Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Table for Big Parties

Dean and I are hosting my family for Xmas this year. It is not a big whoop: just seven people.  Other than our apartment being under construction, the only catch is that our table only seats four people.
The X-Pand: our dream table

The Portica Table from Room and Board

We looked around for a bigger table and only found a couple that we really liked. The X-Pand table from Propeller Modern was what we really wanted. It does not have a leaf, but a built in accordion-like function that allows you to pull the table out to be 18” longer. Super cool. Also $3,500. We debated splurging on it, but decided that we have been splurging on quite a few things lately and have to draw the line somewhere.

Another one that we really liked was the Portica table from Room and Board, with a white stone top. This one was $2,400 in the size and finish we wanted.  We liked the idea of a stone top because, like many city dwellers, we have one table where every meal goes down. That table has to be durable and look nice despite heavy use.

In the end we could not decide on an expensive table under time pressure. So I turned to craigslist. It is my numero uno favorite hobby to troll craigslist for furniture, so I was fine with this solution.

The spindled legs that sold me on the antique table. We plan on buying white, modern chairs for the
table, and set rid of the current mismash of chairs.
The table I choose was $200, an antique from someone’s great aunt’s house in Staten Island. I really loved the spindle legs, which is what propelled me to reserve a City Car Share truck on a Tuesday night and drive 35 miles to Los Gatos, after work, to pick up this very heavy behemoth.  Dean was not super charmed by this situation or the table, but he was a sport and acknowledged its attractive economic qualities.

We forgot to take a "before" picture, but the
mismatched leaf was as garrish as this one.
The table’s big flaw was that the leaf was obviously not original to the table. The leaf was a different color wood, and the grain ran in a different direction than the wood on the table. Which makes no sense to me: if you are going to have a custom leaf made, shouldn’t it match the existing table? Or maybe the granny who owned the table always used tablecloths, as grannies do. Who knows.

Our solution was to paint the table top a dark brown, to complement our dining room walls, and then put 3 coats of polyurethane lacquer on the top. 

It was pretty simple, as long as you remember to let it dry for 6 hours between coats. The “self-leveling” polyurethane did not dry to be glassine smooth, like a still lake, but they are good enough for me (except one paintbrush bristle is fossilized in the lacquer on the north end of the table. I choose to sit on the south end because it is bothering me).  

The table and reflecting tree!

The best part is the shiny surface reflects the architecture of the apartment beautifully. Depending on where I sit I see the built-in china cabinet, the lights from our Christmas  tree, or the amazing front windows reflected on my table.

The reflecting table with our new window coverings from Ikea. Another recent accomplishment: we took
down all of the metal mini blinds throughout the house and replaced them with better window treatments.

David's bum, and our table.
This week Dean and I also hired a cleaning lady for the first time in our lives. The construction dust has gotten the best of us. Ernestina, our amazing new cleaning professional, walked into our house, pointed to the shiny table, and said “me gusta!” Excellent first review!