Dining Table or Transformer?

by Josh on June 23, 2011 · 12 comments

in Dining Room,Journal

It might not be a car that turns into a robot, but what other than “transformer” do you call a table that can change from a 42″ round pedestal to a 102″ five-legged banquet?  Optimus Table?  Tablemus Prime?

Ususally I just call it my dining room table.

I first showed the new-to-me table and chairs in my post for this year’s bungalow blog tour, but I didn’t really say much about them. So this is a follow-up to highlight the amazing and affordable antique furniture finds that are out there waiting for the intrepid deal seeker.  Here’s how you saw the table in that post– and how it usually serves our family of 4– as a compact 42″ round pedestal table.  But wait, it’s more than meets the eye.

table fully compact

When you open up the top, the table can do an amazing transformation adding up to eight original 10″ leaves.

table opened To support the weight of that enormous 102″ surface, the table cleverly deploys a pair of fold-down banquet legs from each end.

table banquet legs

Fully extended, the table can easily seat ten and begins to spill into the adjacent living room.  Unfortunately, I only have six dining chairs so I have to supplement them with folding chairs when we entertain.

table fully extended

Like a lot of the antiques I’ve purchased, including the buffet that shares the dining room, I found this table on the local Craigslist, though this was two hours away in rural Wisconsin.  Ordinarily I wouldn’t have considered driving that far, but a table this flexible, in the right style and finish color was too special to pass up.  The price was pretty special, too: $450, plus a case of beer for my buddy who lent me the SUV I used to bring the table home.

Also like most of my antiques, it’s in far from perfect condition.  The finish is worn in spots, there are water rings, and even what appears to be a scorch mark from the sole of a clothing iron.

Table top detail

For the “paint it white and put a bird on it” crowd, those flaws might be reasons to update the finish in some way, but to me the flaws are part of the charm.  When I see that iron scorch mark, it makes me chuckle to think how upset the person who did it must have been and how I’m sometimes absent-minded enough to do the same thing.  And when I see how the finish is wearing off the tops of the pedestal feet I ask how many sock-footed swipes must it take to wear through varnish.  (The world may never know.)

Worn finish on table leg

Now before I wander any further down this little self-indulgent path saying how “old furniture has soul” and “connects strangers separated by time and space” (you’re welcome) here’s the last big reason I’m happy buying well-used antiques: my kids can’t make them any worse.  If they forget a coaster, it’s not the water ring, it’s just the latest water ring.  And if they scratch the top it’s not the scratch, it’s just the newest scratch.  If someday the table really gets too worn I can always refinish it or just touch-up the places where the finish is too worn to protect the wood.

As for the chairs, they weren’t made for the table, but they are fortunately a very good style and color match to the table, buffet, and other main floor woodwork.  I found them at last fall’s Junk Bonanza and snagged the six of them for $35 apiece.  I’ve seen lots of slat-backed craftsman-style chairs, but the gothic-arch detail on these stood out as a distinctive and distinguished touch.  The folks selling the chairs had them paired with a rectangular turned-leg table that they tried to get me to buy, too.  That table was a good price but I passed on it hoping I could find something that was a better mission/craftsman match. That was definitely the right call.

Now that my dining room furniture is complete, I need to buy or make some table cloths and runners in a few different sizes.  My old table was rectangular, so I don’t have any furnishings that can carry over to the new table– at least not without alteration. It’s no real surprise this transformer will be a little tricky to dress; that’s also why Autobots don’t wear pants.

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