How To Decorate With Table Runners

Table runners are a classy way to add texture and color to your tablescape. Unlike standard tablecloths, decorating with a table runner is stylish, versatile, and practical. These settings will transform every meal into a pleasant gathering. According to Premier Table Linens, lengthy and narrow fabric pieces were popular in the Middle Ages when aristocrats wanted to protect their dining room tablecloths from spills and smears. These long pieces of cloth ran along with the tablecloth from end to end.

Centuries later, this medieval trend has become an essential part of the modern table. If you want to add a table runner to your dining setup, there are plenty of options. From simple linen to rustic burlap, table runners match any theme or season. However, focus on simplicity and practicality to avoid getting overwhelmed. Let your creativity run wild by choosing an eye-catching design that fits the rest of the home's decor. To help you out on this table-setting journey, we've rounded up some unique ways to decorate with table runners.

Select versatile green or blue table runners

Pastel green table runners are ideal for any occasion, including Easter. They work well with various home settings since green complements white, brown, gold, and gray. If you choose a lighter shade, match the cloth to glassware, plates, and decorations. Green infuses diners with energy, positive vibes, and joy. Alternatively, any shade of blue will achieve the same effect. According to 99designs, a turquoise or azure table runner will stimulate a laidback atmosphere. Apart from instilling a feeling of calm, blue hues match most silverware and crockery.

The first and most straightforward choice would be plain cloth with no patterns. This choice will allow the rest of your table decor to shine. For example, a cotton mint runner is a perfect choice for casual and formal events throughout the year. For a contemporary look, combine patterned table runners with minimalist white dishes. You can also pick stripes and checks. Cotton is a must due to its classic style and easy maintenance. Optimal for daily use, standard green or blue runners can dress up any table elegantly.

Create a homemade burlap runner

Does your home have a rustic feel? If yes, spread the laid-back vibes to your dining room table with a homemade burlap runner. According to Decoratorist, table runners made of natural burlap make your dining room feel relaxed and charming. The material is reminiscent of the countryside. Burlap fabrics are budget-friendly, versatile, and the perfect fall decoration for a rustic-themed home. Thanks to the neutral brown or beige color, burlap makes a sophisticated add-on under your tableware.

Of course, you can always spruce up plain burlap with elegant and colorful embroidery or add a white ruffle on the sides. Alternatively, you can use twine and yarn to create a fringed edge. If this is too much for you, go with a no-sew stenciled option (via DIYS). In addition to Halloween and Thanksgiving, burlap displays can adorn tables year-round if they fit in with the rest of your decor.

Shine bright with a metallic design

Go for the gold and decorate your dining room table with a metallic table runner. This bold option will fill your dining room with glamour. However, it's vital to use the perfect amount of metallic design to make the eating spot glisten with style. You will also want to ensure the color isn't too flashy or forceful and avoid a kitschy look.

According to HGTV, the metallic decor is ideal for special occasions like birthday parties or anniversaries. In most cases, a gold runner can transform the event into a mesmerizing and memorable feast. If you prefer metallic touches that aren't too distracting, try out a DIY project (via Lovely Indeed). You can learn how to DIY a decent gold brushstroke table runner in just 15 minutes. All you need for the DIY project is an iron, a paintbrush, scissors, canvas fabric, gold foil, and adhesive.

Show off your sweet side with vintage lace

Want to find an alternative to ordinary table runners? Opt for a lace runner. In addition to dining room tables, antique lace is a great way to dress up a console table. This material adds a sweet, Victorian touch to your interiors. Since lace comes mostly in neutral shades, it works well as a grounding element. Add bright accents like napkins, candles, or ornaments on top for a striking effect. Lace runners will make any wedding or Christmas table burst with elegance.

Additionally, lace can soften a farmhouse aesthetic instantly. According to Love Grows Wild, you can tie a loose knot at both ends of the runner for maximum impact. Though it might be challenging to find high-quality pieces on a budget, antique lace runners are worth the cost. You should be able to find some secondhand options that are affordable. Another excellent idea is to craft stitch lace dollies. If you're a creative soul, make some DIY lace dollies (via HGTV).

