Sometimes it takes a long time to find what you’re looking for, but once you know what it is, I have learned to not wait for it to present itself. Rather to seek it out, inquire, let people know what you are looking for because more people than you may realize want to help you find it.
Such was the case with my new-to-me dining room table that arrived at my home last week.
I have never before had a full-size dining room table that was large enough for a full dinner party of more than six people. However, I have never let that be an obstacle to hosting dinner parties, something I love to do.
In my first apartment in Portland, I would serve the dinner buffet style on the small pub table I had and then we would all sit in the living room in any seat we could find. In the first home I owned, a townhouse in Portland, I would extend the pub table and squeeze in four chairs as best as I could, and at my beloved Normandy-style home in Pendleton, I found an oak table in pieces and with the expertise of my father who put it back together, dined on a beautiful square table that could tightly squeeze six, but could not bear much weight due to its fragility (view this table below).
As much as I would have loved to have brought this table with me to Bend, I was fearful it wouldn’t be able to make the journey in one piece, and I also knew I eventually wanted a larger table (and a sturdier one as well). So this table which saw many lovely intimate dinner parties, cocktail parties, a holiday party I will never forget as it boasted all of the food for guests, and all sorts of conversations with individuals from my life in eastern Oregon, found a new home with a family who was as excited to welcome it into their life as I was when I first laid eyes on it nine years previously.
And so I arrived in Bend with nothing more than my small, white kitchenette pedestal table to serve as my primary dining furniture.
Since then, yet again, I have not let the small tabletop prevent me from hosting dinner parties. As I shared this past fall, I simply placed another small table next to my kitchenette table, threw tablecloths on top, and all was perfectly well prepared for a dinner of six. But admittedly, I knew more certainly than ever before, a full dining room table was a necessity in any house that I would call a home.
I have always been drawn to large round dining room tables with a sturdy pedestal. My interest in a circular design began probably ten or more years ago as the shape was inclusive, allowing any and all to engage in the conversation without feeling excluded, but at the same time, enabling anyone to hold the conversation without pressure placed on any one person to speak. No one is placed at the had of the table, which I prefer, and the pedestal eliminates legs and knees from being bumped or ran into.
Or course, the aesthetic beauty of a pedestal table is its grandeur and simplicity coming together to create a piece of luxury in many ways. Of course, the luxury descriptor depends upon the material from which the table is made and the finish. But as I learned with my small kitchenette table, the finish can be changed, having painted the bargain wood white to brighten the space it originally inhabited as both the morning and evening light would shine through enlarges the small eating area.
Upon traveling to France this past summer, I had the good fortunate to stay in a vacation rental in the Luberon which had a pedestal dining room table (see below). I can remember immediately gawking at its size, structure and unique patina finish. The owner shared with me that they had found it at a warehouse and quickly brought it home. I too would have done the same – what a treasure. Needless to say, having had the opportunity to work at this table, I became more than certain that indeed, it was a round pedestal dining room table I would wait until I found to welcome into my home.
I’m like Jane Austen – I work on the corner of the dining table.—A.N. Wilson
Tentatively beginning my search in earnest for a round, oak, pedestal dining room table with leaves this fall, I scoured eBay, Etsy and the local papers. Nearly all asking upwards of at least $1200, I kept looking.
And then I simply let someone who would know people with such furniture to sell what I was looking for, and in fewer than 30 seconds, I was pointed in the direction of the table that would eventually find a place in my home to reside.
At a local secondhand/vintage/antique shop here in Bend, one that I frequent often (I found my bed here as well, as well as these Bavarian teacup sets, and this copper mixing bowl – see below), I simply asked if they would be willing to take my name and give me a call when such a table became available. Keeping a large notebook of customer requests, they said sure; and upon hearing my request, the owner confirmed what I was looking for. Yep, a round pedestal dining room table. “I have two you can look at.”
In two weeks time I had visited his storage facility, was amazed at the fact that not only was one of the tables large enough – 54″ in diamater without leaves – it had two matching oak leaves! And it was sturdy! And not painted! Then, I waited on pins of doubt assuming the price would be sky high. Nope, a fraction of what I had expected, as he shared, few people in the area want these types of tables. Mind you, the table was made in the 1890s, had never been painted and still had all of the pieces. Well, I wasn’t about to debate and after measuring and confirming the size at home, it became the dining table I had been looking for.
As I shared on Instagram last week, in the future, I look forward to pulling out the carpet, laying down oak chevron floors and placing a wool rug, that has yet to be found, down upon which the table will be placed. But at least now I have a dining room table, and future dinner parties can comfortably seat 8 people, 10 in a pinch, as it stretches to 70+ inches in length.
Life doesn’t often fall into place in the order we would prefer, or think would be best. I may still be renting my cottage in Bend at the moment, but I need not put making-this-house-a-home on hold any longer. Someday I will own a home of my own again, and when I do, I can rest assured that immediately upon moving in, I will have a dining room table ready to sit around and enjoy a celebratory dinner commemorating my much anticipated purchase.
Not everyone wants a table from the past. More and more millenials prefer a modern aesthetic which is beautiful as well. However, I have always been drawn to more traditional tables. In many ways, this preference is inspired by my travels to Europe, as well as my own family’s tables – oak, round and with it, a story having been passed down and cared for with many conversations, meals and memories. But as much as I love the oak tables, I also dislike hard wooden chairs, so as you can see, it is the balance of the soft upholestry with the hard wood textures that create a welcoming space for my sanctuary. I’d like to think I am following interior decorator Michael S. Smith’s advice, “Buy a beautiful dining table, well-made upholstery. It’s almost like dressing for success”.
At the moment, I am typing away at the corner of my dining table, tickled to have found it, and reminded that the journey of curating our sanctuary, a true and cozy and restful sanctuary, takes time. And in this case, the wait was certainly worth it.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.”—Ruth Reichl