with a maximalist vase or a bowl filled with bright, beautiful citrus or green apples.

Image by Michelle Nash

Begin With a Table Runner

For a simple, but statement-making addition to your table, lay down a table runner before adding more elements. It’s an easy way to anchor the space and works for both casual and more formal settings.

Display a Coffee Table Tray

Apply one of our favorite coffee table design tricks to your dining room. A tray will ground the table, providing the foundation for more layering opportunities. From there, you can add candles, a design book, or a small, sentimental trinket of your choice.