Choose ivory for a gorgeous centerpiece

Ivory cheesecloth makes the perfect table runner for any occasion. Cheesecloth is a versatile material that comes in multiple colors. Whether you select white, blue, pink, green, brown, peach, or red, you can't go wrong. According to Words are for Writers, cheesecloth creates a lighthearted, airy impression that pairs well with rustic countryside cottages or beach houses. Cheesecloth is an affordable material, so it makes sense to have several matching runners for all the tables and TV stands in your home.

Another benefit of cheesecloth runners is that the ends can be left raw and unfinished. Let the fabric flow naturally in carefree waves around your table. Incorporate a macramé table runner for bohemian style (via The DIY Mommy). All you need is some cotton clothesline and a few macramé knots. Though it takes time and practice, the result is an inviting centerpiece for any gathering. Whether hosting a casual or festive event, macramé is a one-size-fits-all solution.

Think out of the box with kraft paper

Table runners sketched from kraft paper feature a rustic vibe ideal for special events and feasts. Since Kraft paper absorbs spills and oil stains, you don't have to worry about cleaning after the meal. According to Something Turquoise, the best part is that you and everyone else can write on the kraft paper. You can easily personalize each runner and mark the spots reserved for your guests.

Another upside of kraft table runners is the low price tag. A large roll won't cost you more than ten dollars. Since kraft paper is disposable, you can transform every gathering into a unique and impressive journey. You can also use kraft paper to design a fun table runner stamped with polka dots (via Cute Girls Hairstyles). Choose any paint color you like and get busy with the sponge pouncer. Instead of spots, you can choose to draw various geometric shapes or stripes. Get your kids to join in on this fun project.

Go for wrapping paper

Do you want to create an impressive effect with your tablescape without investing big money? Fortunately, folded wrapping paper can save the day. Standard wrapping paper is low-cost and comes in various colors and patterns. Whether checkered or dotted, you have endless options at your fingertips.

Once you find the paper of your dreams, use a ruler and pencil to measure the runner carefully before cutting. It must be long enough to run the length of the entire table. For a more professional look, tuck the wrapping paper under the edges. Then, make the surface as smooth as possible. According to Martha Stewart, you can use wrapping paper with floral prints for a lively tablescape. Alternatively, a few pops of color in the form of stripes can also give your dining table some vigor. For a creative touch, use chalkboard paper (via HGTV). This option allows you to personalize seating spots and makes a fun statement.

DIY vintage book or music sheets

If you're a bookworm or music lover, this table runner idea should be on your list. Using sheets from old books or music pages is a unique way to decorate a table that sees less traffic. It offers a classy and casual look that draws attention. According to Vintage Home Designs, you can glue the pages of an old book to kraft or white freezer paper. Overlap the pages at the ends and use a few layers to get the final product.

Book-inspired runners are perfect for long dining tables. If you are hosting an event for kids, a child's coloring book can do the job. However, keep in mind that paper runners are for one use only. If you want the runner to last for a more extended period, place it on a decorative side table that gets less traffic. In this case, it's worth spending more time to make an elaborate and delicate piece.

Transform table runners into placemats

Another unusual technique to place narrow fabrics across the table is to use two or three instead of one. This way, you get several placemats running vertically or horizontally in front of guests.

If you want two parallel lines, things are more straightforward. However, the second option allows diners sitting opposite each other to connect naturally and get the conversation flow going. In this case, consider repeating the pattern to cover all setting spots.

Besides rectangle tables, this hack appeals to square tables, too. Narrower runners at about 1/4 of the table width are ideal. Also, ensure you pick shorter pieces that hang down like a tablecloth. Interior decorator Michelle Radcliff believes that a 15 to 20cm overhang is best. You don't want lengthy fabric hanging in your guests' laps.

And if you are in doubt, runners also fit round tables. Lay two equally-sized runners and create a cross-like setting to achieve four eating sections. For a unique arrangement, Saffron Marigold suggests placing runners in a "T" shape or using one that runs along the middle.

Add layers of cloth

You've probably seen a tablescape that took your breath away in the past. Whether it was a rustic, effortlessly charming, or formal dinner, layers often make the difference. To get the layered look for yourself, use a high-quality tablecloth for your foundation and place a few runners across the table or one lengthways. The runner must not exceed the length of the tablecloth. For the final touch, arrange matching placemats and napkins on top.

