I’ve read in numerous organization books the suggestion of covering an end table with a table skirt so that you can hide things under the table (your child’s toys, active knitting projects, etc.). Table skirts don’t really mesh with my design style, but I can see that this suggestion would work for people whose style it complements.
Table cloths for use on dining room tables are a completely different monster, however. Most people don’t hide objects under their dining room tables because that is where human legs belong, so a table cloth isn’t being used to hide clutter. If you’re worried about your table getting damaged by heavy objects, a flimsy layer of cotton isn’t going to protect the wood. It makes more sense to have a piece of glass or clear plexiglas cut to fit your tabletop to better protect its surface. Plus, a piece of glass or clear plexiglas will let you see your table instead of hiding what you likely spent hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars to purchase.
Table cloths have to be stored when not in use, need to be washed after a single meal, and often have to be ironed to look their best. All of these steps and necessary storage space can be eliminated by not having them at all.
If you like the look of a decorated table, buy Chilewich table mats that have a sophisticated appearance and wipe clean with a sponge. They don’t require ironing or a spin through the washer and dryer after each use. Plus, a stack of 20 table mats takes up the same amount of storage space as a single table cloth. Combine the table mats with a glass or clear plexiglas covering, and you’re on your way to an uncluttered and easily maintained dining room table!