Tuesday, January 7, 2014

How I Switched From Paper to Cloth Napkins


Looking back and cleaning out for the New Year, I forgot about a post I meant to write!
No surprise, but it's perfect for now.

 These photos are some ideas I was trying out for different Thanksgiving place settings. Before hosting Thanksgiving, I took stock of my table linens. Usually, I get some new napkins and switch it up from the previous year.  I've always got some idea in my head for the tables. Last year it was burlap and linen. This year was much the same, but with some pops of color from yard vines.



 I laid out all my table linens in rows by color and the sheer amount of cloth napkins I have amassed over the years was impressive. To be honest, I really only used them at holidays and when we had dinner parties. Summer and pool parties, when we entertain the most, we used paper napkins.

It bothered me that these were lovely, like new and yet hardly ever used. So back in October I made a resolution to change and use cloth daily. I certainly had enough of them and how hard could it be I thought?


We started with a pile put at breakfast to grab and left a basket of them out on the counter during the day.  It's actually been a joy choosing the napkins and placemats and creating nicer table settings at meals. It upgrades the whole meal and I frequently add candles at dinner now also.




I used these old floral napkins I have had forever, and some new placemats I just got on sale at Crate and Barrel the other morning for breakfast. Fun!

Another basket I keep on top of the washer is for used napkins. I do one napkin wash load about every 5 or 6 days.

I don't mind the folding and I do not iron them. I actually find folding the pile of them while they are hot kind of calming and can do it while watching a show or listening to music. It takes about 10 minutes total.



I like the quality it has brought to our daily lives. My kids even love them. My oldest, Jackson grabs a cloth napkins when he takes a plate to his room. Griffin has a little napkin with bees on it he likes to take in his lunch.

I cannot see us going back to paper now. I know many families have always used cloth. I think a lot of us got into the paper rut a long time ago. Perhaps it was growing up in the 70s. and part of the whole TV dinners, frozen foods, convenience thing. It was easy, but it's not so nice and costly too.

 Cloth napkins cost less, add quality to the dailiness of life and another benefit is they are green. Think of all the trees you are not wasting.

I still have paper towels in the kitchen for things that are just too gross to wash out. I go through them much slower though. The cloth napkins are large and are so much more efficient than paper ones. 

Do you have a battalion of cloth napkins that are rarely out of the cupboard? You might find using them daily a joy.

If you haven't gotten into cloth napkins, there are so many pretty choices now to start a collection. I love the Anthropologie ones, like below very much. Their lovely collection of table linens can be found here if you need inspiration.




I'm trying to add some simple pleasures to our life and one of them is quality meal times. I want my kids to grow up thinking food and meals are to be savored and not gulped down in front of a screen.

Here's to living a more authentic life in 2014!

Are you in the cloth camp or firmly with paper? Love to hear my dear readers thoughts on this!


Kim



Anthropologie Napkins




All other photos property of Northern California Style.

27 comments :

  1. Am bit both...If I have a dinner party I try and decorate with pretty Caspari decorative napkins but I do have simple white cloths from Ikea that I can not be precious about but there is something more substantial about it and you are right - it isn't more of a hassle plus the paper napkins take up a lot of room to store as well. I think it is great to instill this sort of habit and mentality and good on your son for picking up the habit so well. It's those little things that add up to a big change! xx

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    1. They do have some very pretty Caspari ones and I have used them when we are outdoors and have lots of guests by the pool!

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  2. Cloth camp! I make my own napkins and a natural linen is my favourite. I've had white but my messy family ruined them in no time. I am not a talented seamstress but napkins and tablecloths I can do, and I agree it makes every dinner a special one.
    Growing up in the 70's we really had all the convenience stuff didn't we, paper napkins, disposable everything, processed food!

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    1. Dani, I love linen too. I wish I could sew! Yes, I think growing up in the 70s all these conveniences were so new, they seemed like the thing to do. We left behind some good ideas though for some sub-par ones! Hopefully we are wising up now as so many of us are appreciating more the quality of life and not the speed.

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  3. We use cloth napkins everyday too and my favourite ones are linen which I do iron. I find the ironing very soothing and I like to look at the smooth fabric when setting the table.
    Your creativity is evident in your choice of napkins and food pairings :-))

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    1. Thanks Hostess. I would iron mine too if I had more time. So far, I have gotten by for everyday with folding them when warm. Not perfect, but good enough! :)

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  4. You're so right about cloth napkins and it really does enhance the whole meal. We only do that like once a week but I should switch. We always have little candles at dinner though. I love it. :) I like that you don't have to iron them either.

    xoDale
    www.savvyspice.com

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    1. Dale, I too love the little candles. I do think that is very European. Do you notice it a lot more there? I have a friend Andrea who said she always set dinner with candles and made a pretty table every night when her kids were growing up. So nice. That inspired me a lot.

