1. Half of the allure of a dish is in how it looks, so creating a visual banquet is vital to serving a successful meal. Going all out to make the right statement doesn't have to involve redecorating the whole dining room. Use table runners and cloths in unexpected and creative ways to accent the flavors and textures of your food with mixtures of color and texture on your table.
Add Character to the Basics
2. Buy solid tablecloths that complement the colors of the room, but add character by changing out the table runner. A simple runner in a contrasting solid color may be the perfect fit for a more casual meal, while a decorative runner with shine or metallic thread may be perfect for a formal dinner. Special runners with holiday themes give your table holiday flair without having to change out all of the linens.
Find a New Purpose
3. Use a scarf, shawl, rug, sheet, sari, fabric or other textile as a tablecloth or runner for a bit of unexpected interest. Dishtowels or cloth napkins make great runners. Place the napkins in a diagonal down the center of the table or place the dishtowels from end to end. Re-purposing fabric may bring new life to both the fabric and the room.
From the Window to the Table
4. Buy an extra curtain and make a runner to tie the table to the window treatment without it being too much of a match. You could also use some of the curtain fabric to sew a border on solid color napkins to tie them to the runner.
Go for the Unexpected
5. Use unexpected objects like wrapping or wallpaper, framed photographs, mirrors, cork or tiles as runners. Outdoor elements such as vines, branches, grass and shallow boxes or trays of stones could be used to create a casually elegant table. There is no rule that says that a table runner has to be made of fabric.
Keep It Simple
6. Use simple tonal colors for table runners and cloths on a table that has boldly-patterned dinnerware or a lot of small plates and decorations. Keep the patterns muted or use solid colors so you do not confuse the eye--one focal point per table. People need to be able to feel relaxed so they can focus on the food and conversation too.