Table Runners and Matching Placemats

Michelle Radcliff
Peach-colored table runner and place settings

When you want to dress up your dining room table for dinner guests and special occasions, consider using table runners and matching placemats. It's an easy way to make an ordinary table setting look attractive and special.

Decorating with Table Runners and Matching Placemats

A table runner is a long piece of material that is placed in the center of the table and runs length-wise from one end to the other. It can be used as a contrasting element with a tablecloth, or it can be used without a tablecloth. Table runners create a visual guide for placement of centerpieces, decorative table decor and serveware along the center of the table. They also help protect the tablecloth or table surface from food spills or wax dripping from candles.

Add placemats that match or complement the table runner. The placemats can be the same print or material as the table runner or you may want to add placemats in a solid color that match the dominant color of your patterned runner. You can look for placemats and runners with a similar pattern or theme, such as autumn or winter motifs. Placemats and table runners can be often be purchased as a matching set.

Unique Use of Runners

Be creative and turn table runners into long placemats. Instead of using one long runner lengthwise down the center of your table, set short runners at each place setting. This makes an attractive table setting with the actual runners serving as the placemats.

Table Runner and Placemat Styles

There are many different styles of matching table runners and placemats available. Some are even reversible so you can display either side. Placemats and table runners come in a vast variety of colors, textures and patterns. The style you decide to use depends on the occasion you're celebrating and the decorating theme you want to create.

A formal table setting for a wedding or anniversary looks classy when using silk or lace. A white or cream-colored tablecloth helps to dress up this type of formal table setting.

For a birthday party, use an informal style of tablecloth or no tablecloth. Cotton table runners in bold, bright colors or a fun, whimsical print creates a festive mood. Add placemats in matching colors or patterns.

Holiday celebrations may call for the runner and placemats to be in traditional colors. These occasions include such color combinations as red and green for Christmas, orange and black for Halloween, autumn colors in browns, reds, yellows, and oranges for Thanksgiving and pastel pink, purple, blue, or green for Easter. Patterned fabrics are also fun to use for holiday table settings.

If you go for a vintage, cottage chic or country farmhouse look, try to find placemats and runners with a quilted or rustic look.

Alternative Uses for Table Runners or Placemats

You can use table runners on other pieces of furniture. Place a short runner on top of a dresser for a nostalgic appeal. Runners also look good when placed on top of a hutch or buffet. If you have a sofa table, a runner can enhance and repeat the colors of your room décor. You can use a runner to accent a coffee table, a table on your patio, or even the top of a bookshelf or fireplace mantle.

Placemats can also be used for other purposes, depending on the style. You may place one under a potted plant to add color and protect your floor or furniture. You can use a placemat on a night stand, an end table or under a lamp, vase or candle.

Make Your Own

Online patterns are available that give you the option of making your own table runners and matching placemats. The most popular style for hand-made home furnishings is quilted placemats with table runners. There are so many attractive patterns that the hardest part of making your own will be choosing which pattern to make. If you enjoy making table linens, you might want to make extra sets to give away as holiday gifts to family and friends. You can find patterns at:


Whether or not you buy matching sets of table linens or choose to make your own, table runners and placemats are a fun and easy way to add color and texture accents to your home.

Table Runners and Matching Placemats