Wood Dining Room Tables
English antique wood dining room tables, oak, mahogany, walnut, the main types of dining tables used in English interior decorating style.
The dining room no longer claims primary importance in contemporary homes. The intellectual or perhaps the gastric distractions of modern times have cast it from its leading place in the scheme of things, and occasionally in small houses and flats it has to serve a double purpose, and bookshelves and bureaux may be found side by side with dressers and sideboards.
Oak Dining Tables
Gate Leg Tables
The best solution for the problem of the small dining room is to have a table that extends, or a double gate-leg table ; something that does not half fill the room and arbitrarily determine by its size the only function of any particular apartment. One cannot use as a sitting room or a library a room in which the only table crowds out the possibility of comfort. The only drawback to the use of the gate-leg table is the rather complicated under-framing which seldom allows the placing of antique chairs or the arranging of legs beneath the board to be entirely consistent with comfort. Two people at least must be prepared to be rather cramped when seated at an oak gate-leg; but its utility really outweighs this defect, for it can fold up and stand against the wall, leading the centre of the room free ; or it may be placed against the wall with one flap extended, thus making an admirable side table for flowers or home decorating accessories.
Draw Top Dining Tables
Draw tables, that is extending tables, in oak possess many advantages, for the ends which draw out and are supported on brackets make the length adaptable to the number of guests.
The earlier varieties of oak draw tables, like the refectory tables, have a firm simplicity of character that makes a room with a rather simple scheme of decoration desirable for them : placed in surroundings that derive their decorative treatment from the eighteenth century such tables would appear singularly clumsy. Plain walls and woodwork are their best setting, although they do not demand a beamed ceiling and a stone-flagged floor or polished boards. Most early oak tables of the larger type are out of place except in fairly large rooms.
Antique refectory tables have their special charm, and in these times their special price, although it is still possible to secure an occasional bargain. There are few convincing reproductions made of the fine early oak tables, and certainly no inexpensive ones. With gate-leg tables there is a wider range to choose from, and there are some excellent copies made too, also numbers of "restored" pieces that need not be scorned because of their mixed origin.
Mahogany & Walnut Dining Tables
From oak we pass to walnut and mahogany, and in these woods we find a number of tables standing on gracefully-curved legs, and we find also that with the establishment of the cabriole leg, the old-fashioned stretcher that tied the legs above the feet has disappeared. Whether this is evidence of a higher standard of cleanliness in rooms, when it was no longer necessary to have some place to rest your feet in case the floor should soil your shoes, or whether the constructional value of under-framing on chairs and tables became void is a matter for the discussion of furniture historians; but greater comfort for dining-rooms was the result of the stretcher being omitted.
Then there are the ordinary and comparatively cheap dining tables composed of two semi-circular or oval ends, with a centre portion that may be removed. The eighteenth century is rich in models well-suited to modern rooms, and the less elaborate Chippendale tables can by the perfect beauty of their proportion lend distinction to any furnishing scheme.
Carved tables can be very beautiful but in a simple room articles that may be described as "collectors' pieces" are sometimes incongrous, for their right setting is a large room where period is followed more or less accurately. This is not a rule, because, apart from the fact that wre cannot manufacture furnishing rules for practical application, a room may sometimes be furnished to throw up or emphasise the rarity or exceptional beauty of one particular piece of furniture.
Wood Table Tops
There is a great charm about the rich polish of an oak table-top, and a well-polished table whether it is of oak, walnut or mahogany is a decorative asset that cannot be ignored. To exchange charm for formality has been the practice for so long that despite the evergrowing use of mats and doylies it will be many years before the all-concealing drapery of stiff white linen is finally abandoned. We should be inclined to do away with tablecloths when we think of all the wealth of reflection for glass and silver, fruit and flowers, offered by the polished table-top.
Next: Dining Room Sideboards.