I've always had a problem with tablecloths being used in home staging. 

To me, a tablecloth in an otherwise beautifully staged home looked as though it was trying to hide a tabletop. As though the table surface was something so precious it had to be protected. Or else was so ugly it needed to be covered. 

But now that something called grandmillenial decor is a thing, I'm having to rethink this whole tablecloth issue. 

Grandmilenial style used to be referred to as "granny chic," but now it's just chic. It turns out that wallpaper, wicker furniture, fringes, chinoiserie, flowery slipcovers, fancy chandeliers, chintz draperies, and needlepoint pillows are popular with some buyers.

Currently, there is a demographic profile as young as 25 and as old as 40 who are drawn to this style. They find it both relaxed but refined. It relies on old-school, classical design combined with today's clear colors and a sense of humor about itself. More fresh than frumpy. 

There are pros and cons

The fact that a certain group of buyers is embracing this particular style brings good news and bad news if you are staging your home. The good news is that decorating grandmillenial style can save you money. You can use furniture you may have inherited, pieces you've been told are too dated to appeal to today's Instagram-educated buyers. You can happily use the furniture you bought as a young bride in the 1950s. You can use second-hand furniture that shows some age. You can sew or paint or craft things instead of shopping new.  

The bad news is that part of the homebuying population is not going to "get it." There are plenty of buyers still carrying around the old notion I had about tablecloths and other elements of interior decoration embraced by previous generations -- that they looked frumpy and out-of-touch. Many of these buyers prefer minimalism, and grandmillenialism is the opposite of that! 

When tablecloths work best

The skirted table is one typical element of grandmillenial decor. To know if it is right for your home staging plans, you'll have to consider the look you want to create.

A table draped with fabric will look out of place in some homes. If your home is a sleek, mid-century modern ranch with an open floor plan, tablecloths might not fit your streamlined look. If you're aiming for an industrial farmhouse vibe, the skirted table would look silly there, too.    

Besides considering your home's style, you'll want to consider who your likely buyer is. Even if seniors and retirees are your target market, a skirted table won't look out of place in your staging as long as the look of your house as a whole isn't stuffy and cluttered. Done with restraint, some touches of grandmillenial will speak to nostalgia and comfort. 

There are three kinds of table coverings to consider. One is the small, informal tablecloth, another is the tailored table skirt, and the third is the to-the-floor, draped tablecloth (my favorite). 

Outdoors, a bistro table set for an impromptu snack
is the perfect spot for a casual, colorful,
black-eyed susan fabric covering. 
A layered look is part of the new/old
style. Both above photos: 
April Cornell 
A tablecloth that drapes to the floor
is one way to utilize a table that is less
than perfect or doesn't work with your decor.
A round table with a full tablecloth is a great way to fill
a space without interrupting a natural traffic pattern.
It's the perfect way to fill a corner or center an entry.
Both photos above: Leslie Unruh via One Kings Lane

This is a bold and even tricky move to pull off successfully.
If you don't already have the furnishings to stage like this, and if
your buyers would not respond well to it, it would be unwise. 
This is a prime sample of grandmillenial decorating.
BTW, I love the look! Photo: Furlow Gatewood 
Here is another over-the-top room, not particularly
suitable for most home stagings, but still handsome.
I wanted to show how a round or rectangular or
square table can look with a full-length skirt. 
It's the kind of thing that can add some needed anchoring
to a busy room. Photo: Ware M. Porter

The skirted table is one clever way to create some 
hidden storage. This kind of tablecloth could 
be a DIY project. Photo: Christopher Nutter 

To help you decide

Are you attracted to the idea of using tablecloths in your staged home? Here are some tips.

Don't overdo it. Most homes would look strange having more than a couple of tables with cloths. You don't want to look like you are hosting a wedding reception. 

Choose fabrics that compliment the other textiles and colors in the room. I've blogged about how to decorate with patterns and how to make fabric patterns work for your decorating.  

Make sure the perceived value of your home isn't compromised by using tablecloths. Choose a style that matches the style of your home -- elegant if your home is more formal, casual if it has a more laid-back feel. A lace tablecloth isn't going to fly when you are aiming for that clean Scandinavian look.

Ask yourself if the likely demographics will respond well to the look you create. People living in major metropolitan areas are generally more receptive to trends like grandmillenial decor and an eclectic mix of styles. 

The skirted tablecloth with corner pleats is a good way to transform mundane or cheap furniture like old metal desks, file cabinets, or particle board cubicles.   

Don't use a cloth with a seasonal theme, such as a Christmasy one for photographs taken in December, because if your house is still on the market in January, your MLS listing could look stale. 

Don't use a cloth if you have children or pets that could make a mess by pulling on the edges. 

If you are staging an outdoor table, be sure the fabric is waterproof, like vinyl, and is weighted on top and on the edges so it can't blow away. 

Check that your tablecloth-covered table doesn't make a room look too feminine. The room doesn't have to be devoid of fussy details, but you can't it fill it with pastels, ruffles, florals, curvy furniture and piles of pillows. Herringbone patterns, solids, stripes, animal prints, and geometrics mix well with grandmillenial furnishings. 

If you think a table in one of your staged rooms would benefit from the softening effect of a tablecloth, but you're not sure how to choose one or if it fits your style, consider using a table runner instead. Also, in lieu of a tablecloth, large placemats under staged place settings will work to dress up a table.     

A table staged with stonewashed 100% linen will look
gorgeous to some, and like a wrinkled mess to others.
It depends on your market and the rest of your
home staging. Photo: La Bottega di Casa 
This was the picture from the latest issue of
Better Homes and Gardens that started me 
thinking the whole idea of tablecloths for staging.
I'm not going to try to improve on these instructions
how to make a round tablecloth
, from Diane Henkler,
of In My Own Style blog. Her 
tutorial is complete
and easy to follow, with variations to help you
make one that suits your home.

Get the look, get the book

Well-done grandmillenial decorating represents good taste and even wealth. If you go down this road, study the look in shelter mags and online to be sure you nail it. Better Homes and Gardens offers this advice: "A well-edited design is key to pulling off the grandmillennial look in a way that's more timeless than antiquated. Be selective as you accessorize to avoid an overly cluttered look. Choose fabrics in bold patterns, but keep the color palette tight and consistent so the look is layered and cozy, not chaotic."

Done right, tables covered with fabric can definitely be part of your smart staging strategy. You might find a skirted table is just right for a bedside table, an entranceway, a living room end table, a dining table, or even a table in the bathroom. 

Don't leave here without checking out my three eBooks about homestaging

DIY Home staging Tips to Sell Your Home Fast for Top Dollar,  

No-Sew Curtains and Draperies to Stage Your Home, and 

How to Arrange Furniture  -- A Guide to Arranging Furniture Using  What You Have