Christmas Decorating with Rough Linen.

I said I was going to simplify my Christmas decorating this year and true to my word, I’m not doing that.  You can blame my lack of self control and a new linen tablecloth.

This Post is Brought to You by Rough Linen

When I was 23 years old I went on a cruise with friends over the Christmas holidays.  Being on a boat in the middle of the tropics on Christmas day wasn’t something that appealed to my traditional self, but getting the ticket for half price because someone backed out at the last minute was.

I brought one bathing suit, a couple of pairs of shorts, anti-nauseant and then filled the rest of my suitcase with Christmas decorations.  It amounted to a mini Christmas tree, pea sized ornaments to hang off it and a broken set of battery operated lights.  By the time I’d finished decorating my cabin it looked like my room had been hijacked by an underfunded Clark Griswold.

That was the last time I did Christmas away from home and the last time I was restrained with my Christmas decorating.

This year I was going to keep things really, really simple.  Just greenery, white candles and twinkle lights. The bare minimum. Restrained, simple, elegance.

Then an old Internet friend sent me the world’s most beautiful linen tablecloth and that idea was shot to hell.  I’ve been friends with Tricia from Rough Linen since we both entered into the online world around a decade ago.  I had just started a blog and she had just started making linen bedding based on the sheets she grew up sleeping on – the homespun heirloom sheets of her great, great grandmother.

She sent me some sheets and a duvet cover, I loved them, so I bought her iconic (and often copied) pinafore, then I bought another one and another one, all in different colours.

So I knew when she sent me table linens I was going to love them. I just didn’t know how much or that it would send me into Christmas explosion mode.

So what’s so great about this linen?  It’s the feel of it. The weight of it. The way it drapes. I know a lot of my readers have bought Rough Linen products over the years based on my recommendation and I would guess everyone says the same thing about them.  They’re just beautiful.

You probably don’t think that a lot of designing goes into the making of a napkin or a tablecloth but you’d be wrong. It’s the design, the details, the way they’re hemmed that makes them heirloom quality.  There isn’t a a serged seam in sight.

The natural tablecloth I have has a fringed edge with a double row of stiching around 4″ above the raw edge.

This is much nicer than the pair of Ikea curtains I used as a tablecloth on Thanksgiving this year.


The napkins edges are turned and mitred. Ditto for the placemats.  There is no wrong side on these things. Both sides look equally good.


When I laid the tablecloth on my dining room table it looked so good and so luxurious I couldn’t help myself, I had to see what it was going to look like decorated for Christmas.

So I pulled out some artificial garland from the basement and laid it on top.  I’d love to use real garland on it, but pine sap and linens aren’t the best of friends


Here’s how to make those dried orange slices.

The garland looked beautiful.  So I brought a few more things out.  Maybe I didn’t have to do “completely simple” decorating this year.  Maybe just a little more than simple.

Still old fashioned and basically simple just … MORE.

Before I knew it my entire basement floor was covered in Christmas boxes, decorations and tubs and I was well on my way to having a very not restrained and simple Christmas.

I suddenly wanted rustic luxury. Is that a thing?  It is now, because that’s what I want for my Christmas decorating all because of a tablecloth.

Honestly though, look at how this fabric glows and drapes.

These are heirloom linens.  If you can’t yet afford heirloom linens, don’t worry.  I couldn’t have afforded heirloom linens even 10 years ago.  But do yourself a favour and make them a goal. Or buy small amounts at a time.  A runner, or placemats. Then add to them every year.

(but if you like the moss green I decided on, you should know that’s a limited edition colour from Rough Linen that won’t be available forever)

I tried.  I really had the best of intentions to simplify Christmas this year.

I definitely wasn’t having a sit down dinner over the holidays for guests. That was out of the question. But now I have all this beautiful stuff for setting a cozy, winter table.  It really feels wrong not to use it and show it off.  Like … almost selfish.

Mainly I like Tricia from Rough Linen, but at the moment – I’m having  mixed feelings about  her.

I like that she’s made me feel like a grown up now because I’ve graduated from using curtains or a bed sheet as a tablecloth.  On the other hand I’m  quite upset with her for putting the notion of a big sit down dinner over the holidays into my head.

It was a good attempt, but I gotta be me.  A simple restrained Christmas? I simply don’t have the restraint.

Have a good weekend!





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Christmas Decorating with Rough Linen.


