Q: My mom gave me her old dining table set — the one I grew up with — along with a big stack of vintage tablecloths. Mom thinks I need to have a table cloth on it at all times to protect it. But the wood top is so beautiful, I want to see it. She's afraid of scratches and wear and tear. But I don't care if it gets scratched. What do you think?

A: Your mom's tablecloths most likely did protect the surface for all these years. But I agree with you. I enjoy beautiful wood and would want to see it. A simple, bare table for entertaining, especially for summer dining, is a beautiful trend for place settings right now.

Ask yourself: Is this your everyday kitchen table or is this your formal dining room table just for special occasions? And how often does your mom visit?

One idea is to use the table however you see fit, and when your mom comes over, bring out your favorite of the vintage tablecloths. It's your table now, so you should be able to use it any way you'd like.

For an updated look to the traditional white tablecloth, find loosely woven table linens in natural colors so you can see the wood through the fabric. Square tablecloths placed on an angle show off the wood top at the corners. Or layer fabric table runners made from an unused top bedsheet with creative materials like bamboo or mesh, along with placemats.

My favorite thing lately is to use table runners horizontally and spaced under the place settings. This idea adds color and accents to your table as well as protects like placemats. You can layer additional colors with your dinnerware, placemats, napkins, or twine or ribbon wrapped around twigs and flatware.

Good luck with this. Let me know how it goes.

Have a design dilemma? Jennifer Adams is an award-winning designer, writer and TV personality. Send your questions to AskJennifer@JenniferAdams.com or on Twitter: @JenniferAdams. For more design ideas, visit Jennifer's blog on her website at www.jenniferadams.com.