Despite their appearance, placemats serve a practical role as well as a decorative one while setting the table. ‘I learnt the hard way that a placemat is a must in our house with kids and a brand-new marble table,’ explains Neffi Walker, lead designer of The Black Home. In addition to preventing unavoidable spills, it helps keep our table looking new for as long as possible. According to Alana Grim, co-owner of ANGL, a vintage-furniture boutique in Brooklyn, placemats help protect table surfaces from heat, cold, and food. Wood, marble, lacquer and stone all require some form of protective coating. The placemats aren’t only for mealtimes for Grim. She suggests using a placemat “to cover under your laptop to keep it from damaging your furnishings” if you work from home and at the kitchen table.
However, placemat, according to designer Marie Burgos, have a more contemporary look. When it comes to formal events, she adds, “I adore a long tablecloth, but I believe that tablecloths are a bit restricted and too conventional today.” In addition, placemats are more adaptable, since they may be placed on any surface, whether it’s a kitchen island or a dining room table. As a result, we contacted Walker, Grim, Burgos, and five other designers and professional hosts about their favorite placemats.
Best casual placemats
The usage of woven placemats produced from natural fibers such as rattan and water hyacinth was advised by three of our experts. They achieve a mix between fun and contemporary without being too formal, according to Danielle Firle, Secret Supper’s co-founder. A wet towel or sponge is all that’s needed for cleaning, so they’re perfect for outdoor usage. According to Firle, “these would be perfect for a summer dinner party and would fit with almost any table arrangement.”
These handmade rattan placemats with additional fringe are a touch more formal. These plates are a hit with Grim because of their vibrant colors and ease of cleaning. They’d be ideal for a beach party or casual meal. Her ideal placemat is one that “adds softness and richness as well as color and design to the environment,” which is exactly what this one does.
Mindy Weiss, an event coordinator who has worked with everyone from the Kardashians to Diana Ross, prefers something that is easy to clean and can be used on a regular basis. Her favorite Chilewich placemats are made of a woven vinyl material that’s easy to clean, she explains. Rattan and hyacinth placemats, for instance. In addition to adding an interesting texture to the table, they are also made of a woven material that makes them more easily cleaned as well as more durable.
The New York-based firm, Deborah Rhodes, specialized in tabletop accessories, which Weiss also enjoys. When it comes to everyday usage, Weiss prefers the simpler forms, such as the fish-shaped wicker placemat seen here. “They’re round, simple with a hint of lurex thread, and easy to clean,” she says of these woven nylon slippers. To top it all off, the lurex thread adds some shiny glimmer!
The Italian firm Uashmama makes wipeable, water- and stain-resistant placemats, which Firle recommends if you want to avoid plastic or cloth that is easily stained. A damp cloth is all that is needed to keep these placemats clean, however they may be pre-washed with mild soap for larger spills like wine or oil. Alternatively, you may use an iron up to 390 degrees Fahrenheit to give them a polished appearance. In addition to their endurance, they also have a pleasing appearance. Cassandra LaValle, an interior designer, like its “organic simplicity” in a range of forms and hues. There is a wide range of shapes to choose from, including round, oval, and rectangular.
They’re not too costly, have a colorful floral design, and are machine-washable.
He points out that placemats not only serve as a protective barrier for your furniture, but also provide a decorative element to your table arrangement. Because they’re easy to switch around, you should have fun with them. Because “various colors and designs elevate the table with a cheerful theme,” Burgos also enjoys utilizing diverse colors and designs. Founder of the design firm Coming Soon, Fabiana Faria proposes a brightly colored fern landscape printed on half-cotton, half-linen fabric. It’s also machine-washable, just like the above.
Among all of the placemats shown here, this one may be the most indestructible. If you’re searching for something completely different, Noel Laws, co-owner of Grim’s at ANGL, says they are excellent. Any table setting will benefit from a round form and copper finish, she explains. But due of the cutouts, it is not the greatest for spill protection.
You can even make your own (particularly after all the time you’ve spent cultivating new interests in quarantine). As soon as it’s completed, she adds, this 100-piece puzzle makes a great placemat. So they stay together, they may be bonded with puzzle glue.
Best formal placemats
During formal meals, placemats have a different purpose. According to Firle, “they can truly anchor your place setting and provide layers and complexity.” When placed under a place setting, they also have a symbolic value, Grim explains. We all like to feel important, after all. Therefore, while entertaining, our professionals choose placemats that aren’t too basic and have additional designs, patterns or decorations. Walker, for example, utilizes these marble placemats during dinner parties to set the table. It’s a lovely contrast to a dark wood table, she adds, and she loves the black lines in the marble. Black porcelain plates and gold utensils complete the dining arrangement. While these are intended for formal usage, they are still easy to clean, so you may use them every day if you like.)
In lieu of a charger, LaValle will “use a placemat instead of a charger to add to the decorative theme of the table,” he explains. Until Seybert presented her to these placemats, which she characterizes as “exquisitely crafted,” she had never even considered formal placemats. They are her current passion from the designer. With sequins, beads, and layers, they’re perfect for formal dining — hopefully with no clumsy diners. There is only one way to clean up a spill on one of these placemats, and that is with a toothbrush.
When it comes to formal dining, some of Weiss’ favorite tablecloths come from Los Encajeros, but she warns that it’s “a fantastic, and I mean wonderful, extravagance.” It’s been almost a century since the premium Spanish business began manufacturing handcrafted linens for European monarchy, and they’re still manufactured using much of the same processes. As for monogrammed or embroidered placemats, Weiss thinks they are great for a “seated dinner party, a summer luncheon or a wedding shower”
Best placemats for kids
The Happy Mat is Weiss’ top recommendation for placemats when you have kids and want to protect your furnishings. Placemats like the Happy Mat are a favorite among children, parents, and grandparents, she adds, noting that they are “a lifeline for families during cleanup.” For kids, this is a placemat and a plate in one. There is a suction cup that attaches to the table and collects the mess. It’s also dishwasher-safe, so cleaning is a breeze.