Dining Room Changes

And as dizzyingly as it came, Valentine’s Day has passed. Le sigh. Having already gone out to celebrate at our favorite Italian BYO in the city on Saturday night (in a move to avoid the V-day insanity that no doubt plagued all restaurants last night), Boyfriend and I had a yummy home-cooked meal for two last night. Well, for 3. Fitz definitely thought he should get in on the action. And I can’t blame him, because we made fondue out of crazy delicious cheese (one had two X’s in the name, which got yesterday’s song back in my head) which made the whole house smell delicious, and dipped in crusty bread, red peppers, apple, and pear. It was so good. We used the electric fondue pot my brother and sister-in-law got me for Christmas a few years ago, and then watched “Moneyball” with Brad Pitt. Not, you know, with Brad Pitt because that would make for one awkward Valentine’s Day.

Dinner was made more special not only by the dozen long-stem red roses Boyfriend brought home (he clearly is unfazed by flower-cost-inflation), but because we were eating at our NEW (old) dining room table. The table is my dad’s old drafting table, so while it’s new for us, it’s definitely easily over 30 years old.  We officially made the switch over the weekend, so we’ve had breakfast and dinner a few times, but this was the first important meal.

As promised, here are some before and after pictures of the whole shebang:

This is the bar set Boyfriend had previously. It’s really beautiful dark wood, and very well made. It’s perfect for a bachelor, which he was when he bought it. It also happens to fit the space perfectly. We don’t have so much a dining room as a dining space, an area situated between the living room and kitchen. I really didn’t have any major objections to using it, I just kind of wanted to drag my dad’s table out of storage and give it some proper love and attention.

Thankfully, we have an entire, huge room downstairs adjacent to the guest bedroom that is empty that Boyfriend and his dad are planning on turning into a bar area. His dad is super handy and built a custom wine closet and marble-topped bar for his other son, and this table and barstool set will not only match the decor in that future bar space, it will make more sense to use there. That’s a huge undertaking, that room, and I’ll definitely keep you posted once things get underway.

I should also give thanks for the fact that Boyfriend is perhaps the most agreeable human being on the planet and is very hands-off when it comes to decorating/design. When I said, “Hey! We’ve only been dating for 5 months and I don’t live here but let’s paint your bedroom dark gray!” he said, “Cool!” When I said, “Hey! We’ve only been dating for 5 months and I don’t live here and we just painted your bedroom dark gray yesterday, but let’s paint your bathroom blue!” he said, “Cool!” When I obsessed over the pendant light from West Elm he gave me free reign over changing the ceiling fixture out. When I bring home blankets and throw pillows and magazine baskets and old maps of Paris and decorative vases and candles that smell like macarons, he immediately says he likes them and compliments my design aesthetic. If I were maniacal I might test his patience and bring home something truly hideous or borderline ostentatious just to see if he would snap, but to find someone that not only lets you do whatever you want to their house but likes whatever you end up doing is like a gift from the Relationship Gods and I’m not trying to mess with it.

So given that we were switching the dining room table out for something much lower, we’d need new chairs. This sparked a crazy search for reasonably priced dining chairs that were both simple and attractive. I considered buying replica Bertoia wire chairs, but the fear of waffle-butt kept me at bay. I’ve always loved these Emeco Navy chairs, but at over $450 a pop, they just weren’t a realistic option.

Enter Overstock.com. Purveyor of cheap-priced home-goods, provider of my coffee table, patron saint of $2.95 shipping, regardless of what you’re buying. I found these white metal side chairs and decided they were similar enough to the Emeco chairs without being direct knock-offs that I wouldn’t feel bad about buying them. Where the Emeco chairs have 3 back rails, the ones from Overstock have 4.

Obviously there are minor quality differences between these and their inspiring originals. But they were $111 for a set of 2 when I bought them, and I had a coupon from Overstock for 10% off furniture with free shipping. Which means I got 4 chairs for the price of less than half of ONE original. And they came in boxes almost as tall as me, fully assembled, for free. When it comes to shipping furniture, that’s unheard of. Oh, Overstock. I love you so.

