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Five ways to use a table runner

Does anyone else wonder how to use table runners? 

I have to admit I was very unsure of table runners when I started importing our beautiful linen tablecloths from Florence about a year ago. Perhaps it's because I live in an apartment with a relatively small round table.

However, several clients asked if we stocked them, so I included a handful of different designs in my last shipment from Italy. They were all sold almost before I could list them in the store. 

This enthusiasm prompted me to revisit my initial hesitation, and I have since come to appreciate their usefulness and the cheerful colour they can bring to a room.

I started looking online and found hundreds of recommendations for different ways to use table runners, some of which were a bit kooky. I've listed five of the most useful styles for all the table runner sceptics. And for those who already are enthusiasts, have a look at the new designs here.

Linen table runner with Italian design of lemon trees

5 ways to use a table runner

1. Lengthwise with a tablecloth. 
To me, this seems the most traditional way of using a table runner. Choose a tablecloth in a plain colour and place a patterned table runner (like our linen ones) lengthwise down the centre of the table. This arrangement will define a space for centrepieces, serving dishes, candles etc. along the middle of the table  

2. Lengthwise without a tablecloth.  
You can use a table runner without a cloth underneath to create either quite a formal setting or a casual setting. 

If you have a reasonably formal dining table, set it with a decorative table runner down the centre and use coordinating linen placemats and napkins, candles, a vase of flowers, and crystal glasses. You have a table ready for a lovely formal dinner party. 

On the other hand, use a table runner on your rustic outdoor table, with casual decorations, and you can set the scene for a chic and relaxed lunch al fresco.

3. To decorate the dining table when not in use. 
If you prefer not to dress your table with a tablecloth between meals, you could use a table runner to add a decorative element to the room. Place a vase of flowers or an ornamental plate or bowl in the centre of the table.  

Italian linen table runners with sunflower design

4. Across the table for a more casual setting. 
Use two or more table runners across the table to define the place settings. You can set the crockery, cutlery and glassware directly onto the table runner or combine with a placemat. 

5. Use a table runner on a buffet or grazing table. 
If you're entertaining and providing a buffet or grazing table, a table runner can be a great way of decorating these tables. 

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