Growing up my parents had a vastly different design style then I have now. They loved the modern look, smooth surfaces and floor vases. Every surface was clean and easy to dust. We never used table runners for our surfaces.
Now that I'm able to use my own taste this has all changed. I use table runners on EVERYTHING. I have one (or two, or three) in every room. I even use Native American rugs as table runners in my living room.
They are versatile, easy to wash, and add a home-y vibe that I love!