Ways to Style a Tablecloth — 3 Simple Options for a Stunning Tablescape

One tablecloth, three ways. Follow this tablescape trick the next time you host a dinner party for a chic dining setup

A US-style tablescape
(Image credit: SFERRA)

Need ways to style your tablecloth besides a plain and boring 'drape'? We're here to help. It's officially the best time of the year to host spritely spring brunches and delightful al fresco dinner parties, and with the onset of hosting season comes the cue to bring out your best dinnerware. From beautiful bread and butter plates to fluted champagne glasses, we can't help but love going the extra mile to create the perfect tablescape. Alongside the crockery and cutlery, there are plenty of creative ways to adorn your table with a runner or tablecloth for that extra touch of elegance.

Despite being a rather vintage addition to a tablescape, this tradition has carried on into most modern dining rooms. If you've ever found your table looking a tad bare or if you feel like it's missing something but you can't quite put your finger on it, we suggest draping a tablecloth across it because that might just be the finishing touch it needs. We spoke to experts to find out why they favor these pretty dinnerware accessories, alongside three simple ways to style a rectangular tablecloth for the perfect finishing touch.

We came across a recent viral Instagram video, courtesy of Tableshoppe Co. (@tableshoppeco) where the company displayed three different ways to style a tablecloth for a chic tablescape. Each drape provides a varied aesthetic to the table from classic to contemporary. So if you're wondering how to set your table for your next big event or even just an intimate family dinner, try incorporating one of the following tablecloth styles for the backdrop to a lovely meal.

Ways to style a tablecloth

You'll never have to settle for a boring tablescape again. All you need for the following ideas is a simple rectangular length of material to elevate your entire set up.

1. Classic Drape

table laid in a garden with a floral tablecloth and vases with flowers on top

(Image credit: Terrain)

To begin, the video shines a spotlight on the beauty of a classic tablecloth drape. You can't go wrong with this style, regardless of the shape and size of your table. All you have to do is place it across the surface so it covers the entirety of the table. When you're adopting this tablecloth setting, feel free to go bold with colors and patterns. Interior design expert Shani Core suggests going for a traditional tablecloth that skirts the floor for a more formal look and especially loves this look for round dining tables.

The classic drape also works really well for holiday tablescapes where the rest of the accessories take center stage. 'When you add in a fun tablecloth and lots of interesting conversation pieces such as assorted candies in small dishes, games, candles, individual salt cellars, or shakers and nutcrackers, you're guaranteed to have a fun dinner party,' notes Shani.

2. Gathered Runner

A beautiful bright orange tablecloth

(Image credit: Olive & Co x Hope by Home)

The gathered runner is the perfect way to give your tablescape a subtle edge. Similar to table skirts, this styling idea is perfect for a contemporary table setting and can work well with even the simplest of tablecloths. While you can go bold with the brightly-hued tablecloths, this particular style can also be pulled off with a neutral fabric for a minimalistic dining setup. When it comes to this style of tablescape, interior expert Nina Lichtenstein recommends opting for a high-quality fabric like linen or cotton for a luxurious touch.

'Being creative with how you place the tablecloth can elevate your table setting to the next level,' she says. 'This style calls for accessorizing with tabletop decor such as candles, floral arrangements, or decorative centerpieces to complete the look and set a welcoming atmosphere for your guests.'

3. Folded Fashion

A cozy dining room table with fall tablecloth

(Image credit: Bloomint Design)

This final style is the perfect balance of modern simplicity. Who knew you could have a classy tablescape right at home with just the fold of a cloth? By draping the tablecloth over itself to fold it in half, you can drape it straight or even diagonally across your dining table for a dashing finishing touch.

Nina tells us that a relaxed, slightly tousled fold is perfect for a casual dining atmosphere. 'You can also consider experimenting with different folding or gathering techniques,' she notes. 'For instance, you can create an elegant effect by letting the tablecloth drape gracefully with gentle folds cascading down the sides.'

On your journey to being the host with the most, you'll come to realize that the details truly make a world of difference. And the simple and often overlooked addition of a tablecloth can take your set up to a whole new level. You can experiment with colors, cuts, and even drapes to cater to the overarching aesthetic of the party. It's not just parties and get-togethers that call for a little fancy dining moment, either - we're all for an elevated casual night in even if it's only a table for one!

Our top buys for a chic tablescape

News Writer

Amiya is the News Writer at Livingetc. She recently graduated with a Masters Degree in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London and has lent her words to beauty, fashion and health sections of lifestyle publications including Harper’s Bazaar and Women’s Health. Her experience as a research analyst has equipped her with an eye for emerging trends. When she’s off the clock, she can be found reading, listening to music or overanalysing her latest Co-Star update.