In the Lap(kin) of Luxury

Many years ago my sister Diane and I found a set of four oversize napkins at a vintage linen shop in Portland. The proprietor told us they were called “lapkins.” Measuring around 27″ square, each lapkin is beautifully monogrammed with the initials KMG and has a lace insert and faggoting around the edges. We imagined them tucked away in a hope chest as part of a young bride-to-be’s trousseau or laid out at an elegant dinner party where splendidly clad ladies and gentlemen sipped champagne from crystal goblets.

We split the set. My two napkins are still neatly folded away in my linen closet. Diane’s, however, are part of an updated window treatment in her dining room. That window treatment was my home dec project during this two-week visit to her home over Thanksgiving:

As projects go, it seemed simple: all I had to do was make two squares of fabric that could be draped on point over a curtain rod before the napkins were added. But Diane wanted the fabric seen from the outside to be yellow to match the paint color on the exterior of the house. (Does this sound a little obsessive-compulsive? Like something I would do? It’s a twin thing.)

The solution was a two-tone square:

I had brought these fabrics with me — part of my stash of quilting cottons — thinking the colors would work well in Diane’s dining room. Isn’t that a gorgeous paisley? Although most of the paisley print is covered by the lapkins, enough can be seen to tie the window treatments in with the rest of the dining room decor:

The dark print is also a good foil for the detail on the lapkins:

Here’s a look at night, with some sparkly Christmas decorations reflected in the windows:

Now I’m inspired to get my lapkins out of my linen closet and transform them into a window treatment in my own home.





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10 Responses to In the Lap(kin) of Luxury

  1. Diane says:

    I remain ever awed by Dawn’s skill. A seemingly easy project as this window treatment threw her some unexpected curves, which would defeat most of us mere mortals. But, she seems to delight in finding a solution! Neither of these lapkins is square but Dawn made them look perfect on the paisley underlays, which are square! Just love my twin to bits!

  2. Reigh says:

    Beautiful job Dawn, as always!

  3. Vickie Rooks says:

    Great project. You both are hilarious. Love that you can understand Diane’s obsessiveness.

    Project turned out very nicely. I love cloth napkins. Have you ever made the ones where you start with two different size squares and by magic end up with a lovely bordered napkin? Having two layers of fabric on my lap is a plus.

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Vickie. Funny you should ask about the bordered napkin made with two squares as I am planning to make another set of squares for Diane’s dining room windows using just that technique!

  4. Elese Claussen says:

    Just a note about your “lapkin”. A 27″ napkin is a formal dinner size napkin. Usually linen. Today you would usually find them in a fine dining restaurant, cruise ship, or possibly at a special dinner at my house. Or, maybe, at Buckingham Palace. 🙂 😉

    • Dawn says:

      Hi Elese. It sounds like you enjoy using cloth napkins. I do, too! The only paper napkins we have in the Portland White House are for cocktails, and I even have some vintage cloth napkins for those. Do you also have a collection of napkin rings?

  5. anna says:


  6. Carolyn Browning says:

    How pretty. You are so creative. Really ties the room together.

  7. Sandy says:

    OMG Dawn. You never cease to amaze me! That window decoration is exquisite! The paisley print really makes it shine.

  8. Melody says:

    Lovely! It’s very fortunate that they are just the right size!

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