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So...Is Your Table Dressed--Tell Me About It..

I'm thinking of Spring. Warmer Weather. Baseball Season Starts. Easter. College Graduation. The season to start driving barefoot. Spring Cleaning. New Table Linens.

Yes. I'm obsessed with the setting of my dining room table. NO--NOT IN AN AUNT SANDY KIND OF WAY!! I'm not one for tablescapes. However, I am obsessed with table linens. I have my favorite tablecloths...and napkins....and placemats...and chargers...and dishes and silverware.

I love to dress the table on a daily basis. There is something so nice and comforting to me about leaving for work in the morning and seeing my dining room table at the ready for dining when I return.

Many of my table cloths have a history....and I love getting great ones on sale...you can find nice ones anywhere from e-bay to William Sonoma...Walmart to Bloomies...Goodwill to garage sales..vintage is fun....and it goes on and on and on..

So...tell me please...how's your table? Is it ready for Chowhound meals?

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  1. I, too, love a beautifully dressed table. I have tons of table linens, inherited from everyone, and many purchased by me. I love my old favorites - Christmas wouldn't be the same without Nanny's red embroidered table cover, or Easter without the green one. Outdoor picnics are always the white with cross stitch pink roses. Many of my things have been handed down for so long, you can barely make out the original colors anymore. I love the feeling of setting my table with the same cloths my grandmother's mother used.

    On the other hand, I cannot resist the treat of brand new, stain free linens. Clean, crisp napkins make me happy. I have learned the hard way, though, never to set the table in advance. It seems the cat likes them as well, and will not pass up the chance to nap in the middle of the table.

    1. Kind of.

      I bought some new dinnerware (Thomas O'Brien's Tiago by Reed & Barton, in blue), but I don't like the flatware. Not because of the way it looks, but because the bowls on the spoons are so deep and narrow, they don't fit in my mouth properly. I've been trying out different flatware sets on the table, but I haven't really found anything for the normal mouth that I like better.

      Thankfully, I only bought one set of the flatware.

      1. I love using my wooden placemats. They're connected tiles of light wood squares reversible to a darker wood. My plates have a light blue and silver pattern and I just love the finished look of the placemats and dishes on the table.

        2 Replies
        1. re: cheesecake17

          I've been eyeing some wooden placemats. I think they would be great for summer and I can also take them to the table on our desk--they seem sturdy, but yet nice and neat looking.

          1. re: jarona

            I'm also a fan of wooden placemats. Not so big on tablecloths, but I love a beautiful set of natural placements in a variety of shades and styles!

        2. I have a very vivid memory of visiting my college roommate's parents house and seeing a beautiful dining room table set up for our dinner. I felt so special that her mom took the time to make it pretty. My owm mother never cooked and certainly never would have given any thought to the table.

          I don't do anything to my table at home but I keep the table at our weekend cottage "dressed" (I have no explaination as to why one table over the other)

          I am also a sucker for table cloths. I have several passed down to me that survived WWII and I just love them, the thickness, the texture, the design (my family's city of origin was pretty much destroyed and I wish I knew how so many fantastic table cloths and napkins survived)

          I have been picking up seasonal table cloths as they catch my eye. I like to add seasonal things from the outdoors to the table, like a platter of various pine cones around Christmas, to the scene.

          I was surprised how much my husband likes seeing the table all done up. In the first 15 years together, he never once mentioned having an opinion on table dressing.

          1. Nice to know l am not alone.
            Tablecloth-Black died linen from Portes de Vanves marches au puce in Paris

            Chargers-Armetale giants, alloy no pattern or markers

            Dishes-Small Japanese pottery, white with black 'truffle' marks with circular pattern in porcelain

            Water goblets-Antique Confiture glasses, France, all slightly different

            Wine glasses-Alsace white glasses that have the best deep bong when clinked, with a big 'T' on them as came from Troisgros.

            Cutlery-Antique ivory handled Laguiole knives
            Grand Baroque forks/spoons

            Knife rests-Plugs from large conch, impossible to describe but awesome to look at

            Centerpiece-Antique huge tripe pot of pottery from Normandy.

            On the otherhand, my bed has just a coverlet

            1 Reply
            1. re: Delucacheesemonger

              Wow! Your table sounds great! I can't wait for June..going back to France and will be making some purchases to get my table dressed to remind me of Province!

            2. I've had little luck getting my dining room table to fit into a tux. Any tips?

              1 Reply
              1. I have a big collection of Pimpernel Mats for my (daily eats) smaller table and like to have themes for dinner with the mats. It's a quick change from night to night. Very fun.

