How To: Beach-Inspired Tabletop

Summer is nearly upon us, and with it, the welcome return of long languid nights dining alfresco. While there are many variations on the beach theme, this season I'm inclined to return to a straight-from-the-shore classic--with some over-the-top twists, Coco + Kelley-style, of course. Think: coral on woven linens, oversized shells, and, of course, an abundance of candlelight. To achieve this nautical tabletop, it all boils down to four main design tenets.  
coco6 LINE IT UP: Thick or thin, a nod to nautical stripes is a must for this setting. Keep it to one element--just the napkins if you're feeling minimal, the tablecloth if you're a bit more bold--and a Breton sweater to match, if you're really taken with the possibilities. $88, Anthropologie
coco1 GO GLAM: The key to this overall look is incorporating an element that elevates the setting from casual to magical. Consider adding a gilded moment--gold cutlery has a lovely glint in the moonlight. $29 for a set, West Elm
coco2 BRING IN THE BEACH: No, it's not cheesy to drape your tabletop with strands of seaside symbols--it's authentic. Pick one of your favorite beach finds--be it driftwood, sea glass or silver dollars--and arrange as a freeform runner. Or, if the real thing just isn't an option, opt for a pearlescent clam shell-as-ice-bucket, for your cold beverage needs. $129, Ballard Designs
coco3 ADD A FLORAL TOUCH: As far as I'm concerned, entertaining isn't entertaining without a floral touch. Go lavish with individual orchids at each guest's place setting, or tuck wildflowers into decorative vessels. Keep it simple to ensure your beach elements shine.  $340, John Derian.
coco5 CONTRAST TEXTURES: Organic textures such as woven runners, rope-wrapped hurricane candles, and hemstitched linens bring a seaside feel to the decor while providing a nice natural contrast to your more refined elements. $25, Cost Plus
  coco  Photographs: 1. Oncewed 2-3. 100layercake 4. 100layercake  5.Beth Helmstetter