Fresh ideas: Lay a table for an outdoor soirée

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An opulent gold chair from the interior is relocated outside to create atmosphere. Aleit bought the chair from Cape to Cuba in Cape Town some years ago; here, he has combined it with chairs from an old wrought-iron patio set.
An opulent gold chair from the interior is relocated outside to create atmosphere. Aleit bought the chair from Cape to Cuba in Cape Town some years ago; here, he has combined it with chairs from an old wrought-iron patio set.
Francois Oberholster
Lay a table using cement accessories softened with florals and touches of silver and gold to create a look that’s effortlessly elegant.

A concrete plan

Concrete finishes are still very much on trend – not only for countertops in kitchens and bathrooms, and on floors and walls, but for furniture and décor accessories too.

“It’s the attractive raw aesthetic of cement that appeals to homeowners,” says Johan Coetzee, the owner of World of Decorative Concrete (WODC) who made this sleek concrete-top table for the stoep at event guru Aleit Swanepoel’s Somerset West home.

“Concrete works well with glass, metals, linen and even paper,” explains Aleit, “which makes it the ideal medium when you want to create a contrasting look by combining hard and soft pieces.”

In keeping with this theme, Aleit used a variety of cement items such as statuettes, busts, underplates and even cement-look candles on this inviting table. It’s a stunner.

Dried hydrangeas can be used in any season and a light coat of spray paint will make the colours pop.


• Be sure to prepare your meal in advance if your kitchen is situated far from your entertainment space – you should be mingling with guests, not cooking in the kitchen. Alternatively, you can turn a dinner party into an exciting interactive cooking experience.

• Linen napkins are timeless and elegant – and they’re less likely to blow away when a breeze picks up.

• If you decide to include a tablecloth in your setting, consider adding table weights to prevent a gust of wind from wreaking havoc with your hard work. 

The mirrors on the wall are second-hand finds. Tickey creeper is slowly covering the wall, adding another soft touch to this outdoor space.

Aleit’s hands were cast in cement by WODC and now create a dramatic feature as a candleholder. Cement accessories cast and dipped by WODC

Decorative detail Using a mould, Johan cast a set of stylish concrete underplates and used WODC’s Quickset Concrete to ensure that they set within an hour. Aleit perfected each setting by adding a simple white linen napkin and gold cutlery arranged in a playful manner. Dinner plates fit snugly into the underplates.

Metallics, including cutlery and candlesticks, round off the look. “Combining gold and silver is my new thing,” says Aleit. “Gold is a major trend this season, so I incorporate it where possible. It adds a sense of nostalgia to any set-up.”

Johan offers concrete-dipping workshops at his factory in Brackenfell, Cape Town and says anything can be dipped to give it a cement look. A concrete-dipped rose will last forever!

Expert advice: A grey area

 Johan Coetzee from World of Decorative Concrete shares his knowledge:

What’s the difference between cement and concrete?

Although the terms cement and concrete are often used together, cement is an ingredient of concrete; it is the ‘glue’ that holds the sand and aggregates together. Concrete is a mixture of sand and gravel or stone, cement and water. Cement is mostly used for plastering and masonry work, whereas concrete is usually used when installing floors or constructing beams, stairs, pillars and more.

Matte or glossy finish?

When working with concrete, the preferred finish is usually matte since it gives the concrete a more natural feel. Should a glossy finish be desired, one has the option of grinding and polishing the concrete surfaces or using a high-gloss sealant.


WODC 021 982 0006

Aleit Swanepoel 021 007 2739,

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April 2023

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