Hardboard, cork-backed placemats are decidedly Old School. All of my older relatives in Australia and England grew up with them. The appeal for my grandmother's generation was very clear: Hand-washing and ironing cloth linens must have been a real drag. But despite the advent of so many modern conveniences (wrinkle-proof linens, disposable paper napkins, polyurethane-coated tables!) I remain a big fan of these hard placemats.
We use them all the time because they are easy to clean, they protect the table from heat, spills and scratches, and they look nice! You don't have to go with the hardboard mats, though. There are other placemats, made from durable materials that can be simply wiped down and reused.
- Ottoman Bottle Green from Hadley Table, $65 for set of 4.
- Daisy Round from Hadley Table, $65 for set of 4.
- For a more modern look, Cuban Rectangle in Smoke from Hadley Table, $65 for set of 4.
- Faux Bois placemat from MOMA Store, $13.
- Tuxedo Stripe mats and runners by Chilewich.
- Holly Stuart Designs via Quintessence; each mat is $28.
- Chippendale Blue & Gold from Monique Ogilvie.
- Marocco from Monique Ogilvie.
(Images: as linked above)