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)

  9. Susie says:

    Oh my gosh what a beautiful post! I have heart eyes for the wreaths you hung on your bookcases!

  10. Lisa says:

    Karen, Maybe just have a gorgeous holiday buffet table for the occasion of choice: cocktails, brunch, etc. Doesn’t have to be a formal sit down dinner. Happy decorating!

  11. Pat says:

    You are too late with the moss green napkins which would make a perfect gift for my daughter and son-in-law!!! SOLD OUT

    I guess no more this year! Happy Thanksgiving and a Holy Christmas blessing.

  12. Jody says:

    Which came first?…..Your post about the beautiful linens or the SOLD OUT moss napkins? Karen, beautiful photography. Tricia, I assume you’ll read this, I love your linens. I have a pinafore and literally wore it to death after several years with a threadbare hole at counter height. Guess I have some mending to do!

  13. Stephanie says:

    In each picture I keep looking at those floors. I LOVE THEM RAW! and then the linen table cloth–I feel like stripping my 100 year old floors. . . Stunning!

  14. Alena says:

    This summer, I was looking for a straight linen bedsheet that I could use as a top sheet during the warm summer nights.
    The problem was I was very specific on colour as I have cotton bedding from DKNY (I am so NOT into designer brands but I really like the colours (very ocean-y – from darker marine to lighter aqua. It somewhat looks like tie dye (the pattern). It has a duvet cover but no straight sheet.
    I looked online but I could not find anything remotely similar to what I wanted. Then I was at HomeSense one day and for some reason I was lurking in the tableclothoths/napkins aisle and I found a linen tablecloth in exactly the same marine shade I was looking for. Very nicely finished edges, heavier linen; simply there was nothing to not like (including the price of $19.99. So I bought it and I slept under it for most summer. I survived washings with no problem. It really is big enough for just one person but that’s all I needed.

    I have a very pricey linen set in charcoal colour (that I won in an online giveaway from My Scandinavian Home) and I would also like to have something in a lighter colour so I am planning to make my own linen bedding this winter.

  15. Allison Gorham says:

    alas, no more moss green

  16. Pattie Meyers says:

    I’m a designer that steers clients to Rough Linen sheets, and they are always pleased. With the wonderful look, the high quality, but especially the feel of sleeping under linen. Nothing like it. Must be the breathability. Aprons and grease? Yay apron, you did your job. Foaming oxygenated prewash spot treaters are used in my house constantly because they work. And I often sleep under a gorgeous white monogrammed linen tablecloth from an estate sale in hot Texas summers. Feels slightly Grey Gardens wacky and I love it. Linen rules.

  17. Christie Acker says:

    Funny! I finally ordered a custom tablecloth from Rough Linen because of you and I’m having a dinner party to show it off!

  18. Lisa G says:

    Linen convert over here and I’ve recruited more bodies. It’s hard to go back to slimy high thread count sateen sheets (which *always* tear…) and clammy cotton/poly easy-care blends after you’ve gotten used to sleeping on the good stuff. My non-fancy flannel-wearing husband came home from a grueling work conference, flopped into bed to pass out for a full day as usual, and then hopped up like the bed was on fire. “Why aren’t the linen sheets on the bed? They’re the brown ones. The BROWN ones. WHERE ARE THE LINEN SHEETS??” Total panic. True story. (They’re not brown, they’re natural/oatmeal.) I’m always bummed when I hear folks having a bad experience with their linen investment, because they ARE worth it, but linen is still fabric. It’s not made of woven steel cables. It might tear. I would also suggest that what some folks may interpret as “threadbare” may simply be the fine nature of most linen sheets…they aren’t tablecloth-weight in terms of oz. Yes, you will hold them up to the light, and the light will show through. You know, like angel wings. Because that’s what linen sheets are made of, right? In defense of Rough Linen, they offer some of the most substantial oz/gm weight linen options out there, they are no more or less expensive than what you’ll get at Restoration Hardware or PB (the only other two major, mall-style retailers that consistently have them in the US) and the details are pretty damn good (hemming is spectacular, mitred corners, etc.) The fact that they sell their stuff in multiple weights and they TELL you about the differences makes them pro-level as far as I’m concerned. Don’t believe me? See what you get when you buy linen sheets on Amazon. I’ve tried out the bargain-basement 100% linen sold there and it’s still not inexpensive and the quality control is pretty awful.

    • Karen says:

      I just want to mention that Lisa does not work for Rough Linen, lol. That’s quite an endorsement, Lisa! ~ karen!

    • Thank you so much Lisa, I’m touched! We do everything we can to make our sheets the best out there and it’s lovely when that is appreciated!
      All linen manufacturers know that particular customers can seem to encounter a rogue sheet which splits and/or wears far sooner than it should (yes, we do talk among ourselves!) The answer could be to do with manufacture or with usage, so hard to tell. At Rough Linen we have simply bitten the bullet and offer a sliding scale or recompense for ‘excessive wear’. As far as I know we are the only company to do so.