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  5. Great post Kim! I try to use cloth napkins and I try to buy ones that do not look too wrinkly so they do not have to ironed! You are right they are so much nicer and so much more practical!

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    1. Thanks Cindy! I agree I look for easier ones too. Cloth is not fancy as we think, just smarter.

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  6. Such a lovely post … and a topic dear to my heart! I am most definitely in the cloth napkin camp … and I am quite happy to find someone else who appreciates the daily beauty of cloth napkins! My kids have all been raised using them. I have galvanized bins organized by color, so it is always easy to pull out a chosen color … and it makes putting freshly waged napkins a breeze!

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    1. Thank you Tamera. I love the idea of bins by color. I may need to do that too. You always inspire me by the beautiful way you live! What lucky kids you have to grow up like that.

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  7. Love photos here - you are a wonderful stylist! I agree, cloth napkins give every meal a lovely sense of occassion, I am loving those brownish ones and love how they are organically lineny crinkly. I have been bad - too lazy to wash and iron so I send to the cleaners which is not terribly eco Im sure. Should just do the linen look and then its meant to be wrinkly

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    1. Jody, thank you! I never thought about sending them out, but sounds smart if you need them for a party and to be ironed nicely. I never thought about not ironing until recently. I saw someone else said they never did, so I tried too. If I do them while they are hot, I couldn't see much difference. And like you said some fabrics just look good like that, like linen!

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  8. We are firmly in the cloth camp here. I have one basket of odds and ends that are great for backyard gatherings, and a lot of pretty sets. Like you, I enjoy setting the table with different dishes/table linens. It makes the most mundane meal so much nicer.

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    1. Teresa, Love the idea of a basket for the odds and ends for outdoors! I may need to do that as I have quite a few of those. I love when people are relaxed about gatherings and set a table with mixed napkins as well. I agree meals are just made that much nicer!

      Thanks so much for the great idea and reading!

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  9. Now this is an idea I can get on board with. I was noticing just the other day how very quickly we go through paper napkins. I just might give this a try & see how it works out.

    I'm adding your blog to my blog roll. Great stuff here!

    Keri

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    1. Keri, Hope you'll let me know how it goes. I rarely buy paper anymore at all.

      Thanks for adding me to your roll. Your blog was perfect today about home! I so agree and loved all the inspiration!

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  10. Cloth napkins are very stylish and environmental friendly too. You have a pretty collection there Kim.

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  11. I love using cloth napkins....it really does elevate the dinner experience. I love your stripe one on your warm wood table...perfect!

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    1. Thanks Annie! Those striped ones came as a mix of patterns from West Elm and I really have used them more than any others. Also like the mixed group and as Teresa said above, they will be perfect for outdoors I think too.

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  12. Hi Kim!

    I love the burlap and linen look with the pops of color coming from produce or the garden. Its so fresh and natural against the wood table and china. Anthropologie has some gorgeous linens! I have some that I use all the time and they wash and wear well. It's funny that people are always taken bake a bit when I pull out the cloth.. "don't do that for US" .. well, then who am I going to do it for?! I always bring them out when the kids are here for dinner. When it's just my husband and I it's hit and miss. W&S and BB have great options too and I also have purchased some in white that I had monogrammed. I use them for the holidays:) The white DOES stain but I can use a little bleach if need be and they hold up well. I press the white but some of the other cloth napkins come out of the dryer and go right on the table.

    It's nice to stop by when I'm not running out to the office! Hope you are enjoying your weekend.

    xxleslie

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  13. Happy New Year to you Kim and your family! I hope it's a great year for you all. You are right - cloth napkins really add something. I like the way you styled your photos and love your linen napkins. I have quite a selection including hand embroidered white ones and those are kept for special occasions but it is a shame to have them in a drawer. Maybe we should use these more often but not every day! The plain cotton ones are more durable.

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  14. Hi Kim! My previous comment didn't save but I'll recap. I love this post. Your styling is lovely and the idea of using cloth everyday is so good. I use them for dinner parties and special dinners with Scott at home but I don't use them everyday. I like the idea of going greener on this one. Your family is lucky to have such a thoughtful (and talented mom ;). Happy New Year Girlfriend. Miss ya!
    xx, Heather

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  15. I love what you have done. I think it's a great idea, and I think I should do it, too.

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