So with the chairs purchased it as time to reassemble my dad’s drafting table. That took us some time because obviously it didn’t come with instructions and Boyfriend and I were left to our own devices trying to figure out which knob unscrewed which beam and how the hell we were supposed to lower it from drafting-table height to dining-table height.

The height is controlled by two beams that sit in between the legs that make up the base, and when the table is lowered as low as it will go, those beans are lower than the base of the table. Which means it can’t sit on the floor or balance. Our options were to saw a few inches off the beams to make them lower than the legs so the table was usable, or just not use it. After some tears and some persuasion from Boyfriend that he wasn’t literally hacking my father’s memory to bits with a hand-saw, I relented. He took off about 3-4″ from each beam (in between the two angled legs on the base) and viola! Dining room table.

Please ignore that there are only 3 placemats. IKEA failed me for the first and only time in recorded history.

The chairs are surprisingly comfortable, but I ended up added gray chair pads from IKEA to add some extra padding.

The table was my dad’s main drafting table. He painted at it, sculpted at it, worked at it. There are marks, scratches, dings, paint drops, and even finger print marks on the underside where he must have put his hands while using varnish or sealer of some kind. It is far from the brand-new surface of the bar table we were using, but to me it is perfect.

And I can’t imagine a better place to eat.

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February 15, 2012 / design / LEAVE A COMMENT / 23

23 comments

  • It’s well used and again, well loved. You have a wonderful sense of design and a Boyfriend sent from above.

    • I know, isn’t he? The table is awesome. Can’t wait to have you over for dinner!

  • Awesome change! Love how you repurposed the drafting table, it looks so great with your new white chairs. Great find! Have never ordered from Overstock but am browsing their area rugs all the time in hopes of finding one for our living room.

    • Definitely check them out! I’ve never had a single problem with them, and their prices are so reasonable. I’m actually looking for a new rug, too! Thanks for the compliments, Nina. :)

  • Love the new look, Erin – so light and fresh! Using your Dad’s old drafting table as a dining table is inspired, not to mention a great way to honour his memory and keep it alive. You must feel so close to him sitting at it.

    I once saw a thick oak dining table into which kids had been encouraged by their parents to scratch names, drawings, etc. It looked amazing! :D

    I actually considered the same style of chair in aluminium for our dining area but my husband is a little harder to convince (make that a lot!) than your sweet boyfriend.

    What a lovely V-Day you both had! Cosy nights in are the best. :)

    • It definitely opens the space up more, and I love thinking how happy my dad would be that it’s finally getting some use after sitting in storage for so long! I love the idea of letting kids mark up a table, though I wouldn’t let my future little ones mess with this one, haha.

      You should just buy the chairs without your husband knowing. ;) Is that wrong? Haha, I bet he’d love them once he saw them, and then you’ll get the satisfaction of not only having nice chairs, but knowing you were right along! That’s what a marriage is all about, right? :)

  • Oh, I am practically skipping with glee after reading this. I am totally and completely thrilled that you used your dad’s drafting table for a dining table. Thrilled. What a wonderful, wonderful thing! Everything looks so nice and fresh too (white walls would help, hmmmmm?!), but the best part is the gorgeousness of that table and the connection to your dad. love.

    • Thank you so much, Lauren! Considering I love your dining room table, this is a big compliment. I’m beyond happy to be using my dad’s table, too. And THANK YOU for suggesting white walls! I was thinking exactly that. The problem is that everything is open plan on this floor, so if I paint the living room and dining room right, the kitchen will have to be painted white. It’s a big undertaking. But one I think would open up the entire house. xx

      • Hmmm…granted, I haven’t see the whole layout of the apartment, but given the little snipped we see in these photos, what about white everywhere else and a great pop of color (gasp!) on the cabinet wall? Maybe?

  • I LOVE that table. What a sweet memento to have! Love the changes to your dining area, Them seem….French :) Maybe its the place mats

    • *they!

    • I love that you think it looks French! French country, right up my alley. I think you’re right, I think it’s the placemats :) Thank you, Holly!

