what is the purpose of a tablecloth? - Page 2 - Mothering Forums

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#31 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 04:59 PM
 
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I have a lovely old table and want to protect it. We always use a cloth or placemats when we eat. A lot of the time I keep a cloth on it anyway because a few months ago, we had guests and since we weren't eating, the table was uncovered. One of the guests put his water glass on the table and it left a permanent ring. I plan to use a heavy duty wax soon, which will protect it better, but in the meantime, it stays covered with a pretty vintage cloth.

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#32 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 04:59 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by Monarchgrrl View Post
I was just watching a show on the History Channel this weekend about the history of sex. They said that tablecloths were invented because in the Victorian era (and earlier) women's legs were considered the sexiest body part, so they were always covered. They said that "even a glimpse of an ankle could send men into a frenzy". They didn't want men turned on even by ornate, curvy table legs, so that is why they started using tablecloths. Funny, huh?

I'll never look at tablecloths the same way again.
that's hilarious! who'd a thunk it? thanks for all the great responses.
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#33 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 05:20 PM
 
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Well my reason is different from all the above.. we have a wood table with an extension.. so the right half pulls out from the left half.. this leaves a crack in the middle that gets jam and all kinds of nifty things stuck in there.. it is difficult to pull apart (I actually avoid it as much as possible), so I would rather have the tablecloth over the top to avoid things getting stuck inside it than having to deal with pulling the table apart and cleaning the sides of the edges..

we used to be tablecloth free but now are not.. it is far less work in the long run.
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#34 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 05:56 PM
 
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I used placemats until recently, but got tired of having to wipe up the table around and under them. Now I have a tablecloth, because it protects the table and its sooo easy to just fold up and throw in the wash instead of scrubbing dried-on crud off the wood

Plus, it adds color and interest to our rather boring dining room.
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#35 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 06:07 PM
 
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Color, texture, decoration, and to hide an ugly table. I used to have a very pretty oil cloth table cover that my mom had bought in France. It was easy to wipe clean and was so pretty!


I put a lace tablecloth on during all holiday dinners. I think it really dresses up a table.

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#36 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 06:20 PM
 
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I throw it on when I have dinner guests and I don't want to feel that I need to scrub out the crevices between the table leaves. I mean, the table is clean, and I do scrub them out once a week, but it always seems like right before dinner the kids manage to sprinkle them with cracker crumbs or whatever and I just don't want to deal with it.
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#37 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 06:28 PM
 
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From my experience table cloths are solely to provide a nice sliding surface for my cats when the run and jump on the kitchen table.

Right now we don't even HAVE a kitchen table, but if we did we wouldn't use one except at holiday meals if we were having company.
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#38 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 06:43 PM
 
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OMG! What a revelation!! a little over a year ago, Mr Toona was trying his hand at crafting and burned a big scorchy ugly mark on the table. It just looks blah, and I"m not one to really fret over looks.

Why did I never think of a tablecloth to cover it? Seriously.

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#39 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 06:45 PM
 
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I don't like them because they don't look or feel clean to me. The kids often pull on them and make them messy, and they also do their homework at the table--and writing in pencil on cloth is annoying.

We have a beautiful dining table that we bought 5 years ago from Ethan Allen, so I protect it with a table topper. I bought mine from Ebay from a company that makes them in any shade of woodgrain. It isn't "real" wood--it is more of a pressed wood with a half inch pad under it that protects the real wood and doesn't slide around. It is in two pieces that latch together, and I can scrub it down with Fantastic or any other kind of cleaner and it looks perfect. Cups don't leave rings, either. It is actually one of the best things I have ever gotten for the house.

Here is what they look like:
http://www.prestigetablepads.com/
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#40 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 08:39 PM
 
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My mom thinks it's to protect the table.
But then you can't SEE the beautiful table.
SO what's the point?

I don't like tablecloths and I don't use one.
I don't like writing on them, they feel icky to me and they seem to get in my way a lot.

If I had the money I would get a butcherblock table (to match my countertop) they look pretty as they age, even if you burn them, and you can sand light scratches out if you like. Maybe not everyone else thinks the way I do though. I don't understand how people are getting cup rings on their dining room table. I haven't got a single water spot on my countertop right next to the sink and we leave dirty dishes on it. If you clear the table after you eat how are you getting cup rings??

I also like glass tables. We borrowed one for a year. I know others don't like them though.
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#41 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 09:13 PM
 
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I also like glass tables. We borrowed one for a year. I know others don't like them though.
I think glass tables look great, although I do prefer wood. However, a glass table and ds2 sounds like really, really, really bad combination - I have no words for how bad.

