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imatlas

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Important philosophical question: do you use placemats?
Philosophically, I believe Nakashima, that fabled master of dining tables, has it right: nicks and dings add to the character of the table: let it be naked. But he was also the kind of guy that had all hands on deck ready if SOMETHING SHOULD HAPPEN, especially since his tables are more porous than average. Unfortunately, if you like to keep your things nice, you cannot be Mr. Loosey Goosey.

Ultimately, the question comes down to how do you use your dining table? Do you keep things like a bottle of vinegar on it? Do you eat a lot citrus fruit? Also, how susceptible is your table to damage? Lightly or untreated wood and marble are easily damaged if you have a careless member of your household. While you may peel an orange with care, there is perhaps somebody in your household who doesn't.

Also, if you entertain, I think placemats are a must-have item, even if you do not use them regularly. Mostly anybody who is born in the US has this idea that they never need to pay attention to anything that they do. That life is a barrel of monkeys, and there are no food rules. This is a sociological disease,

For the record, I use Chilewich placemats. I have a fantasy of one day freeing myself from these encumbrances, but they provide me with consolation that philosophy fails to provide me. As it were, I am no Boethius.
 

gdl203

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Important philosophical question: do you use placemats?
We only use placemats (sometimes) for outdoor dining (because it’s hard to keep an outdoor teak table perfectly clean). For indoor, we either use nothing or a tablecloth. To be fair we mostly use tablecloths for outdoor as well - but sometimes replace with placemats.
 

TheFoo

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Philosophically, I believe Nakashima, that fabled master of dining tables, has it right: nicks and dings add to the character of the table: let it be naked. But he was also the kind of guy that had all hands on deck ready if SOMETHING SHOULD HAPPEN, especially since his tables are more porous than average. Unfortunately, if you like to keep your things nice, you cannot be Mr. Loosey Goosey.

Ultimately, the question comes down to how do you use your dining table? Do you keep things like a bottle of vinegar on it? Do you eat a lot citrus fruit? Also, how susceptible is your table to damage? Lightly or untreated wood and marble are easily damaged if you have a careless member of your household. While you may peel an orange with care, there is perhaps somebody in your household who doesn't.

Also, if you entertain, I think placemats are a must-have item, even if you do not use them regularly. Mostly anybody who is born in the US has this idea that they never need to pay attention to anything that they do. That life is a barrel of monkeys, and there are no food rules. This is a sociological disease,

For the record, I use Chilewich placemats. I have a fantasy of one day freeing myself from these encumbrances, but they provide me with consolation that philosophy fails to provide me. As it were, I am no Boethius.
I think you’re onto to something with your comments about Nakashima. However, I am not so much concerned with trite social formalities—this is my home and guests are treated well, but I’m not putting on a show or facade for anyone. We do not believe in having an extra set of “nice china” or “good silverware”. To me, it’s really more a matter of aesthetics and tactility.

In my mind, the more natural/rustic the tabletop finish, the more it makes sense to forego placemats—a picnic table as the most extreme example. Nakashima’s tables should not have placemats. These are surfaces that patina and age gracefully. Also, they are pleasant and interesting to touch.

Conversely, it seems awkward to not use placemats on very smooth, polished marble or wood tabletops. These surfaces scratch in an ugly way and are difficult/expensive to repair. Also, they are not very warm or interesting tactile experiences. They seem to beg for an intermediate layer to interface with human beings.

Our dining table is made of a smooth, white Corian-like composite material. It is already finely scratched all-over through regular use, but only if you look closely. Our kids use the table for doing art and homework and I regularly use it for my work as well. However, we have always used placemats for meals because it just seemed that the tabletop surface was so “perfect” that it does not invite direct contact with the rough bottoms of glasses and dishes. Also, there is something pleasing about contrasting a more textured textile against such a pristine and smooth surface.

However, I generally find placemats fussy. If I could, I’d go without them. My very minor concern is accelerating ugly wear on our table. My more critical concern is that going without placemats will look and feel too sterile and clinical.

Also, if I must use placemats, I don’t want ones that aren’t practical for daily use. Linen and cotton are just too much of a pain. We’ve been using Chilewich as well, but I hate how they feel.

Another option would be large, round cork trivets under each plate. Flatware directly on the table surface.
 
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TheFoo

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We only use placemats (sometimes) for outdoor dining (because it’s hard to keep an outdoor teak table perfectly clean). For indoor, we either use nothing or a tablecloth. To be fair we mostly use tablecloths for outdoor as well - but sometimes replace with placemats.
Interesting. I lean the opposite way for outdoor dining—never any linens or placemats.

Two questions:

1. See my above post regarding tactility and aesthetics. What kind of dining tables are you using and how does that influence whether you use a placemat or table linen?

2. What kind of placemats do you use? Please tell me you have found an alternative to Chilewich.
 

gdl203

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Interesting. I lean the opposite way for outdoor dining—never any linens or placemats.

Two questions:

1. See my above post regarding tactility and aesthetics. What kind of dining tables are you using and how does that influence whether you use a placemat or table linen?

2. What kind of placemats do you use? Please tell me you have found an alternative to Chilewich.
1. Indoor are marble and white laminate (Hay T12). Doesn’t influence the use of placemats since we don’t use them. Typically use nothing or a tablecloth. I have never and never will worry about scratching, etching or staining on marble. The hard plate on hard/cold surface doesn’t bother me at all for breakfast or lunch. But somehow, I feel like a tablecloth is a better tactile experience for dinner.
2. I don’t know what they are but they’re cloth placemats (like small tablecloths?) that we brought a bunch back from France. I think we have somewhere some harder placemats (woven straw stuff) from Crate and Barrel but never use them.
 

TheFoo

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1. Indoor are marble and white laminate (Hay T12). Doesn’t influence the use of placements since we don’t use them. Typically use nothing or a tablecloth.
2. I don’t know what they are but they’re cloth placemats (like small tablecloths?) that we brought a bunch back from France. I think we have somewhere some harder placemats (woven straw stuff) from Crate and Barrel but never use them.
Hmm. That Hay table is not that far off from
what we use, the Tense table from MDF Italia:

1614530963996.jpeg


Kudos on using proper cotton placemats. Not a pain to wash and keep clean? Though you mentioned not using them daily.
 

gdl203

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We have a bunch so they just get thrown in the wash - not a pain at all. Same with tablecloths. Thrown in the wash basket
 

TheFoo

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We have a bunch so they just get thrown in the wash - not a pain at all. Same with tablecloths. Thrown in the wash basket
Uggh. We’d use up to four placemats a meal, three times a day, seven days a week. I’d need to get 84 to last a week before washing!
 

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Hmm.. you have kids - don’t you guys do a round or two per day? I feel like since the kids were born, the washer and dryer have been running a few hours every day
 

TheFoo

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Hmm.. you have kids - don’t you guys do a round or two per day? I feel like since the kids were born, the washer and dryer have been running a few hours every day
We last a few days between washes, but I don’t want to add washing placemats to the task list!
 

Lizard23

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No placemats on anything. Tables are quartz, concrete, reclaimed wood. I am a firm believer in either a durable surface that doesnt age with use or one that is meant to age. I veto any choice that falls in the middle even if I really like it

Outside we have teak. No placemats there either. Google goldencare products. They are exceptional.

In an outlier situation where something had me concerned, i would sooner use a nice white tablecloth.
 
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