According to SFGate, it's best to look for shades and textures that complement each other. For instance, consider pairing patterned crockery with tablecloths, runners, and napkins in solid colors. This tip gives you the ultimate multi-layered style and a focal point for your favorite plates. Conversely, pick a patterned runner if your tableware is in a single color. Other decorative elements like napkins should be in solid hues. Last, show your creative side by adding a centerpiece or decorations that fit the overall style. Fresh blooms or greenery are perfect if you don't want to exaggerate or overcrowd the table. Several jasmine sprigs or string-tied rosemary twigs will create an inviting yet lovely vibe.

Let greenery run its course

How about incorporating a leafy table runner for a natural statement? Those fed up with conventional fabrics can arrange a display of fresh leaves and branches on their tables. Natural table runners work for every season and are the perfect add-ons for romantic gatherings. Lush greenery will bring fresh air to your dining spot in spring and summertime. In the autumn, use multi-colored fallen leaves for a magical vibe.

According to Driven for Decor, winter-inspired runners are an extraordinary way to dress up a table. Just head outside and gather pinecones, greenery, and fruit (berries, pomegranates, or citrus fruits). Once you combine everything to your taste, place the arrangement on the table or add fabric underneath for contrast. Place a few candles, and there you go; you have a flawless, recyclable table runner! Undoubtedly, adding foliage to your interiors brings life and richness to your place. Another great idea is to replace the traditional table runner with a terrarium (A Beautiful Mess).

Use naked branches as a centerpiece

Another alternative for a life-like, rustic centerpiece is to create a tree branch arrangement. If you want to steer away from standard cloth runners, go for an organic touch. To start, make an extra-long line of twigs that runs down the center of the dining table. You can probably scavenge for twigs in the backyard. Once you collect the branches, look for accents like candles and ribbons for the assembly. According to HGTV, rustic twig table runners with a few faux flowers or greenery glued to the branches are a vibrant addition to any table.

There are also other ways to make a natural statement. For example, you could upcycle an entire Christmas tree into a table runner (via Compost and Cava). Using twigs, decorative beads, simple tools, and natural fiber twine, you can give your beloved tree new life for the spring months.

Decorate with flowers or succulents

Do you want your table decorated all year round without the fuss of table runners? Opt for a floral or succulent arrangement in the middle of the table. You can pick any flower, fruit, or plant to get a stylish look. The first hack includes flower vases arranged along the centerline of the table. Whether you choose regular containers or fancier vases, it will add a sophisticated accent. The table setting can be elegant or cozy, depending on your flowers. Pick roses, orchids, or tulips for more formal occasions. For more casual events, select daisies or dandelions. According to Afloral, you can use preserved blooms to make a unique table garland.

If you aren't keen on flowers, don't worry. You can also create a succulent arrangement (My Sweet Savanah ). First, you'll need to get various faux succulents, foam, blocks, Spanish moss, and a long planter. In a couple of minutes, you will be able to make a durable and dramatic centerpiece for your table. Go for fake succulents or flowers if you don't have a green thumb or are afraid of maintaining actual plants. Even if your place is darker than usual, succulents require almost no care and can survive in unfavorable environments.

Get festive with holiday-themed arrangements

Depending on the time of the year, you can decorate your table setting to add some festive cheer. Start with spring-inspired table runners and then finish off with pumpkin-themed decor. During the summer, spread a runner displaying marine life or nautical maps. With table runners, the decor options are endless.

For an Easter-themed runner, opt for pastel colors. In addition to brightening up the place, pastel hues like lime, mint, and lilac add a festive touch. According to Make It Do, you can create a table runner from pieces of pastel fabric. If you're considering a matching table runner for Halloween and Thanksgiving, use some orange, yellow, and brown details. While the creative part is up to you, pumpkins are an essential element of fall table runners. 

Finally, use freshly-cut greenery or a Christmas or winter holiday-themed table runner (via Home is Where the Boat Is). Evergreens add natural accents and fresh fragrances for the winter holidays. Consider evergreens, juniper, and magnolia leaves for the base and some pinecones and berries for the upper layer. We suggest you glue the arrangement to wax paper to keep sap and needles off the wooden surface or the underlying tablecloth.