                My dining table is more formal and I always "dress" it with tablecloths and runners. I just don't think I could get that one dressed every night...too busy....it's hard enough to dress myself daily right now :)

                1. Mine is dressed, but relatively casually (I have a bit of an Anthropologie vibe going on in my apartment). I have a floral tablecloth and a bunch of different place mats, and I've got napkins that change with the seasons. In the center of the table I have a vintage brass candelabra (I turn off the overhead lights and light the candles at dinner time); I usually place the wine for the night in the center of the table as well. I have an owl trivet, which works very well for one-dish meals.

                  Since I live alone, I don't keep the table set all the time (the cats would probably just knock over everything anyway). I do set it up when I'm expecting company, which is rather often. I'm particularly fond of my Laguiole steak knives, and I'm planning to start a collection of vintage silverware.

                  As kind of a tangental note, I've been surprised to find that many of my (20-something) friends either do not eat at their table, or don't even own one. It's strange to be invited over for dinner only to end up with a plate on my lap in front of the television!

                  1 Reply
                  1. re: caseyjo

                    i am a 20-something who doesn't own a table - instead we put placemats and coasters down on our coffee table. with a small apartment in boston, we're pretty limited with furniture options. however, we often do host dinners and wine nights, and no one seems to mind!

                  2. If I put a tablecloth on the cats discover it in minutes. Then one gets under it and pulls on the edge, another launches an attack on the moving tablecloth and then someone's claw gets caught in the cloth and before you know it I find it lying in the hall with a cat hiding under it.

                    1. I was just thinking the same thing - I can't wait for spring so I can bust out my collection of vintage Vera Neumann table linens. They're in all kinds of bright, vernal colors, and a lot less formal than the burgundy-and-gold look from Thanksgiving and Christmas. I don't have complete sets of anything, so the mix-and-match look adds to the informality, along with a rustic pottery vase of daffodils, forsythia, lilacs and whatever's blooming.

                      I find them at garage sales and antique shops once in a while. A good soak in Oxy Clean and some spot treatments with hydrogen peroxide usually get out any stains.

                      1. Our table is dressed in junk! It's a dumping ground for 'stuff' because we don't actually use it except for company. I've got a couple of nice tablecloths, napkins etc, but I don't get to use them very often.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: Kajikit

                          I use my pretty cloth napkins folded up into squares under a vase of flowers or a display bowl. The napkin shows and the piece doesn't scratch or ruin my wood dining table or glass coffee table.

                        2. What a lovely post, jarona! To answer your question, yes, I have a table with clothes on. Right now it's got a black, maroon and gold embroidered tablecloth on it, (vaguely Asian design) and the napkins I use with it are maroon. The tableware is black, and the flatware's a bamboo silver pattern. Black wire-wrapped fruit basket in the center, right now filled with pears and apples and walnuts.
                          I do collect linens and prefer to mix and match rather than buy sets. Tag sales, estate sales, and flea markets are my best finder's spots. During spring it takes a decidedly lighter turn; generally an openwork lace cloth over a colored bottomcloth, and generally a print runner that contrasts with the bottom cloth. Plateware for that season is mix/match flowered plates of any kind; ditto colored tumblers. I just really like that sorta rustic thing.
                          When Summer comes, I'll strip the table and either use bright placemats or a couple of x-crossed runners. I always like to have a low floral centerpiece or a big platter instead of the fruitbowl. Dinner service is plain white industrial ware, but interestingly shaped stuff, and I piece out with milk glass and colored glass to accent.

                          1. Always. My dining room table is definitely part of all seasonal decor. It currently has a white linen and lace cloth my parents bought on a trip to Ireland, green placemats and napkins, my circa 1928 silver, somewhat funky green Lenox goblets and a large Beleek planter in the center full of fruit. (Yes, St. Patty's day is coming. Soon it will move to the Easter palette of yellow and purple.)

                            1. I have a few Provencal cotton tablecloths I rotate and I also use a bright green sarong with all kinds of colors and gold printing on it that was brought back as a gift from Bali as a tablecloth - it works amazingly well with our usual dinnerware that is also highly patterned on the rim in much the same colors. Have a red cloth for Christmas. Have some of my mom's including one with a strawberry design from the '50s I love.
                              Had some really nice (laminated) placemats with a Chinese wistaria painting on them that have bitten the dust from overuse. Thought they were replaceable but they aren't. Sigh.