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#42 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 11:36 PM
 
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A tablecloth is to put on a table and make it look fancy at Thanksgiving or Christmas-- preferably your great-great-grandmother's tablecloth-- and have people spill wine and gravy on it, and then spend many hours drying to get the stains out so it can all be repeated next year.

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#43 of 60 Old 02-20-2009, 11:50 PM
 
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I like pretty table linens. Sometimes I use a tablecloth, sometimes placemats and napkins, but I try to set the table nicely for dinner. It just makes me happier about the meal.

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#44 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 10:00 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Monarchgrrl View Post
I was just watching a show on the History Channel this weekend about the history of sex. They said that tablecloths were invented because in the Victorian era (and earlier) women's legs were considered the sexiest body part, so they were always covered. They said that "even a glimpse of an ankle could send men into a frenzy". They didn't want men turned on even by ornate, curvy table legs, so that is why they started using tablecloths. Funny, huh?

I'll never look at tablecloths the same way again.
Now i know why I get so hot and bothered when pass furniture stores windows with all those naked tables in plain view!! I knew there had to be a reason!


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#45 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 11:32 AM
 
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I am wondering why those that have nice tables cover them up to 'protect' them. What is the point of having a nice table if you can't see it?
With seven kids, it wouldn't have stayed a nice table (my mom's table). 40 years and 11 grandkids later, it is still a nice table. She would have the tablecloth off and use placemats for adult dinner parties when she was first married. The tablecloth keeps your options open. But I understand preferring to take the risk and leaving it off.

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#46 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 01:42 PM
 
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We were giving our table for free. It is old and solid. The top needs refinished. I tried using placemats but they wouldn't stay and things were getting spilled on the wood causing more damage. If someone put a cup or a warm dish down it would leave a mark. It is hard to clean right now. I put a vinyl tablecloth on to protect it and put a nicer cloth on top of that. I want to have this table the rest of my life. Eventually I will re-finish it and probably not cover it then.

Prior to this table I had a much marked rickety hand me down table. I knew I wasn't going to keep it forever. I never used a table cloth on that. I was always scraping and scrubbing food off it. It was stained. It didn't matter what anyone did to it really.

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#47 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 01:53 PM
 
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We use a tablecloth when we have company because our table is very old, but I'm really not sure what the use is for it besides the kids mistaking it for a napkin.

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#48 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 02:05 PM
 
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I bought a very nice table a few years ago with a cherry wood top. The kids kept spilling drinks on it so I went and spent $80 on a glass top to protect it. Then when the kids spilled, it would go UNDER the glass and I'd have to lift the glass to clean it and it was such a pain! SO, I went and bought a waterproof table cloth and now when they spill all I have to do it scrub the table cloth to clean the table and I don't have to worry about ruining the wood. It's definitely not an "accessory" because I would rather not have the table cloth, it's purely to protect it and keep it easier to clean!

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#49 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 02:08 PM
 
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I never understood covering a table to protect it (unless it's an antique and really needs preserving) because then you never see it to appreciate it anyway. Dh and I bought a $1000 dining room table when we bought our house. Although we rarely use it (we're the floor sitting for dinner kind of people) I only have it decorated with small place mats and a couple vases with bamboo. If I covered it to protect it from wear and tare I'd never see it... then whats the point?! I also dont' understand the "only for special occasions" scenerio where people only uncover for fancy meals. Unless you're having a fancy meal at least every week, again whats the point? Dd isn't interested in playing with toys on or at the table and would not be allowed to if she did so the biggest threat of damage is out of the way off the bat.

Maybe some people think table clotes are pretty and actually look better than a lovely wood table??? I'd hope not but, ok. I think table clothes belong in the park on picnic tables only, personally.

I assume the only other reason to cover is to cover and ugly table... I could understand that reasoning.

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#50 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 03:26 PM
 
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Originally Posted by harleyhalfmoon View Post
We use a tablecloth when we have company because our table is very old, but I'm really not sure what the use is for it besides the kids mistaking it for a napkin.
You can get your kids to use napkins? Mine constantly wipe their hands on their clothes. Even when I tuck a napkin in their shirt & put another one close to hand.

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#51 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 03:40 PM
 
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I use one just to make the table look fancy and special on Friday nights for Shabbat. It's white and kind of lacy and the kids get a kick out of setting it with my grandmother's silver and putting the candlesticks out.

The rest of the week we just use placemats.
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#52 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 04:02 PM
 
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We just put a table cloth on when we set the table for dinner. Breakfast, lunch and snacks get placemats. Also, the kids do their school work at the table, but they use clipboards to write on.

