Indigo Blue Linen Placemat Set

How to Use Table Linens to Set a Table for Any Occasion

From sophisticated soirees to early morning breakfasts with the family, countless precious memories are made while sitting around the table. Every tabletop detail counts, from your favorite salt and pepper shakers to your dinner plates—but no table setting would be complete without luxurious and beautiful table linens. Live the elegant life you deserve and learn how to set a cohesive table. 

The Importance of Setting the Table

Ivory Linen Table Runner on Table with Flowers

Taking the time to set the table sets the mood for your dining experience. Adding your favorite linen tablecloths and napkins instantly elevates everyday meals and formal occasions alike, creating a welcoming atmosphere for you and your guests. Your memories deserve a dreamy background, and a thoughtfully laid-out table setting makes that possible.

Selecting your perfect table linens can help you curate your own unique look. Whether you’re matching your linen tablecloth to your flowing linen curtains for a complete dining room aesthetic or are content with rolling simple linen napkins on an exposed wood table, every layer is a design choice. 

Essential Table Linens

Setting a coordinated table is easy when you have the right pieces! Stocking up on these main must-have table linens will help you achieve the look you want for any occasion:

Tablecloths: generally, linen tablecloths cover the entire tabletop, hanging down the sides

Napkins: to be set out at each place setting for individual use during a meal

Placemats: smaller table linens used as a base layer for dinnerware at each seat

Table runners: long, thinner table linen that stretches across the center of a table—often used as an alternative for a linen tablecloth 

Why Choose Linen?

Linen is the preferred material for table linens—and not just because it’s already in the phrase! Linen is easy to care for and offers an eternally luxurious look and a soft-to-the-touch feel. The fabric’s natural temperature-regulating abilities also keep your meal warm and your table protected! With endless benefits to linen, why wouldn’t you invest in premium, flax-spun table linens?

Which Table Linens to Use for Each Type of Occasion

Ivory Linen Tablecloth

Gatherings can be separated into three categories: basic, casual, and formal. Inspiration is personal, so there are no hard and fast rules—but we’ve gathered suggestions for which table linens to use for each level:  

Setting a Quick, Basic Table

Basic table settings are the most paired down of the three kinds, generally used for everyday meals and laid-back occasions. For a quick snack or family lunch, you only need a few linen napkins laid out around the table. If you want to go one step further, you can set out matching placemats.

Create an Elevated Casual Table Setting

Casual table settings are perfect for spontaneous parties, simple birthdays, or intimate dinner parties—so any combination of table linens is fair game! In general, start by setting out linen napkins and placemats at each place setting. Lay out a table runner in the center to house your delectable recipes and serving dishes. 

Design a Sophisticated Formal Tablescape

Table linens are essential for decorating for a celebration or special occasion gathering—and layers are key. Don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops by placing a long ivory linen tablecloth atop the table, complete with linen napkins and placemats, and even a table runner for added depth and texture

5 Tips for Tying Table Linens Together

Once you’ve gathered a stylish table linen collection, you’re set for hosting any event! It’s time to unlock your inner designer and experiment with linen tablecloths and napkins to your heart’s content. Everyone deserves a table setting they love, and with these five tips, you can achieve your design goals:

Tip #1: Create a Color Palette

With a wide variety of hues to choose from, you can create endless table linen color combinations to suit any table setting. The color palette of your home is an incredibly personal style choice, but whether you prefer an earth tone, a minimalist white look, or a bright and colorful bohemian aesthetic, table linens can make that possible.

Tip #2: Match the Dinnerware

If you’re in a pinch, match your linen tablecloth and linen napkins to the colors and patterns of your dishes. Using an accent color from your China will help your dishes pop and pull the entire table setting together every time. If all else fails—white table linens set a serene scene for any serveware and dinnerware pieces!

Tip #3: Experiment with Layering 

Layering can make a world of difference with table linens. For a more maximalist look, layer to your heart’s content, placing a table runner on top of a linen tablecloth to create visual depth and texture. For a simple and timeless style, the fewer layers, the better. Play around with different numbers of layers and mix and match colors to find a look you love. 

Tip #4: Play with the Length of a Linen Tablecloth

The length of your tablecloth can make or break the look of a table setting. As you measure your table for the perfect fit, plan to have 6-10 inches hanging off each side for an everyday table. For a more dramatic look for luxurious formal events, plan for 30+ inches so the ends brush the floor.

Tip #5: Learn a Linen Napkin Fold

Lilac Linen Plain Napkin Set

Linen napkins may be the smallest table linen on the table, but don’t underestimate their styling abilities! Learning a fun and unique napkin fold can take your table setting from humdrum to unforgettable in an instant. A simple set of lilac linen napkins rolled up with silverware can work for large buffet gatherings or grab-and-go breakfasts with the family, but there’s always a time and place for a creative fold. Napkins are also a great way to add a pop of color to your tablescape.

Types of Linen Napkin Folds:

Whether you prefer a white linen tablecloth that never goes out of style or adore pairing up bold and beautiful linen napkin colors for each meal, one thing is certain—table linens set the mood for any occasion. Start building up your personal collection to reflect your style, unleash your inner designer, and create a table setting you and your loved ones will never forget. 

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