  1. Emily says:

    Oh nice, just stop it. I’ve had several weeks notice before a trip (part business, part vacation) to S. Korea, leaving this upcoming Monday. The Christmas cards are stacked, stamped and ready to go, the presents were shipped to outlying relatives last week, leaving the decorations & cooking for after our return & recovery. I plan to go easy on decorations this year, but Karen, you are not helping at all. Your place is lovely, great job.

    I do plan to spend a day at Dondaemun Market in Seoul, a massive 4 building 6 story complex of everything fabrics & crafts. It is open 24/7 and has a food court. I might not leave.

  2. Shawna says:

    I purchased a summer cover from Rough Linen for myself and loved it so much I got one for my mom and dad too! They find it so comfortable they even take it to Florida with them every year.
    We also have bath linens, curtains and a few napkins and tea towels for the kitchen. They are all beautiful very good quality.
    Next I’d like to order one of the linen shirts. I just wish it wasn’t so expensive to ship to Canada….plus the duty and taxes-ugh.
    Still it is lovely to own a Rough Linen item.

  3. Tracie Berry says:

    Hi Karen,
    I really love how your home has evolved over the years…as I read your post, I saw bits of years past and got excited to go back and grab some new (old) ideas from you. Not sure if I’m a rustic linen kind of gal, but I appreciate how one beautiful thing can turn your whole Christmas decor on it’s head…maybe I have to invest in one small piece to see…anyway, wishing you the merriest of Christmases lovely girl!!

  4. Anj says:

    A lovely snowy day to remember Christmas and New Years on a Cruise ship with Friends and Family. Christmas lights on Palm trees in St Thomas, 50′ long strings of Firecrackers set off all day in Aruba. A trip I will never forget.
    My parents tried last year to entice all the kids and grand kids onto a Christmas cruise this year and it didn’t fly. I think we have to wait a bit, once they are in their twenties and we are paying for them to Cruise with us, they will all be there.

    • Karen says:

      It was a TOUGH decision for me, lol. Ultimately I’m really glad I went because I remember the trip so vividly, whereas if I’d stayed home I wouldn’t remember anything about that particular Christmas. ~ karen!

  5. Christina Houston says:

    OMG, I was totally thinking of my IKEA curtains, I could do that, then you said it! LOL

  6. Dave R says:

    Been there, done that. A couple of years ago I found some cool Buffalo plaid tablecloths at Home Sense. Then I found matching napkins and pillar candles at The Bay. Then I found gold antler candle holders and napkin rings at Pier 1. Surely, I couldn’t use my regular Corelle dishes with all this. So I found some square red and black dishes and bought a setting for 12. Then we added a couple more people to the invite list, but the store no longer carried the dishes. Luckily I found the same ones online and ordered another setting for four and a few extra dinner plates just in case. Then off to the lumberyard to buy a length of rough pine to act as a runner/trivet. Yep. It all started with a tablecloth.

  7. TucsonPatty says:

    Linen virgin here, but I’m almost convinced into trying at least a top sheet for coolness in the summer. They look, however, like they would feel rough under the weight of my side-sleeping shoulder. How/why are they different from 100% cotton for coolness? If it is the looser weave, why do folks like the immensely high thread count of cotton for their sheets? Higher thread count = tighter weave = not as cool and airy? I used to buy all sorts of sets of sheets for my first bed which was a twin so they were cheap. It seems like a lot of the sets were from Sears or Penney’s and some were probably a polyester-cotton blend. It just amazes me that I slept on those now, however. They pilled and were nasty. I did come to realize that 100% cotton is wonderful and is all I wear and sleep on, but I have resisted linen for clothing because of wrinkling. So…next question is – how do you sleep on “rough-ish”, wrinkled sheets? I kind of want to try before I buy. I also now sleep in my childhood cast-iron full size bed, and that size is not available from Rough Linen, so will the queen size sheet engulf the bed? Too many questions, I know. I remember buying a twin sheet set way back when for $10.00! Now I have to tick all the questions off the list.

    • You can try them for thirty days Patty, and return them for any reason if they are not for you. We give you thirty days because they do feel different at first, and you need time to get used to them. Most people never go back, there is something so wholesome about the texture of linen on your skin!

  8. p says:

    Trips here are always um…a trip!
    First I thought “she needs to have Tricia for dinner-I mean OVER for dinner, then I thought, “I love that green linen” then I thought bee? What bee? So I got to do a hunt! It took three times for me to find it and I’m so happy, I want you to hide something for next time :D! (I didn’t say hide a lot of things because I know you had already had that thought and I don’t want to embarrass you)

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