How to use placemats: ultimate style guide

How to use placemats

Placemats are a popular element of table décor. Both aesthetic and functional, these great alternatives to tablecloths add a chic, festive and colourful touch to the daily table. You use your table three times a day. Might as well make it pretty and inspiring, right?

A set of table mats is enough to completely transform the atmosphere of a room. Whether they’re made of fabric, plastic or coated cotton, placemats are an affordable way to decorate your interior while keeping your table safe from stains and scratches.

What to consider when choosing placemats

Where to start? Here are some things to consider when searching for the ideal table mat. 

The style of your room

Think about the room where you use your placemats. What are the dominant colours of your walls, chairs and floor?

The style of your table

Is it a functional kitchen table? An ultra-modern contemporary look, a rustic farmhouse feel or an elegant vintage antique?

Size matters

Will you use them on an expansive rectangle table where large placemats will feel at home? Or do you need smaller placemats to fit on a small or round table?

How will they be used

Consider who is going to use the placemats and how often. Are they for daily family use or are you buying them for more formal occasions?

Placemats style guide

What is the best placemat material?

If you ask anyone how to use placemats, the first thing that comes to mind is daily life use and informal events. However, you can also use them for more formal dining.

Choosing the right placemats for the right setting will make sure they last. There are so many options, but which is best? There are too many choices! Plastic, thick woven cotton or coated cotton? Let’s dive in.

Plastic placemats are perfect for family meals. They come in all different shapes and colours, with lovely pictures and messages that will brighten your day. Some of our favourites are “Le Petit Prince” placemats, so exotic with their quotes from the famous book, in French. 

For a casual dinner, you might choose more sophisticated “French cats” theme. They’re so cute and romantic with their Eiffel Tower or village atmosphere in the background. Really easy maintenance, but make sure they’re nice and dry before you stack them up in your cupboard to keep them fresh and tidy.

Acrylic coated placemats are amazing, so practical and versatile. They can be used for everyday meals and also make a lovely décor for informal dinner parties. They come in so many different colours and patterns, classic to colourful, always with a beautiful finish.

And they’re so easy to maintain. Just wipe them down with a damp cloth after meals and all stains will disappear. Need to wash them? Put them in the washing-machine at a low temperature setting and quickly dry on a line. You can even iron them on the reverse side.

Woven placemats. For a more elegant table setting, choose larger, stylish placemats. A great example is the “Tissus-Tosselli” collection, inspired by beautiful Mediterranean landscape and nature. Traditionally made in Provence, in the South of France, you’ll love their soft colours and discreet pastel patterns.

These tapestry style placemats are wash well and are easy to maintain. Their secret is in the making: these placemats are woven with the best quality coloured threads, which also prevents their colours from fading, even if you use them on a regular basis.

How to position your placemats

Invest in a set of large quality placemats and position them under each guest plate, not too close to one another. If you have a dark wooden table, lighter tones work well for the placemats. You will also need napkins in plain or in a brighter colour than the placemats. Just make sure the whole decoration remains in the same colour range.

An elegant option is to add a long table runner on your table. Choose either plain or a matching pattern. Check it’s not too wide as you want to avoid overlapping with the placemats. Add a floral or seasonal composition in the middle of your runner to complete your table décor.

There is a third, even more sophisticated option for larger tables. Use a set of two or three identical table runners (one runner for each pair of guests facing each other) and add two matching placemats at each end of the table.

Style tips for placemats 

  • Choose your placemats according to seasonal colours and context: quirky plastic designs for lunch with the grandkids, natural floral placemats for an afternoon tea in the garden, coated placemats for a messy catch up with wine spilling friends.
  • To complete the look, make sure you have matching napkins. Paper ones are fine for informal lunches. When using your placemats as a feature on your dinner table, preferably choose elegant linen or cotton napkins. Select one (or maximum two) plain colours that will highlight at least one of your placemat colours.
  • If you decide to use both a tablecloth and placemats, it’s best to use either plain placemats on a patterned tablecloth or patterned placemats on a plain tablecloth. In both cases, complete your table décor with plain colour napkins. You might want to avoid putting placemats on a tablecloth for a formal dinner. Some guests may think you don’t trust them with your precious tablecloth and could be a little bit offended J.

Placemats vs Tablecloth

Placemats are perfect for those times when there are only one or two people dining. No need to pull out the big tablecloth. Put the placemats on the table and you’re all set. Ideal if you just want a quick cuppa and a biscuit too.

When you own a really beautiful antique or designer table, you don’t necessarily want to hide it under a tablecloth. If you want everyone, including yourself, to be able to admire it. This  is where placemats shine. You can keep your table on show and still protect the surface.

Can we help?

Do you need advice to choose the right placemats for your home? We can help. Visit our pop-up shop to see all the placemat options for yourself or contact us to chat through the options. We’d love to help.

One thought on “How to use placemats: ultimate style guide

  1. Judy Morris says:

    Thank you Isabelle. I have a beautiful set of French Affair woven tapestry placemats, And you are absolutely correct; we use our table often, so why not dress it with style more often! Make every meal an occasion. 😁

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