Whether you’re after decoration for a dining table to impress guests or mats to protect and brighten-up kitchen furniture, there should be something in our round-up that will suit your needs.
Many of the mats are cork-backed to avoid scratches on the table, some are made from super-strong melamine and all can be wiped clean or, in the case of Zara’s cotton placemat, put in the washing machine. There are plain products where the material - be it slate, leather or wood - does the talking, as well as designs from independent makers whose illustrations and pattern-making will set your table apart.
1. Denby Monsoon Jerez Placemats: £16.81 for 4, amazon.co.uk
The brand known for its quality crockery also makes some functional but decorative mats, including these cork-backed ones for Monsoon’s home range. At 30.5cm in diameter, you’ll still get to see the mosaic-esque pattern in earthy colours beneath your dinner plates.
2. Martha and Hepsie Mischievous Magpie Placemats: £30 for 4, etsy.com
These little placemats – 24cmx19cm – appeal for their eye-catching illustrations of some of our distinctive wildlife including pigeons, blue tits and these magpies. Cork-backed, on eucalyptus hardboard, they come tied with bakers’ twine and make a lovely house- warming pressie.
3. Hokolo Placemat and coaster set: £15, hokolo.com
Fry-up, anyone? These breakfast-themed melamine mats caught our eye at a design fair. There are four different options – eggs, tomatoes, blueberries and oranges – and each comes with a matching coaster. At 24cmx19cm, they’re not huge but would really stand out on a smaller kitchen table.
4. Just Slate Placemats: £22 for 2, johnlewis.com
There are lots of slate placemats around but Just Slate’s are some of the best we’ve seen; they’re made from weighty Scottish rock, are a good size (21.5cmx30cm), and have durable cushion pads to protect the table against scratches. If these are too plain, the company also does some others with geometric- patterned designs.
5. Artbox Round Leather Placemats: From £24 for 4, notonthehighstreet.com
After plain placemats that work with your colour scheme? You can bet that Artbox will have a set that will do the job. Made from recycled leather, these British-made mats available in nearly 20 colours are slim but durable and any spills will wipe off. They come in a range of sizes and shapes. We’d go for the large round ones so you can still see them when the table is laid up.
6. Gillian Kyle Tunnocks Mixed Placemats: £34, amara.com
You don't have to live north of the border to appreciate these fun mats by the Scottish illustrator Gillian Kye. They are a celebration of some of her homeland's most-loved confectionery: Tunnock’s Teacakes and Caramel Wafers. You get four different red and white designs on tough 23x23cm cork-backed melamine – sweet treats not included.
7. Chilewich Bamboo Rectangle Placemat: £17.95 each, amara.com
If you’re hankering for your home to look like a five-star hotel or posh restaurant, then a Chilewich set might help. The luxe American company is the go-to brand for many swanky establishments. These woven vinyl placemats (48cmx36cm) come in lots of understated shades, as well as some less-subtle ones, like this teal. You can wash them with soap and water and they have clever built-in protection against bacteria.
8. Marks and Spencer Wooden Rectangular Placemats: £25, marksandspencer.com
These smart mats from M&S are simple but stylish. They have a glossy finish so are sleeker-looking than some more rustic-style wooden offerings. If you want to brighten them up (and ensure they don’t slide) then pop them on top of a larger fabric place setting.
9. Sam Osborne Geometric Placemats: £28 for 4, etsy.com
Oxfordshire-based Sam Osborne’s bright designs will add a real pop of colour to your table. We’re fans of her retro-looking geometric placemats in shades of green, red and orange. Like other cork-backed mats, they’re wipe clean. Just check the dimensions – 25cmx19cm – work for your place settings.
10. Zara Wildflower Digital Print Placemats: £12.99 for 2, zarahome.com
Zara Home has a big range of place mats. Our pick of the new season’s haul are these bold floral-patterned ones in striking colours. They’re generously proportioned (35cmx 50cm) and made of cotton, so can be washed and ironed if there are spillages.
For both a practical and decorative set, try Denby’s very reasonably priced Jerez placemats that are the perfect size to protect your table from hot plates and show off a bit of pattern. If you prefer a plainer look, we like Just Slate’s smart and weighty mats or Artbox’s colourful, slimline leather mats. Both are available in a range of shapes and sizes.
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