Proper Table Setting Guide – The Butler Speaks

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Photo: Liliboas / istockphoto

One of the first rules of formal table setting is the 24 inch rule. This is the ideal amount of space between the center of one plate and the center of the next plate, allowing the guest plenty of elbow room. The following two photos illustrate this. You may need to reduce the distance if your table is not large enough to allow 24 inch spacing.

The ideal distance between the back of a chair and the edge of the table is also 24 inches. This allows the guests to sit comfortably. A good butler will use their butler stick to take these two measurements.

Not many people today use butler’s sticks to set their daily dinner tables, and to be fair, even the contemporary butler doesn’t necessarily use the tool every day. But when there is a special occasion, like a family anniversary or an important anniversary, the butler stick can come in handy.

Butler’s tip: Precision + Symmetry = Beauty. When things are placed with precision and symmetry, the eye perceives beauty. This guideline applies to many aspects of home design, from a large, balanced entryway to matching nightstands.

This is how a professional butler would set the dining table with a butler stick.

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