• Jessica Bellef

Stylist's Toolkit: The artful napkin

If lights are the sparkly earrings of homewares, you could say napkins are the scarves of the tabletop. It's that little wrap of fabric that finishes off a story; it adds a splash of colour or pattern and creates an eye catching focal point with a swathe of layered movement.

For a stylist tasked with setting up a dining scene shoot, the napkin is a lifesaver. The slip of fabric adds looseness and a contrast of texture, colour or pattern. It breaks up the hard surfaces of dinnerware and cutlery, and can be a supportive player in the settings colour scheme.

The perfect napkin drape looks effortless. The trick really is in the flick of the wrist and the more you fuss about it, the less likely it will look like a natural, easy fall. It also helps if the napery is 100% linen- the magical, delicious fabric looks better when it is loosely arranged and worn in a little bit.

Here are six fine examples of great napkin moments...

Styled by Lotta Agaton

Black napkins on a black tablecloth makes for a moody and dramatic tabletop scheme.

Image via Bloomingville

What beautiful, organic textures in this still life moment. The tactile napkin adds contrast to the shinier surfaces and the stripe detail on the crockery.

Image by Christina McNeill

Here we have a neater approach to napkin wrangling but it still feels casual.

Image via The Beach People

Napkins are folded into loose triangles and draped over the table edge, extending the texture beyond just the top surface of the table. A stack of bowls anchor the arrangement.

Image by Sarah Culver

A romantic old-world inspired table top is layered up with a frayed edged napkin- a brilliant choice for a setting that feels like it has been in place since the Victorian era.

Image by Eve Wilson

The mustard napkin contrasts so perfectly with the blue and grey tableware and table top. A splash of contrasting colour will always be eye catching on a tablescape.