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European Traditions in Linens and Housewares

Our discoveries along the byways of France and Beyond


The Odd Size Table Challenge

A few suggestions from The Tablecloth Lady

My friend invited me over to her new house to see the new dining room furniture she had just purchased. The whole arrangement was just absolutely beautiful with matching woods and carvings. The chairs were very comfortable so that people would be willing to sit and chat as the evening meal lingered on. I told her how much I admired the entire effect and was looking forward to being invited over for one of her wonderful dinners.


She smiled and then said there was a problem. Apparently, when she chose the suite she didn’t take measurements of the table. Her dining room was quite large so a large table was not a problem. Well, not quite. She had begun to think about tablecloths and had begun to look for exactly the right thing. And that is where the problem began. Her table was 60” wide and about 70” long before adding the two expansion leaves…larger than most tables and table coverings. We could take care of the length even with the additional leaves, but the width was a problem. She definitely wanted a cloth, both for the appearance and also for the added protection, but the widest cloth she could find was about 74” wide and a 7” drape was totally inadequate for that table. She asked for some help developing ideas.


We had to get creative. The first thing that came to mind was a combination of table runners and placemats. With a table runner down the middle of the table, the surface would be protected from scratches caused by moving centerpiece, candle holders and serving dishes, while still showing off the attractive wood finish. Matching or coordinating runners could be placed running across the table at meals to serve as place markers and protect the table from spills and scratches. For casual dinners, placemats, again matching or coordinating, would do very nicely.


She agreed that those ideas were possibilities, but asked if there something else that could be done. I suggested that she use multiple square tablecloths. By placing them so that they were on the diagonal, which is with the points hanging over the sides not the corners, the table would be adequately covered and the effect would be very interesting. When the table was fully opened three squares would fit very nicely and two would fit with only one leaf. One would probably do when no leaves were used.


A series of round tablecloths would also be possible, particularly for an oval table. Oval table cloths are not readily available, and overlapping rounds could suffice. Like diagonal squares, rounds could be also used on a rectangular table.


Multiple matching or coordinating rectangular cloths can be placed across the width of the table…perhaps blue, white and red for a French dinner, or red, white and green for Italian? Another alternative would be to use a square table cloth and then augment the length when needed with cross runners or placemats to take up the extra area.


We also discussed the possibility of using napkins as placemats. living dying download A 22” square napkin placed on the diagonal with some draping makes a very interesting placemat.


She agreed that we had come up with some interesting ideas, but would the table be adequately protected? Apparently the table is used just as so many are. When the family members come into the house they put what ever it is in their hands down on the table and soon it is piled high with all the families possessions. The cloth used for dinner would most likely be inadequate for that. I pointed out that there were several kinds of coated cloths that had sufficient body to protect from scratches and had the extra benefit of protecting the table from moisture from wet mittens, spilled water from bottles, spilled water color or paint, or all the other things that get carried in and get left. That kind of covering would be very flexible because, she could also use the covering in her kitchen if she wanted to.


These ideas show that a large or odd shaped table can still be covered in a variety of ways to provide the basis for attractive and functional tablescapes. the waterboy dvd Just use your imagination and remember…there are no tablescape police!

Perhaps you have some ideas?

– Kathryn –

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