  • Everyday I love you a little bit more:)

    You know, I have often used reclaimed rococo wood as table tops/kitchen tops. They often come from science labs or other rooms in schools and are full of scratches and engravings of students. I love reclaimed stuff. I must tell you it’s really expensive.
    On a recent job, I used some reclaimed wood. It was full of chewing gum which took ages to get off.

    What a transformation your dad’s drafting table made to your kitchen interior. It literally transformed it from a rather darkish eating area into a bright, light and spacious setting.

    Sorry J, I prefer it 100% and with those chairs it looks great. Very impressed with your young man, both in view of Vday and his letting you decide on decor matters. Good choice girl!

    • Oh you. You’re so sweet. I’m happy you like the change! It really does open up the space and change the rest of the first floor. I felt bad about making J disassemble his dining table but he didn’t seem to mind, and he can’t stop raving about the new set-up.

      I’m surprised reclaimed stuff is so expensive. It’s only because it’s in vogue right now. In theory it should be cheaper than buying a brand new table, but everyone is really into the vintage, distressed, industrial-chic thing right now, so it’s upped the cost right now. Yuck about scraping gum off a table! Kids are so gross, aren’t they? Just know that I never did that in school so none of that gum was from me :)

  • Forgot to mention that I’m really really really sorry IKEA has let you down. I hope you recover soon!

    Your dad would be proud! I love the way you honour him:)

    • Ha, thanks! I think they were doing some sort of major redesign of the store so there were a bunch of missing sections. I already had two of the napkins/placements/towels and wanted to pick up 2 more but could only find 1, and it wasn’t even where it should be. Womp womp.

      Thank you for the comment about my dad :)

  • OH, Erin, I so love how it all turned out! Your dad’s drafting table, the white chairs, and your dad’s painting hanging above it all is just perfect. Is it ok for me to say that I hated the other table? That table was not representative of you at all. But, of course as you say, it was there before you. This new setting is you, which is to say it’s super stylish (of course, the BF would love it). The absolute best part: The table belonged to your dad, and it has amazing patina and a beautiful story attached to it. Take a bow, E!

    • Haha, it’s totally okay for you to hate the other table. It really wasn’t awful, just not my taste and too indicative of his previous bachelor-hood. It’s still going to get some use, so I think I’d feel worse about asking J to swap it out if it wasn’t. I’m glad you like the new one so much! I spent forever trying to think of the word “patina” and it my brain couldn’t remember it! Thanks for that, darling! xo

  • Awww so sweet! I love that table. And I had an image in my head of you sitting at that table with your grandkiddies telling them where all the paint smudges came from.

    Properly useful as well as I assume you can tilt it if you want to do some actual drafting??

    Hate the old table too (sorry Jeff). But bachelor ware. When I moved into R’s he had the most ridiculously small kitchen table with burgundy legs and lime green chairs that his parents had dumped on him. We managed to palm those back to them once he got the decent table from the ex.

    As you know I’m not so lucky with being given free reign and he told me that his allowing me to have a dressing table is a sign of his love for me as he woudn’t let the ex have one as they’re ‘too girly’.

    sooo badly want that fondue. Sounded awesome.

    Le sigh. :o)

    • I love that image! I can’t wait to tell my kids and grandkids about the table. I didn’t even think that far into the future, but I’m certainly loving it now! The table definitely retains the ability to tilt, but lacks a ledge on the bottom (we took that off) to keep papers or what not from sliding off. Never say never though!

      Burgundy and lime green? Together? I can’t even. It’s like a badly colored eggplant. Good thing you got rid of those and have a normal table again. I think I’d lose my appetite sitting at a table in that color scheme, especially if it was small enough that I’d be sitting on top of the other person. You are a survivor, my love!

      Haha I remember R’s comment about the dressing table. I’d take it as a good sign! But I’m also the type to ask for an inch and take a mile, so I’d be subtly changing things out without his permission, haha. Luckily, J poses no objections. I think I’d combust if he did. Le sigh ;)

      Come over for fondue next time! There was plenty to share! xo

  • […] a new coffee table, swapped out the living room light fixture for a dark gray drum pendant light, changed his dining room entirely using my dad’s old drafting table, and have added and subtracted about a million […]

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  • What a wonderful table!