Placemats, napkins, a tablecloth and table runner can make the simplest of tables appear extra special. The look can either be co-ordinated and chic or contrasting and bold, depending on your personal taste. By choosing the colour of your table linen to complement your china or tableware, you can achieve a very chic and expensive look without spending a fortune. Choose your table runner, tablecloth and table mats carefully and they should give you many years of service. If you intend to use these items on a daily basis, it is worth investing in two sets so that you can have one set in use whilst the other is being cleaned. It is also best to avoid delicate fabrics and embellished items for such regular use, as an embroidered, decorated table runner is less likely to withstand regular washing. Opt for strong materials such as cotton, polycot ton and linen for daily use and keep the finer fabrics for special occasions.
Machine washable items are the most practical choice for the table. Most will need ironing to some extent and this is best done whilst the fabric is still slightly damp. A larger tablecloth will also benefit from line drying if possible. Many tablecloths are now available with additional stain protection such as a Teflon coating. This can be very useful when the table is used for family meals. If you opt for a tablecloth, table runner and mats that do not have a protective coating, you will need to attend to any serious staining as soon as possible after it occurs.
There are many different types of table runner available, including fabric, beaded, woven and crotchet styles. Generally, one would opt for a size to suit your table length. Many people prefer to have an overhang of fabric at each end, though in the case of a table runner that has a decorative motif at each end, you may prefer to have this on show on the surface of your table. Table runners may also be used without a tablecloth to add extra interest to an otherwise plain table and can be used with matching placemats for a quick and effective table-setting solution.