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#53 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 04:03 PM
 
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Since this is partly about tables.. the wood table I have came from a set with 4 farm style chairs.. the chairs were not the best quality and didn't last very long (we have two of them left, one now is on the deck in the summer, the other by the computer), plus there were only 4 for a table that extends out to seat 6..

since then, I bought another table/chair set for $100.. I bought them off craigslist, and the seller wouldn't separate the set (i really only needed the 6 chairs).. the chairs are black painted wood (I think) with ugly checkered black fabric seats (and I mean ugly because the fabric is pretty worn).. the table had a metal stand (four metal black legs) with a glass top (which I actually have nothing against glass tables, but this one in particular had a southwestern motif etched in the glass with doesn't match me decor at all)..

I didn't need the table, so we dismantled the stand, and stood the glass top up in the garage.. move forward several weeks..

eventually dp parks the van too far in the garage, and busts the glass top everywhere..

so now I have a wooden table (oval) with 6 black chairs (that need new paint and fabric, tighten screws, etc) and a metal black table stand..

what to do?

I think I have two options..

1) sand down the chairs and see if the chairs wood (if they even are wood- what else could they be?) can somehow match the table (ie stain to match somehow) and replace the fabric (I have a really cute red fabric I bought on clearance with palm fronds and monkeys on it to go with my polynesian/asian theme)..

2) paint the table a glossy black, touch up the chairs' existing black finish, and recover the fabric..

I DID recently see a table at a thrift store that was VERY close to what mine looks like that had been painted black and it looked really great.. but then I think painted wood is a travesty in many situations.. although painted wood furniture I don't think is as bad as say painted wood floors or ... Also, the table has a couple of small spots on the top where the finish has rubbed off a bit.. so I think it might need sanding all over, and possibly restain or paint anyway..

so what would you do (if it matters my cabinets are a honey spice color, and I think the table is a bit darker)? I do a lot of larger household projects in the summer, so trying to get my planning ready (especially if I will be without a table for a while)...
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#54 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 05:05 PM
 
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I vote for striping/sanding/refinishing the chairs with new cushion covers. If your table needs a new finish, you could find two colors of stain that will allow you to get a close match between the chairs and the table.

I am not a big fan of painted wood either... and paint chipping tends to be more obvious than slightly mismatched stained wood.

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#55 of 60 Old 02-21-2009, 05:07 PM
 
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Really, the only table we use a table cloth on our dining table is for holidays or when we have a lot of people over and the table is pushed up against the wall to house the food. When we just have a couple of people over, placemats are used. I love finding cute and quirky placemats.
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#56 of 60 Old 02-22-2009, 05:38 AM
 
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For me, because my dining table is 100-120yo and desperately needs refinished.
Spills and such can and will discolor it until we can afford to get it professionally re-done (my grandma was even too cheap to have it refinished!). So I usually have a tablecloth and placemats on our table, Grandma just did placemats, but my sister and I also weren't at her house all day every day in our very young years.

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#57 of 60 Old 02-22-2009, 11:26 AM
 
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For me, because my dining table is 100-120yo and desperately needs refinished.
Spills and such can and will discolor it until we can afford to get it professionally re-done (my grandma was even too cheap to have it refinished!). So I usually have a tablecloth and placemats on our table, Grandma just did placemats, but my sister and I also weren't at her house all day every day in our very young years.
Could you do it yourself? My mother has a sanding machine and she refinished my son's desk last summer.. it is beautiful. She will be helping me with my table/chairs problem (whatever I end up deciding to do with that) and POSSIBLY helping me redo my bedroom set..
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#58 of 60 Old 02-22-2009, 03:08 PM
 
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Well, I use a table cloth because my table is ugly.
: My table is super old, we found it in DH's parent's garage

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#59 of 60 Old 02-22-2009, 03:47 PM
 
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Hmm, no tablecloth here, but it's something I'd like to start using. It just seems "nicer". That said, I have a 21 month old, so it might be something I have to keep on the back burner for a while.
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#60 of 60 Old 02-22-2009, 09:01 PM
 
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Could you do it yourself? My mother has a sanding machine and she refinished my son's desk last summer.. it is beautiful. She will be helping me with my table/chairs problem (whatever I end up deciding to do with that) and POSSIBLY helping me redo my bedroom set..
Not easily. Things we've sanded and stained before never end up with that pretty, smooth finish (think more rash/bumpy) because we have no air-free area to do anything - too much dust in our area/house/garage - plus right now we heat with wood. Unless we move out of the house for a few days to close everything up (and stink it up in the meantime so then we'd need to air it out for another week or three). Just one of those things I suppose. Plus the legs are engraved and blah blah blah.
Or you could just call me lazy, that works too.

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