Round dining tables encourage conversation, camaraderie and, yes, romance. Smaller ones earn their keep as side tables and accents throughout the home. But round tables can be hard to fit when you want to dress them up; the selection of standard round tablecloths is fairly limited. Standard sizes range from 70 inches to 120 inches in diameter, so you must decide how much fabric you want to overhang the edge of the table. This is called the “drop.” It’s largely a matter of preference—you may be annoyed by a drop that bunches on your lap or obstructs your legs—although formal settings generally call for a longer drop. Minimum drop may be as little as 6 to 8 inches; a 12-inch drop usually hits the seat of the chair.
Instead of the expected round tablecloth on a round table, try a square. If your table has legs instead of a pedestal, align the corners of the cloth with the table legs. You can have the same drop as you would with a round tablecloth, and for formal settings, you can still hide the legs of the table without interfering with diners’ legs. A 90-inch square is a perfect fit for a 60-inch table. To adjust the drape at the corners, tie ribbon or cord around each table leg and the overhanging corner of the cloth; lift and pouf the excess overhang above the tie to get the look you want.
Choose cloths in different sizes. Use a round cloth on the bottom, with a smaller round or a square on top. Or lay a square cloth diagonally over another. If you have a lace cloth, set it off to best advantage (and add protection for your table) by draping it over a solid-color cloth.
Use a solid-color cloth underneath, add a square on top in a contrasting or complementary color or print, and you need only change the topper to change the mood. Use runners, place mats and napkins to add layers of interest. For sheer elegance and graphic impact, use black and white.
Bed Linens, Towels and Shawls
Think outside the box. Any large piece of fabric can cover a table: a bed sheet or patchwork quilt, a couple of colorful beach towels, or a favorite paisley shawl can provide a novel and colorful setting for your table.
Runners and Mats
If you have a beautiful table, consider crisscrossing runners, like the spokes of a wheel, for drama. If you need four place settings, use two runners; if you’re seating six, arrange three runners, with the center of the table as the hub. For a very large table, or to seat more guests, try using fewer runners (the layers can get too thick at the center) and placing matching or contrasting mats at the places between them.
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