Way back in the Medieval period, table runners were used to protect rare and valuable tablecloths from messy and uncouth diners, many of whom tended to use the tablecloth in front of them as a napkin.
Dining room manners, of course, have changed quite a lot over the past thousand or so years, and today, table runners are generally used for decorative purposes. And yet they also keep expensive tables—and yes, expensive tablecloths—safe from forks, knives, liquid spills and food debris. So maybe things haven’t changed all that much after all!
If you’d like to add a table runner to your own dining room, bear in mind that they can be used for both formal and informal settings. In either situation, they bring color, texture and an added interest to your table. You can use them to celebrate special occasions, to observe the holidays, or simply to change the mood of the room.
Choosing the Size of Your Table Runner
Because a table runner is meant to bring a certain degree of elegance to your dining room, it’s important to choose a runner that fits its intended purpose. Many table runners have a slight drop, and are designed to hang over the sides of the table on which they sit. Table runners can also be shorter than the length of the table, however, in which case they sit directly in the middle of the table.
Here’s one important rule of thumb: When using a tablecloth along with a table runner, the runner itself should never drop down past the length of the tablecloth.
Other Uses for Table Runners
Have you ever seen a dining table that features not one but two table runners, and which form a perpendicular cross and meet in the table’s middle? This style isn’t often used with a dining setting, but rather as a decorative element when the table isn’t in use. Placing a centerpiece in the middle of the table, right where the two runners meet, makes for a striking aesthetic statement.
And no, table runners are not just limited to dining tables. They can also be used on end tables, side tables, buffets, tea carts and coffee tables.
Those of you with gorgeous wood tables you’d like to show off might want to consider skipping the tablecloth altogether, and simply draping a runner down the middle of your table, where pots and hot plates can rest.
Our Selection of Table Runners and Tablecloths
Please visit the Dining section on our website to view our selection of tablecloths, where we also offer table runners in a couple different sizes.
If you don’t see a style or color that works for your particular needs, please call 1-800-877-4667 to speak with one of our knowledgeable sales reps, who will be happy to guide you with the right choice for your table.