Home decor: Where is that runner running?

Image source: voolis.com

The runner is the first aid of modern decor. It has sprinted into the modern homemaker’s lexicon with a speed that may surprise the slim strip of fabric itself!

The table runner probably goes back to the riotous Middle Ages when guests would wipe greasy fingers on the table cloth. Instead of providing napkins, runners were used.

The runner is an easy and often reasonably priced way to jazz up a not-so-jazzy table. It comes in different sizes, colours, textures. It comes ready-made at almost every household store. It is versatile and chic.

Image source: etsystatic.com
Image courtesy: etsystatic.com

A runner can run anywhere. It can be used on the coffee table with just one centre piece to hold it in place. Used on the sideboard, it looks chic and keeps the wood from being scratched by the vase. It can be used on the top of an old cabinet that you have been too lazy to get varnished. We have used runners even inside the crockery cabinet to keep spiffy crockery from a knock inevitable during handling. In a crunch, if that new table cloth proves a little short for your table, draw attention away to the centre runner. Just make sure the runner hangs about a foot off the table top on each side.


1. Is it permitted for your table mats to overlap the runner?

Errr…. not really, but it’s not a major crime. Mats can go under the runner where they overlap.

Image source: aliimg.com
Image courtesy: aliimg.com

2. What’s the appropriate length of a runner?

The thumb rule is aesthetics. If the wood below or the table cloth is rich and worth showing off, the runner may stop short of the ends. Most dining table runners are the length of the table cloth and are between 12 and 22 inches wide.

3. How does the runner not slip off?

Heard of a crystal vase or a statuette? They sit together in elegant harmony.

4. Should a runner be in a neutral colour?

If your table cloth is in a neutral shade, what keeps you from adding a splash of colour? Look at your curtains, a focal painting or your decor to take a cue. The thumb rule is not to make your home into an artist’s palette.

Image source: vintagenewsjunkie.com
Image courtesy: vintagenewsjunkie.com

5. Can I use a runner along the length of the table without placemats?

Not for a formal look. Invest in table mats to protect your table cloth and to reduce the washing. For a formal look, pick up the runner and place mats in the same colour, if not the same fabric. Or use cross runners down the shorter length of the table, instead of placemats.

6. What if my table is circular?

Runners look elegant on a round table. A round table, especially in glass, can also hold two runners at right angles.

7. I have a choice of runners. Which should I use for the table?

The runner can be the exact size of the table or it can fall short of the table. The most graceful runner decor is when the runner tips over the sides of the table. The centre of the runner coincides with the centre of the table.

Image source: lowgolink.com
Image courtesy: lowgolink.com

8. Can I use a runner without a table cloth?

Of course! As long as the table is worth showing off. If you’re having the room upholstered, pick up a couple of metres extra for the runner to get a coordinated look.

9. What do I do with a short runner?

Shorter runners are wonderful for informal tables or surfaces. Use it over an antique corner table with a table lamp.

10. Is my runner too wide?

A runner is anything from a third to half the width of the dining table. On a sideboard, it can be a little less or a little more but it should not look like a ribbon.

Image source: shelterness.com
Image courtesy: shelterness.com

11. What do I look for in a runner?

If you’re splurging, go for silk, linen, woven, quilted, embroidered or textured fabric. Avoid printed runners as the print fades with subsequent washes.

12. Is there a DIY for a runner?

There’s a DIY for anyone who asks the question! A precious old sari, torn beyond redemption; an embroidered stole or dupatta can all be made into a runner.