Some people still like to use a tablecloth every day. You might like them for convenience sake (keeping the table clean) as much as the way they look, or the slightly more formal feel they bring to mealtimes. For other people, dressing the table is more something they do on special occasions, or at important times of year like Christmas. Day to day, a bare table feels more relaxed, while a tablecloth feels natural for celebrations, when you’re adding more layers of decoration.
It’s fine to think of tablecloths in terms of how “special” you want your dining table to be, but there are other ways to look at them too. For example, they can completely change the character of the room from season to season, or from day to night.
Think of them like the other textiles in your room: a fresh, white linen lifts a space in summer, or brightens a dark corner. In winter, a thicker, softer fabric or a darker toned one makes for cosier dining (and makes heartier dishes seem heartier). You probably don’t want a textile with a nap or pile that collects spills, but a heavy linen does the job beautifully (take a look at our Emily tablecloth).
As with curtains or a sofa, your choice of tablecloth fabric can create subtle shifts in mood. This is another reason we love linen on a table – its soft drape and natural crumples make any space feel instantly relaxed. And that’s one thing a dining table should always be, however big the occasion – it is, after all, a place for sitting down with friends and family, talking and being at ease.