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Decorating With Table Runners

By Sabrina Kaufman

The classic table linen known as the table runner can be incorporated into the ensemble of both casual and formal table settings. Coordinating linens like table runners, napkins, and placemats, as well as matching linens can create variety and add style to any table setting. As a simple yet practical table garment, the table runner can be used to create beautiful tables and also as a decorating accent for other pieces of furniture in parts of the home.

For a table, a table runner can both complement and protect a tablecloth. Placed end to end down the center of a table where serving bowls and platters typically sit, a table runner complements both the tablecloth and the serving ware but also protects the tablecloth from food spills. By creating a layered look with a tablecloth and runner, a table setting will have a more formal appearance. Used alone, a table runner can create a more casual look, yet still make a table look well dressed.

When used on a dining table, the table runner can serve as a guide for other decorative items. It draws the eye to the center of the table and provides the ideal backdrop for placing centerpieces, candles, garland, or other decorative accents typically used on a fully decorated and dressed table. Even in casual settings, a lone table runner and simple centerpiece can complement the other decor in a room.

Besides using table runners for their obvious and intended purpose, they make great decorative linens for other pieces of furniture. You can use a table runner to dress up a tired, worn buffet, sofa table, coffee table, or even a bookshelf. Draped across an accent table or other piece of furniture, a table runner provides a soft texture to complement wood or metal framing. It can also provide a safe place to set houseplants, or simply give a decorative touch to otherwise basic pieces.

Table runners can also be used to decorate outdoor settings, opting for one in place of a tablecloth on patio tables and bistro tables. Use a runner across a trunk, foot locker, or chest to dress it up and create dual-purpose furniture for indoors or out. Consider finishing touches on outdoor tables by placing a tea tray, serving platter or dessert tray in the center to accommodate lemonade and ice tea pitchers and glasses.

As holiday decorations, table runners are ideal for decorating the holiday table as well as other objects. Drape a mantel or buffet with a runner as a foundation for displaying holiday villages, poinsettias, candy dishes, pine garland, or other decorative holiday items. A wide table runner can also make a lovely tree skirt for smaller Christmas trees. Choose solid, traditional holiday colors like red, green, white, or silver, or use runners with holiday prints.

Table runners are one of the more versatile decorative table linens and can be used in a variety of creative ways. They are available in various lengths and widths and nearly every color, print, and fabric. Some table runners are even reversible, displaying a print pattern on one side and a coordinating solid color on the other.

When shopping for table runners, consider the different places throughout your home where they could be used. Experiment with different lengths and widths and use them with other table linens or alone to vary the look of your tables. You can choose a runner that drapes elegantly over the ends of an oblong table, or use a runner that stops short of the end. For example, for a round table use a short runner that’s about half the diameter of the table and set place settings on either side of the length to create a casual dining area for two.

Look around your home at the different surface areas, like on top of an entertainment center, bar or buffet. You could even put one on top of a computer desk hutch. Now determine which areas could benefit from the addition of a table runner. It’s a simple way to add texture and color to a room without committing to a permanent change of decor. Change runners, tablecloths, and centerpieces with the seasons and your home will always feel fresh and new.

At we offer thousands of coordinated styles and sizes reflecting the latest pattern and color trends. It’s simply an entertainers paradise. From casual at-home entertaining, to weddings, showers and special events, will help you create the perfect setting every time. Find the right table cloth, chair pads or napkin rings to take your table from ordinary to extraordinary. Visit online today.

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Article Citation
MLA Style Citation:
Kaufman, Sabrina "Decorating With Table Runners." Decorating With Table Runners. 12 Jul. 2010. 4 Aug 2014 <>.

APA Style Citation:
Kaufman, S (2010, July 12). Decorating With Table Runners. Retrieved August 4, 2014, from

Chicago Style Citation:
Kaufman, Sabrina "Decorating With Table Runners"

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