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.

{ 11 comments… read them below or add one }

Moe June 23, 2011 at 2:42 pm

Wow, that’s a great deal on a beautiful table, and exactly what I’ve been looking for.


threadbndr June 24, 2011 at 11:23 am

Stunning. I would love that table or one like it. A new (to me) table is the next major furniture purchase. I have a wonderful built in buffet, but am still using old hand me down dining room furniture.


Josh June 24, 2011 at 11:54 am

Sorry, fellas, but this table is spoken for! If you really are looking for a table (or anything else) on Craigslist, you should make a custom RSS feed for your preferred search terms. In case you don’t know how to do that, I describe the steps on this post about my buffet: http://bungalow23.com/2009/09/16/antique-buffet-at-last/


Cathy June 25, 2011 at 7:30 pm

I totally agree. Where else can you get (in our case) a solid wood dining room set, big table, 2 leaves, 6 chairs, china cabinet and buffet sideboard for $1,500 (actually only paid 1,200 because she needed to move it out that weekend).

Even though we’ve had it for a year and it isn’t in place properly because we are still finishing our living room / dining room – I still love it every time I walk past it. No new furniture can touch the workmanship and quality except at prices we can’t afford.

We no longer have young children but that’s some good thinking on your part too – for fancy parties, the top will probably have a tablecloth on it anyway and you won’t sweat the small stuff when you are using it with your kids.


Josh June 25, 2011 at 8:33 pm

Right on Cathy! Sounds like you got a good deal on your antique dining set, too.


Allison June 27, 2011 at 9:16 pm

Thanks for the Craigslist feed instructions….now I can have fun items sent to me instead of having to troll through the boards.


Devon @ Green House, Good Life June 28, 2011 at 7:55 pm

That’s the same reason I wish I could buy a new car with an old exterior (or an old car with all new innards) — it would run perfectly without anguish the first time it got scratched or dented.


Nancy July 4, 2011 at 7:28 pm

“paint it white and put a bird on it” crowd, Love it! There are plenty of pieces that need to be painted but I’ve seen on the blogs what appear to be gorgeous pieces that they painted and I know in a few years they’ll be stripping that paint right off!


Megan July 6, 2011 at 6:31 pm

I came over here from YHL and had to comment on the table. I love old tables that have such talent… my parents and other family members all have very similar tables that show wear and tear… or as it truly is, love and the fact that it’s been well used. One of my biggest regrets from an auction is to not buy a table with a similar, but more beat up, surface. For $30. Yes, I should have done it. But I have a perfectly good table (although I think it’s fake wood). Anyway, I love that there are still people out there that will NOT paint wood that has been loved over the years. Now I’m going to check out the rest of your site!


Josh July 22, 2011 at 8:05 pm

The one that got away, eh Megan? It’s tough, but I think you’ve got to miss a few deals in order to really recognize a keeper. Come back again!


Eileen @Cottage Beach House July 15, 2011 at 5:03 pm

I was laughing out loud at your tablemus prime reference. And got a good chuckle from the “paint it white and put a bird on it crowd”. You have a great sense of humor and a great piece there. I am so glad I found your blog. Not everything is meant for the paintbrush!! I will be following along now!


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