      • Lisa G says:

        Hey, what can I say? I’m just another flax fan over here doing her part for the “buy fewer, nicer things” things cause 😀

  19. Mary W says:

    Your made a tasseled clementine then ate it? You were really enjoying yourself with the dates, nuts, and fruit among all that ‘simple’. It looks so inviting – the perfect way for guests and homeowners to feel. Even one special tasseled clementine to step it up to simple royalty.

  20. Mary C says:

    I would love to buy one of everything from rough linens, but it isn’t in my budget right now. I did see linen tablecloths on h& in the clearance yesterday. I have one linen sheet and am in love.

  21. Barb says:

    I’m available to attend a sit down dinner! Name the date.😀

  22. Beth says:

    My sister turned me on to Rough Linen when she bought herself a robe, then I bought one for my daughter, then I got a pinafore….

    I lurv the moss green!!

  23. Tina says:

    It seems appropriate that you’d publish this column today, my 63rd birthday! So yes, please! I’d love to have the pinafore! It seems appropriate that you should send me one. It will arrive to great fanfare!

  24. Paula says:

    I loved Rough Linen, too. I purchased a pinafore, bread bags (for gifts, too), 1 queen size sheet and 1 king sheet. Last week the king sheet ripped after 12 months of summer only use; I am not a happy customer. Almost $300 Can for one useless, threadbare sheet which I took care of, it was never bleached, nor machine dried.
    Obviously this is a touchy subject for me at the moment.
    Btw – your Christmas decorating is beautiful and inspiring me to get a move on!

    • ecoteri says:

      yeah, Paula – I got a Pinafore and loved it but it stained TERRIBLY.
      luckily I have a friend who loves to experiment with dyes so we dyed it a lovely mottled brown. However, prior to that I was disappointed that the apron was so hard to clean – aprons should be easy to clean.
      Said friend and I ended up making a second Pinafore with longer straps, and again dyeing it (this time with indigo – as I say, the friend loves to play with dye).
      I prefer the longer straps. Rough Linen does offer longer strap pinafores, which I recommend if you wear a Large or Extra Large shirt size (I aint ‘big’ but I have a long upper torso – so the shorter straps bring the pinafore up uncomfortably high)……

      • Paula says:

        I love my pinafore but I don’t use it for anything really messy because I was afraid of cleaning it. Lol, sort of defeats the purpose but it is sweet.

    • Christine says:

      I have the lkea linen duvet cover. Three years old used daily and still perfect…it doesnt have that perfect Rough look but close enough.

      • Alena says:

        Hi Christine,

        Is it the Lindblomma? I thought about it several times but I just don’t like the little ties.

        • Jan in Waterdown says:

          Unfortunately Lindeblomma is no longer available at Ikea, just when I was thinking about doing it…. uch.

      • Paula says:

        Duvet cover would be fine because it doesn’t really get the same use as a sheet. I was informed by a representative that it was expected should be good for 100 washes, I certainly didn’t wash my sheets every three days!

    • Alena says:

      You are not the only one, Paula. A while ago, there was a big thread on Apartment Therapy on linen bedding and while many people were happy with Rough Linen there were also quite a few whose experience was not a positive one. One reader also mentioned the problems with their Customer Service when she wanted a replacement or refund (I don’t remember what the problem was).

      • We do our best to keep our customers happy Alena, and I know no other linen manufacturer with an appeasement policy like ours for when things go wrong. We do tend to ask a lot of questions (because we want to know the answers!), maybe that is annoying.

        • Paula says:

          I would like to acknowledge that Tricia from Rough Linen has reached out to me personally and has resolved my concerns. It is refreshing to still find a company that values their customers and is concerned with their satisfaction. I am a happy Rough Linen customer.
          Thanks Tricia!

    • Alena says:

      Hi Paula,
      I posted a reply for you but I may have clicked a wrong link and it got posted as a regular reply, i.e. not a nested reply to your post. It’s posted a bit down if you want to read it.

    • Cussot says:

      I have a couple of Rough Linen queen sheets in the natural colour and they have worn quite well. But I only use them for top sheets. Too scared to wear them out! I’m sorry your biggie kicked the bucket. What are you recycling the ripped one into? My guess is that some of the colours wear better than others.

  25. Robert says:

    Well this is a very good trial run😊

  26. Robert says:

    I don’t think I’ve ever agreed more to anything you had to say, it’s not only selfish to not show off those gorgeous pieces of linen, it’s criminal! even if I’m not particularly fond of raw edges.
    I do think you went simple this time and more importantly GORGEOUS!

    • Karen says:

      Ohhhh this was just a little trial run. My plans for the Christmas decorating are getting less and less simple. Still not up to “appetizer train” level, but not as simple as I had hoped, lol. ~ karen!

  27. Elle says:

    Ohhh!! Tell me about the bee(?) napkin ring next to the cast iron skillet of eggs…I am a sucker for napkin rings. Perfect with the most perfectly luxurious casual mussed linen napkins, placemats, tablecloth. Sigh… I would like to try linen sheets. Maybe I could use the tablecloth for a sheet. I mean, if you can use a sheet for a tablecloth …

  28. Jane says:

    . . . . that dern tootin’ Tricia . . . ❤👍😄

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