Covering Your Tabletop

For these settings, I was able to use some of my favorite things - sea shells, star fish, fresh greens and even an old oyster shell as a place card.

I love to “dress” a table – especially with unexpected toppers or cloths.  Summer time tag sales, marketplaces and even street corners are filled with a great assortment of table cloths and placemats.  They come in a wide range of materials and prices.   But before you go shopping for your next dinner party, first consider a few options around your home.

Here are some design ideas that I like and that you can see on the tops of my tables.

  • Bedspreads, patchwork quilts and other coverlets can do in a pinch.
  • Bed sheets work as well. I have been known to use a patterned or plain white sheet or even a favorite shower curtain as a tablecloth for impromptu lunches (they wash well too!).
  • Linen kitchen towels, oversized napkins and embroidered finger or tea towels are the perfect size for unusual place mats.
  • I’ve learned that in the colonial era, rugs were too valuable to be placed on the floor, so they were often used to cover tables. In the cooler weather, try an oriental, kilim, needlepoint carpet or another floor covering on your table. Just make sure it’s clean.  When I did this for a charity benefit, I was surprised at the reaction – everyone loved the “table cloth” (my oriental rug!)
  • Oversized silk scarves and Indian Sari’s can make for a dressy table covering.  If the scarf isn’t long enough to cover the entire table, place it in the middle to create an eye-catching center piece.

A little ingenuity, some summertime flea market hunting, or maybe a look in your closet can provide some terrific and unique looks for your dining room table – whether indoors or on a picnic table.  So why not experiment a little this summer and create an adventurous theme for your next gathering?

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