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Placemats - Do you really need them?

The first thing we usually notice when being seated at a table (could be a restaurant or maybe even a friend’s place for dinner) is the tableware and the reason is quite simple actually - the food hasn’t been served yet.

“First impressions last long” – a nice table setting sets the tone and expectations of the dining experience.

A nice, refined table setting plays a pivotal role in making the guests as well as the occasion feel extra special, inviting and attractive. A tablescape is never complete without the presence of placemats and what makes it stand out is when it complements the decor of the dining space.

Placemats have been quite popular and been in use for ages for their high utility and elegance. Most homes use placemats as a small protective mat that goes on the dining table. But with some smart choices, they can be an extension of your decor and can contribute to the overall look and feel of your dining space.


At the end of the day all we want is a dining table that looks good and maintained well, as it's a place where we not only have our meals, but could double up as a place to entertain, work table, activities with kids, etc. To ensure our table stays in good condition, using placemats is not a bad idea and here’s why:

  • It serves as a protective layer for your table – helps manage spills, scratches, water marks, and heat.

  • They help visually organize a dining table and serve as a cue for guests regarding seating.

  • Provide a designated space for dishes and cutlery to be displayed.

  • Meal times become mess-free and noise-free

  • Add an aesthetic touch to your table by making the dishes and crockery stand out.

Placemats are a necessity in most households given they are easy to maintain, easy to store, saves up on cleaning time, inexpensive and helps immensely in maintaining the furniture.

Pic Courtesy: Jasleen Singh & Radhika


Besides being a useful accessory, placemats are an opportunity for you to add that personal touch and introduce colour and perhaps an interesting pattern to elevate your dining space/experience.

The choice is plenty as placemats come in a variety of shapes, materials, colours and patterns.

Materials – you can choose from cotton to linen to wood, bamboo, vinyl.

Size - The size of the placemat is dependent on the size of your table and comes in varied shapes such as round, square or rectangle. Ideally the placemat should be broad and wide enough to hold crockery and cutlery of a person. The most common placemat size is 33 * 45cm.

Fabric & Colour - When choosing a placemat, take into account two key aspects - the colour of the table/tablecloth and the colour theme of the dining space. It really needs to tie in with the rest of the space and bring harmony to the space. Stick with colours that compliment your table/table cloth and supplementing it with stunning patterns like printed, floral or hand-woven can really add that oomph factor to the overall space.

In a more formal setting, I would recommend you choose a plain coloured fabric or one with a distinct edging. For an informal setting, bright and bold patterns are a great choice.

Placemats are easy to maintain except for the fabric mats which should be regularly washed and ironed to get a clean and hygienic look. Keeping 2-3 sets of placemats for everyday use and special occasions is essential.

Pic Courtesy: Radhika Shenoy & Jasleen Singh


Using placemats alongside tablecloths is a matter of personal taste and there is no hard and fast rule about it to be honest. Setting a table that is beautiful and aesthetically appealing is an art form. Using a tablecloth or a placemat or both depends solely on the look you want to achieve and the kind of table you have. Placemats are functional and versatile and work well in an informal setting whereas for a formal setup a tablecloth along with a placemat enhances the look of the table. Either way it makes the dining room look visually appealing and extra stylish.

Here are some of the points to consider of how we could use both:

  • Dress the table: If you are using placemats on top of a tablecloth, place the mat at sufficient distance from each so it looks visually appealing and guests are comfortably seated at the table.

  • Balance the colour palette: Here you need to consider how the texture and colour will impact the choice of placemats and tablecloth you choose. Create visual interest by picking a tablecloth and placemat that belong to the same colour family, so that they unify and complement each other.

  • Layer it up: Adding more layers to your table not only gives it added protection from damages such as spills, scratches and heat but elevates and brings together the whole dining experience.

  • Add a table runner: One could use a table runner too instead of a tablecloth or could use all three but should be careful to choose colours within the same colour palette. It's an added interest to the guest and works beautifully in a formal setting or special occasions.

Pic Courtesy: Jonali Khargharia

In closing, we hope that reading this article has given you a better understanding of how to use placemats – either standalone or as a combination with other table linen.



Deepthi Velkur (@deepthi9844) is a Bangalore-based freelance digital content writer and mom to a busy 10-year old. Her writing credits include health and fitness magazines, running stories, and wedding planning articles. While redecorating her apartment she fell in love with home styling and now marries her love for home decor with writing.


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