Since buying the perfect dining room table is out of the question on this budget, disguise the one you have with runners, place mats, napkins, and tablecloths. Things to consider: whether you want the linens to be the backdrop or the focus of your table, whether you’re inclined to iron, how often you eat at the table (and use cloth napkins when you do), and whether you want special occasion or workaday.
Lotta Jansdotter, $12–$48 per piece
All-natural linen and cotton fabrics, used by wonderful textile designers like Paula Smail and Lotta Jansdotter, are more expensive but feel more luxurious than synthetic ones. Due to limited quantity and detailed handiwork, expect to pay at least $100 to outfit your table. You will have to iron these, and dry cleaning is recommended to avoid shrinkage.
2Modern, $60 for a four-piece set
Use materials other than fabric (like wood or wire) to add texture and save money and effort. These place mats from notNeutral have a birch veneer finish and feature white line drawings of butterflies and flowers. They sponge off easily. The company offers five other similar designs that look great mixed together for casual table settings.
Pier 1, $3–$4 per piece
For everyday use, go for linens made from a polyester blend. They don’t wrinkle, won’t fade, and are lots cheaper. We like having a stash of solid colors at our disposal for different moods. Pier 1 offers napkins and place mats in loads of shades. (The company also sells cute, inexpensive twig place mats.)