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Some fun spring options for place mats

By: KIM COOK The Associated Press
May 26, 2013 Updated: May 26, 2013 at 9:00 am
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photo - This undated publicity photo provided by Chilewich shows Mod Croc retro shape placements in tan, red and black. The Mod Croc embossed graphic is part of Sandy Chilewich?s manmade animal skin collection of easy to clean placemats (www.chilewich.com). (AP Photo/Chilewich, Victor Schrager Photography)
This undated publicity photo provided by Chilewich shows Mod Croc retro shape placements in tan, red and black. The Mod Croc embossed graphic is part of Sandy Chilewich?s manmade animal skin collection of easy to clean placemats (www.chilewich.com). (AP Photo/Chilewich, Victor Schrager Photography) 

The place mat is a favorite at many dinner tables: The often-whimsical plastic version catches the slip of spaghetti from a youngster's fork, while a nice cotton place mat elevates the dining experience just a little without having to set down a whole tablecloth.

There's something civilized about setting an individual dining place with a frame of sorts. An heirloom set of fine linen place mats are a quick and elegant way to dress the table. For something unusual, mats made of faux or real tropical leaves, lashed bamboo sticks, glitter, pebbles or squares of birch bark create a textural platform for plate and meal.

Here are a few new spring options:

New York designer Sandy Chilewich continues to experiment with her woven vinyl material, producing an array of textured mats in neutrals, metallics and colors. There's a hand-silkscreened, brushed-dot pattern, a delicate filigreed foil mat, faux printed cowhide, and a hip mod croc pattern in red, black and tan. (www.chilewich.com)

There are more woven mats at CB2: a selection of vinyl, basket-weave squares in on-trend hues. Textile designer Liora Manne's signature felting technique of layering and interlocking acrylic fibers is used in two very different place mats. A sophisticated plaid mat in layered grays and lime yellow pops when set with white china. And her laser-cut, geometric Corte mats in peacock and fire engine red pack a playful punch. (www.cb2.com)

Eco-friendly dyes are used to make two pretty, mid-century, patterned place mats at Crate & Barrel. Dax features a digital linear print in teals and greens, while Gus has a starburst pattern in muted sunset hues. For a more feminine look, there's Oona, a cotton eyelet-patterned place mat, and the delicate Capiz shell mat, a luminous circle. (www.crateandbarrel.com)

San Francisco-based Lian Ng's PopMat paper place mats are inspired by children's popup books. Made of recycled paper, Ng's mats come in packs of 10 and have a spot to write a guest's name. There are many designs that would work well for themed affairs or just for fun. (www.publiqueshop.com)

At West Elm, find a dramatic graphic place mat inspired by Japanese ink brush art. Also, there's British designer Sarah Campbell's floral-print table linens. A stone trellis design in stone or citron takes the table in a tailored direction, and a denim-y mini stripe heads into farm table territory. (www.westelm.com)

Zazzle.com has a range of place mat designs, from vintage flora and fauna to edgy street art. You can contribute your own design if you're creative; most custom mats sell for around $20 each. (www.zazzle.com)

Or make your own place mats using some of the ideas at www.homemadesimple.com. You can cover a favorite fabric with iron-on vinyl using fusible webbing or decoupage favorite print images on dollar store mats.

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