In the Home: Protecting the Table


My head is still spinning from Alt Summit this last weekend, so I’ll probably put something up tomorrow sharing all of the awesome people I met & the cool things I learned while there. In the mean time, I had a fantastic idea that I wanted to share with you:

We just bit the bullet recently & bought a grown-up table! It’s our 7th (and hopefully final) table in the last 5 1/2 years. Now that we have a nice table made out of beautiful solid wood, we need to take care of it. This means no naked glasses on the wood! I was grocery shopping the other day & thought I’d see if I could find some cooler place mats than we have currently & had a brilliant brain wave. I also had to pick up some envelopes in the office supply section & came across bulletin board tiles. They were about the right size, a fantastic color/texture & a lot cheaper than the placemats I had been eyeing earlier. BOOM. there you go. We have cork boards for place mats.

I think this idea connected partially because we had placemats growing up that had cork on the bottom, to keep from scratching the table top. I loved those placemats! They had pretty illustrations of the English countryside. I wonder if my parents still have them.

So, do you use placemats for mealtime? What are your favorite ones? Link to resources in the comments below!

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    1. I know a lot of people who use cork as table protectors and even kind of like plates in Germany. I love things that are useful and cool-looking!

    2. Ooh…I’d love to see a picture of your table! I’m still waffling over what to do for mine.

    3. Katie says:

      What a great idea! I love the color, texture, and simple look. And just think of all the fun things you could do with place cards for fancier events! All you’d have to do is put a pin in them and they’d stick right in!

    4. nikki says:

      We are a placemat family. Totally digging on the cork. Might just copy that idea!

    5. Emily says:

      Interesting idea. I am super curious about your table!! We use tablecloths or placemats. Though the plastic ones are ugly and used to slightly scratch up the table top (before I coated it) they are easier to keep clean.

    6. Angela says:

      We’ve been using the same thing! Ours got grubby after a while and I painted them. Now I repaint them every once and a while to freshen them up. :-)

    7. Such a good idea. Dang girl, you’re good. :)

    8. Amanda says:

      Love the cork board placemat idea–I’m sure it was inexpensive and it looks great on your beautiful wood table. The only concern I have is how to clean them. What happens when you spill on the cork?

      I also greatly heart the napkins. They’re denim, right?

    9. Marisa says:

      Yes, please tell us about the napkins! I’ve been using cut up & hemmed flour sack because I like soft napkins, not the polyester-y fabric things that are packaged as “cloth napkins.” But I’m finding that the flour sack aren’t quite nice enough for dinner guests. I’m searching for a new fabric that’s soft, practical, but still elegant.

    10. Anna H says:

      To protect our table, I bought a big sheet of thick plastic and I just use it like a tablecloth. It isn’t the prettiest, but it is easy to clean and that way we can put pictures or art work or leaves or anything under the plastic to look at while we eat. I do love the cork though!

    11. Jess says:

      I don’t use them, but I wish we had! My table has a wood outer edge with a sort of stone inlay in the middle, so I’ve never wanted to cover it up with a tablecloth. But place mats like these would have gone right with the theme of the table and still protected it; the wood parts have been ruined by glasses and other messes my kids have made, and I’m soooo sad. This is what we get for buying a nice table when our kids were 2 and 4, I guess! :)

    12. rooth says:

      I found you through Design Crush. Congrats on the new table! Could I ask you where you got it from? I am going to be looking for one in the next few weeks

    13. hey melissa, all these sounds very english, we love cork over there :)

      i use a couple of leather place mats that i think i got from bed bath and beyond when we were first wed. I like the fact that they’re easy just to wipe afterwards, but if there’s anymore than 4 eating I usually go for a table cloth, it looks nicer and supper easy to wash.

      I always keep my eyes out for deals on sheets at target, usually they’re a ton cheaper than actual table cloths.


    14. What a great idea! There are so many awesome uses for cork. I have a few packs of cork trivets from IKEA ( and I use them as oversize coasters (they can hold 2-3 glasses) and mini bulletin boards. Love the place mat idea!

    15. Hey Melissa!
      Great idea that reminds me of someone I spotted on Etsy -> If you or one of your reader really digg into that cork stuff, I think her placemats are awesome and so her illustrations!
      ps: my head is still spinning as well from ALT Summit…

    16. Heather says:

      I use a long rectangular cork board as my mouse pad and desk protector. It frames out my keyboard quite nicely, and I can use it as a coaster when I eat at my desk. So, so useful.

    17. Lets see this table of yours!!! :) I am plotting my own dining room concept right now. I want a walnut colored table it can be traditional or modern but my chairs are definately going to be modernish. Hopefully some vintage school chairs or shell chairs but they have to be white. I look everywhere I go and I saw some shell chairs at THE BUS STATION! I ought to go up there and start waving $20 bills around and see what happens! I am kidding…or am I? HAHA

    18. air greenwood says:

      Well, we still have yet to splurge on a grown up table, although I am sure we will over the next 5 years or so…

      We have 3 girls ages 6 & down. So right now, its just a lost cause having anything “nice” ha!

      Anyhow, about 4 years ago we scored an awesome table at IKEA. It was normally around $300 and we got it for $75. We actually paid more for the mod kids chairs than for the table. We were looking for a rustic farmhouse style table…this one is SUPER long & has a wood butcher block top & black legs…not exactly what we wanted but close enough & totally a bargain.

      Over the years, the kids have done homework on it, painted, you name it…so instead of stressing over the markings and what not on the table top, we just decided to let it be. Fast forward to now…we have all signed our table top and so do our dinner guests & family, etc. ITS SO FUN! Colorful..people get really excited to sign it too!

      When we are ready for a nice table & its full, we will dismount the top from the legs & hang it on our wall in our dining room.

      So granted, this doesnt offer any solutions for keeping your nice table nice…[sorry in advance!] I just thought others with a not so nice table might like the suggestion for some fun and a new tradition :)

      Congrats on the big purchase! LOVE the cork board idea!

    19. […] things that just never gets old for me. (See also: concrete, Gilmore Girls, Diet Coke.) I love Melissa’s simple DIY placemets, these stackable concrete bowls, a cork stool (so. much. cork.) and the hilarious and affordable […]

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