Too Short, Too Long? Getting Table Runner Size Just Right

Crafting a beautifully set table starts with choosing a table runner in the perfect size. An improperly sized table runner can throw off the overall aesthetic and functionality of your dining space. A too short runner leaves unsightly gaps, while an overlong runner cascades awkwardly low or bunches up. Getting the size just right makes all the difference in creating a polished, professional tablescape.

You’ll learn how to measure for a tailored fit, factor in proper overhang, and avoid common sizing mishaps. We’ll also share pro styling techniques, so you can pull together a visually cohesive tablescape.

Determining Table Runner Length

The first step in choosing a well-fitting table runner is taking accurate measurements of your dining table. You’ll need both the length and width of your table to select a properly proportioned runner. Refer to your furniture specs if available. Otherwise, manually measure from end to end for the length and side to side for the width.

Take into account the shape of your table as well – rectangle, oval, square or round. The overall area and layout will factor into ideal runner sizing. For unusually shaped tables, trace a paper template so you can visualize how a runner will fit and drape.

Allow for Proper Overhang

The recommended overhang for a table runner is 6 to 12 inches on each end of the table. This not only looks beautiful, but also serves a practical purpose. The overhang prevents table settings from sliding off the ends. It also frames the place settings and anchors them visually.

length of a table runner

With formal place settings, allow up to a foot of overhang so charger plates don’t overlap the runner’s edges. For more casual styles, 6 inches gives you leeway for glasses and plates while maintaining a clean look. Too much overhang can dip underneath plates. Too little overhang looks skimpy.

Calculate Total Length Needed

To calculate your total table runner length:

  • Measure the length of your table.
  • Add 12 to 24 inches total for the recommended overhang.

For example, a 72 inch long table, plus 12 inches of overhang on each end, would need a 96 inch table runner. Refer to standard sizing charts for popular table dimensions.

Factors Affecting Runner Size

The right table runner measurement goes beyond your table’s basic length and width. Other factors like place setting footprints, table shapes, and visual appeal play a role in selecting the optimum size.

Table Runner Placement

Consider where you want to position the runner and how much surface area you need for plates and glassware. A runner down the center allows dining on both sides. Runners along the length of the table take up more usable area.

Measure place settings at each seat to ensure your runner size accommodates flatware, dishes, napkins and decor. Leave at least 24 inches for each place setting so dinner plates don’t overlap the runner edges.

Table Shape and Size

The proportions of your table also influence runner sizing. On a long, narrow table, you may need a runner width up to half the total table width. For wide dining tables, choose a runner that’s only 1/3 to 1/4 the full width.

The overall table size matters too. An overlong runner can overwhelm a small table, while a tiny runner might look lost on a grand banquet table. Scale your runner size up or down accordingly.

Aesthetic Preferences

Consider the visual impact you want to achieve as well. Some prefer runners with dramatic, foot-long overhangs for opulent style. Others favor a subtler overhang of just 6 inches.

Coordinate runner size with your other linens too. Contrast an oversized runner with smaller napkins or mats. Or mimic proportions with a generously draped runner, cloth napkins and full-coverage placemats.

Runner Length Guidelines

Use these table runner sizing guidelines tailored to the most common table shapes and sizes.

Rectangular Tables

For standard 4 to 12 foot rectangular dining tables, this chart lists ideal runner lengths:

Table LengthRunner Length
4 ft (48 in)60 – 72 in
5 ft (60 in)72 – 84 in
6 ft (72 in)84 – 96 in
8 ft (96 in)108 – 120 in
10 ft (120 in)132 – 144 in
12 ft (144 in)156 – 168 in

For uncommon table lengths in between, allow for 6 to 12 inches of overhang on each end when calculating total runner length.

Round and Oval Tables

For round tables, center the runner on the diameter and allow even overhang on both sides. Or place runners around the circumference, meeting at the corners.

For oval tables, a runner down the lengthwise center is best. Calculate length with our recommended overhang formula. For width, make the runner span 1/3 to 1/2 the width of the table at its widest point.

Square and Long Tables

Getting the right size for square table runners is easy. Simply measure the length of one side of the square. Add your desired overhang to calculate the total length needed. Width equals the side length as well.

For extra long banquet-style rectangular tables, place runners down the center lengthwise. Size the width between 1/3 and 1/2 the full table width. Allow roughly a foot of overhang on either end.

Common Table Runner Mistakes

Be aware of these issues that can occur with improperly sized table runners, and how to work around them if needed.

Too Short

A table runner that’s too short leaves gaps between the runner edges and your place settings. This looks unpolished and makes it tricky to anchor your tableware.

If you end up with a slightly short runner, try gathering or draping it to add visual fullness. Or layer another contrasting runner perpendicular underneath.

Too Long

An overlong runner drapes awkwardly low beneath your tabletop. It can dip into plates or catch on chairs. Overly long runners also tend to bunch up on the table.

For a too long runner, try steaming or pressing it to reduce width. Fully drape excess length underneath the table out of sight. Or trim the runner evenly to your ideal size.

One Size Fits All

Many table runners come in standard sizes like 70, 90 or 120 inches. But those rarely fit every table perfectly. Non-custom runners often end up either too skimpy or draggy.

Standard sizes can work fine for very large or small basic tables. But for anything mid-sized and uniquely shaped, get a tailored fit.

Achieving the Perfect Fit

Follow these top tips for choosing a table runner that truly fits your tablescape:

  • Measure carefully before purchasing any runner.
  • Read product dimensions closely – don’t assume standard sizes.
  • Custom order to get an ideal fit for special sizes and shapes.
  • Only buy non-custom if you can adjust length easily.

Beyond the perfect length and width, also pick runners in appealing colors, patterns and textures to tie your complete tablescape together. Layering contrasting runners can add visual interest too. With a beautifully fitting runner paired with complementary table linens, you’ll have professional designer style.

Getting table runner sizing right does take a bit of planning and math. But the effort pays off in a gorgeously dressed dining space. To recap, be sure to measure your table properly, calculate recommended overhang, and choose a proportional width. Refer to our size charts and guidelines for any table shape and size. Avoid common pitfalls like skimpy and draggy runners. And with the right know-how, you can set a Pinterest-worthy scene guaranteed to impress.

Now that you’re armed with expert knowledge, you can choose beautiful table runners tailored to perfection. Turn your dining room into a magazine-spread worthy space for entertaining. Along with a properly sized table runner, artfully arranged tablescapes have never been easier to achieve.

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