One of the distinct features of Grandma Jennie’s dining room was the intricate lace doilies that covered her wood furniture. Hand crocheted by Grandma, the fine cotton pieces adorned her sideboards, tables, and even the shelves of her china cabinet.
These decorative items were quite common in the early- and mid-20th century. But they weren’t just decorations, they also served a functional purpose. Doilies set on wooden surfaces protected the furniture from scratches that might be caused by vases, dishes, and other objects set on top. Not only did they protect the surfaces of pieces that were meant to last a lifetime but they also could hide small mars and scratches on those surfaces.
While I appreciate their decorative and functional value, the old-fashioned appearance of doilies doesn’t appeal to my tastes. I prefer to use sturdy cloth table runners and mats instead.
Grandma needed to carefully launder her doilies to maintain the delicate lacework. But my bright fabric runners and mats are easy to care for. I can toss them in the laundry with the rest of the wash.
And it’s easy to swap out colors and patterns for different seasons. I could use pastels for spring, snow-white for winter, or a leaf pattern in russet tones for autumn. There’s no need to purchase an expensive table runner; a colorful scarf or fabric remnant can serve the same purpose. I could even trim and hem an old bed sheet to make a table runner or mats, making something useful out of fabric that might otherwise go to waste.
I love the idea of using decorative fabric to help protect our furniture so it lasts a long time. It’s just a bonus that these items — whether they’re Grandma’s lace doilies or cloth table runners — can add a sense of elegance or a pop of color to the room as well!