Wildly Wald's wildly popular placemats are making a big splash

There are placemats and then there are Wildly Wald placemats. Made of 18 percent recycled leather and premium faux leather, Wildly Wald has taken what might normally be considered an afterthought amongst the many staples of a kitchen table or dining situation and elevated the placemat to star status.

Created by the company's founder and designer Joanne Wald, the idea for unique placemats might not be original, but the Wildly Wald designs and multi-functional mats definitely are. The brand offers consumers placemats for not only traditional dining settings like the classic 19" x 15" Love Birds placemat ($20, available in red, bronze and gold), a beautiful pair of birds kiss at the apex of the placemat giving it the perfect look for Valentine's Day or other intimate settings. The Taj was inspired by the Taj Mahal ($20, available in black, bronze and brass moire) while The Royal Dragon ($20, available in gold and yellow) combines a customers love for the mythical animal with a touch of class while fun kid-friendly placemats like the Splat mat and Frog (both designs retail for $20) can be used to include the little people in our lives in on the dining experience.

"The mats are a great advantage for any cook or anybody with children," said Wald by phone from her California home. "You can't make them stain, I've tried," she said. All Wildly Wald placemats are made in California and with their faux leather designs they're easy to clean. "Take a sponge and you're off, just wipe and go."

The idea of customizing faux leather placemats for a living came from Wald's need to continue to design and redesign her dining settings. "I have a big love of anything artistic and have been designing all of my life," she said. One Thanksgiving Wald wanted to spice up her table so she used the 10 extra yards of upholstery fabric from a chair and cut out designs to make placemats for that night's dinner. The rest as they say is history. "I just wanted a new look in my house and the placemats came out of an honest necessity," said Wald.

The holidays remain an important theme to Wald as demonstrated by the Halloween-esque Ghost placemat ($20, available in white and in black), "The Ghost design is one of my favorites," said Wald. "I love Halloween and anything that goes with it." She also lists the Frog placemat as another of her personal favorites. "It was clearly the one design that allowed me to go into so many directions." Both the Frog and Ghost have the "splat" shape that works for multiple sized plates and platters.

Wildly Wald placemats are not just for people, there's a pet line available as well. The Scotty, Retriever, Oval Pet Mat and Birds Cat Mat (all $20 and available in multiple colors) have animal cutouts that will surely get your pet's attention while remaining easy to clean (Wald recommends that all mats are cleaned by hand and not in a washing machine).

As the demand for Wildly Wald placemats grow, the company is expanding and taking their signature designs and faux leather style into the world of patio furniture and pet accessories with companies in North Carolina and South Carolina. "People respect American-made products like furniture and table tops," said Wald.

All 20 current designs are available online and custom designs can be requested. "Any of the designs can be made on any color faux leather as per customer request," said Wald. So depending on how you feel or what occasion may be around the bend, Wildly Wald placemats are a great way to give your dining experiences an entirely different look.