As a child, one of my Saturday rituals was to clean off the clutter from the top of my dresser (and believe me, there was plenty of stuff on there), dust it, and change the dresser scarf - one of the many items that has gone by the wayside in our contemporary homes. These elongated, decorative textiles were a mainstay on most bureaus but sometime in the 70's they became thought of as 'old fashioned'. I'm not sure why, but they disappeared (except in our house) along with the 100% cotton shirts in the ironing basket.
Recently, they made a comeback with the whole 'shabby chic' trend but I think they can be used with just about any decor if you choose the right cloth. You don't have to embrace the whole look, just add a little vintage element to your room. Simple white ones like this beauty on the left, look great in a more contemporary setting, adding a little interest while keeping a clean look. The more decorative, vintage embroidered ones, like those pictured on the right, create a little antique charm.
Why use them?
Well, I have two great reasons-
1- They protect your wood.
(Setting a glass down on the fabric will help keep those nasty rings from ruining your table)
2- Like all textiles, they add texture and warmth to a room.
Just look at this beautiful handiwork:
You can find dresser scarves at estate sales, consignment shops, and even in our shop! https://www.pleinairdesign.com
Depending on their condition, they may need a little cleaning so here are a few tips:
- fill the sink halfway with warm water and about a teaspoon of mild soap. I like to use Ivory liquid.
- spot any stains with a paste of oxi cleaner mixed with water
- place your cloths in and let them soak for about 1/2 hour
- drain soapy water and fill again with clean, warm water
- do this several times without wringing the cloth, press it gently against the side of the sink
- when water is clear, the soap is out and your cloth is clean
- gently lift it out of the water and roll it in a clean towel
- let it dry flat on another clean, dry towel
- iron any embroidery face down into a towel to keep the 3-D effect of the pattern at its best. most of these vintage cloths will be cotton or linen and can handle a cotton iron setting with steam
- you may use starch if desired-starch always works best when the cloth is a little damp, absorbing into the fibers instead of just sitting on top, flaking off when heated
Of course, you don't have to save these beauties your dresser. They look great as a runner for the dining table, set out with a yummy brunch on your buffet, or placed under a stack of coffee table books. Enjoy!