Types of Table Linens

When it comes to table linens, you couldn't ask for more variety and quality materials. Take your pick of table runners, placemats or tablecloths to create the perfect aesthetic for your dinner table. Although each option has its specific advantages, one major perk of table linens is that they're phenomenal home accessories that cultivate a cozy, inviting ambiance.

Linen Cotton Napkins

What Materials are Table Linens Made of?

There are many fabrics, fibers and textiles that table linens come in. The obvious one is linen itself, a highly durable and resistant type of fiber made from the flax plant. Other options you'll find in west elm's collection are abaca, cotton, mendong straw, cotton blends, synthetic fibers, metallic threads and more.

Which is Better: Tablecloths, Placemats or Table Runners?

Although all of these have a trait in common--namely, that they're designed to adorn tables--these home accessories have very different uses.

Tablecloths cover tabletops on many occasions, whether it's centered around a meal or not. It's not hard to find homes in which the dinner table is covered at all times. Some families even opt to use an everyday tablecloth during their usual routine and swap those linens out with fancier tablecloths for special occasions. All in all, the main purpose of tablecloths is not merely decorative--they also play a significant role in conserving the surface of your table and keeping the area clean and tidy.

Placemats, on the other hand, are almost exclusively used during meals. They are a hassle-free way to collect bits and pieces of food that might fall on the table and also contain potential spills. Further, placemats serve as very efficient place settings around the dinner table, creating a cohesive, wholesome look. Once the meal is over, placemats are usually wiped down and put away.

Table runners are in a whole different category. Their primary use is as a statement piece, rolled out after the meal is done and the table is cleared. Some people even use table runners on coffee tables or over the mantels to add a little flourish to their space. Table runners act as natural focal points in a room when the table isn't set for a meal so that you aren't left with empty space after you've put your dishes away.

What Styles Do Table Linens Come in?

west elm's pieces suit a wide range of interior designs. The easiest way to determine if the table linens that caught your eye might be a match for your home is to search by color. Your interior design should feature colors that complement the overall palette you used in your home.

That said, some styles do mesh well with very specific decorations. Handwoven or woven table runners and placemats fit in seamlessly in rustic, country, country chic or cottage aesthetics. Metallic threads are versatile and look good in glam settings just as easily as they do in contemporary, modern and urban homes.

Woven Brights Placemats

How to Clean Table Linens?

Because "table linens" itself is such a broad category, there aren't many hard-and-fast rules about how to approach the care and maintenance of these home accessories. Generally speaking, linen is a material you can clean with no fuss. Many models are machine washable, which appeals to homeowners who are always on the go. Most tablecloths that don't have any embroidery around the edges are equally easy to maintain with a frequent wash and dry regimen.

For maximum convenience, consider getting placemats that don't require regular upkeep. Like we outlined above, it can be as easy as wiping down and putting away once your meal is over. If the material of your choice isn't prone to stains, you won't have to concern yourself with frequent laundering.

If you have a formal dining room that you don't use often, consider placing a table runner on top of the table. Not only will you keep part of the surface covered and avoid dust and grime, you'll also anchor your room with a beautiful and tasteful new addition. Top it off with family pictures or whimsical knick knacks (or both!) and you've transformed your space effortlessly.

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