There doesn’t seem to be a definitive origin story for table runners, but most writers we found seem to agree they came about in the Middle Ages.
As blogger Amy Isaman put it:
“Apparently, back in medieval times, people would wipe their faces on the table cloth. Eventually, thank God, this became unacceptable and somebody invented napkins, but people still ate like pigs and spilled their food and drinks all over the tablecloths which then had to be laundered, so some wise woman invented the table runner to protect the table cloth.”
The idea was that the table runner would catch all the spills and dropped food, and then be gathered up for cleaning at the end of the night, leaving the pristine tablecloth behind. Tablecloths and table runners became standard dining fixtures by the 1600s.
Hopefully, you’ll be using your table runners for decorative, and not simply practical, reasons. Here are 10 ways you can put one into play in your home:
- You can use a runner on your table with a tablecloth to create either harmony or contrast. If you have a wooden table and want the wood to be your “main event,” consider using just a table runner without a tablecloth.
- You can use a table runner for both formal and informal settings to bring color, texture and an added interest to your table.
- You can use it to celebrate special occasions, observe the holidays or simply change the mood of the room.
- A table runner can have a drop and hang over the sides of the table or it can be shorter than the length of the table and sit in the middle.
- If using a tablecloth along with the runner, the runner should not drop down past the drop of the tablecloth.
- A table runner can also be used across the table and along the length of the table where they crisscross each other with a centerpiece in the middle. This is usually done when not using for a dining setting but only as a decorative setting.
- And table runners aren’t just for dining tables. They can be used on end tables, side tables, buffets, tea carts and coffee tables.
- If you have a round table that seats eight, lay two table runners in an X pattern across the table. Leave enough space so that you have two people sitting in each section of the X, creating a more intimate feel in a larger space.
- A shorter table runner can highlight a centerpiece in an informal table setting. Take a table runner that’s one third the length of your table and put it in the center. When you put the centerpiece on top of the runner, the runner acts as a textural element.
- Of course, we’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that table runners can still serve their original purpose. Even if you’re not dining like you’re in the court of King Henry VIII, spills still happen.
So in short, table runners give your table settings color, texture and provide feeling of elegance and tradition. They’re a great way to dress up your kitchen or dining room table and keep things clean. They require less fabric, and will thus take up less space in your linen closet.
Please visit the dining section on our website to view our tablecloths which also offer table runners in a couple of different sizes.
If you do not see a style or color that fits your particular needs, don’t hesitate to contact InnStyle. You can e-mail us at email@example.com, or 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.