Madame Chic and the Tablecloth
Madame Chic (the Parisian host mother in my study abroad program) ran a very beautiful and efficient home. It was the details that mattered to her. One thing she always used was a tablecloth. The table would be considered naked without one.
Every night after dinner I would help her take the cloth off. We would do this carefully as baguette crumbs and other odds and ends usually gathered on the cloth’s surface. We would then walk to the kitchen window (their Parisian apartment was several floors up) and shake the cloth out the window as a way to remove all of the crumbs. Then if the tablecloth was still looking in top condition the cloth would be taken back to the table, if not it awaited its laundering the next day as fresh linens were ushered in.
It was such a simple activity, shaking the tablecloth out the window, but I remember really enjoying it and feeling rather ‘quaint’ while doing it.
Since I’m back in America I have brought with me Madame Chic’s love of tablecloths and always have my own table adorned. Of course crisp white is perfect for elegant occasions (formal or casual), bright colors are lovely for adding life to a room and seasonal hues are perfect for ushering in the holiday spirit.
I also like to experiment with layering different textures or colors together on the table. Below is the table I set for the Royal Wedding Tea Party I threw last spring. Here I layered a marigold colored linen cloth that I picked up during my travels in Sri Lanka on top of a plain white table cloth purchased from Williams Sonoma.
So that I am not constantly laundering tablecloths after ordinary dinners at home (some how we are a little messier at dinner time than Famille Chic) we generally put place mats on top of the cloth when we have dinner to avoid too many spills.
And because I live in a townhome I still employ Madame Chic’s quaint technique of shaking the cloth out the window after dinner. Although regarding that I do have a word of caution- It is important when shaking the cloth out the window (especially if you live on the second floor or higher) to make sure that a.) no one is underneath the tablecloth when you shake it and b.) that there is nothing valuable like a silver spoon hiding in the folds of the cloth (please learn from my mistakes).
And as a side note, I am not in love with our dining room set. But since it's not in our budget right now to update it with a new one, I find that a tablecloth really dresses it up and makes me forget the set's less desirable qualities...
I would love to know… do you use tablecloths? How do you dress your table?
Madame Chic's beautifully laid table is the first picture featured... Oh the wonderful dinners that were had at that table!
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