Most people, had they not considered the subject seriously, would place the dining-room table among the things which give little scope for beauty of line or colour, and it has been customary to hide what was considered its unavoidable ugliness under as voluminous a tablecloth as possible.
The charming effect of a gate-legged table in the centre of a Jacobean room. Such tables are moderate in price and most suitable in rooms furnished in certain "oak " periods Bartholomew & Fletches Photo, Booker & Sullivan
An interesting example of an old Charles 1. withdrawing table, with a double top. The underneath leaves pull out and the top drops down between them Druce & Co.
It was impossible, however, long to enjoy the beautiful chairs and wonderful sideboards of to-day and not to see that tables must be bad to coincide with them; hence the plain mahogany table that had to be kept covered up is giving place to something very different in design. It is to the old models, of course, that we must look for the finest patterns, and of these one of the earliest and most interesting is the Charles I. with drawing table, as it is called. It has a heavy double top, of which the two under-neath leaves - which divide in the centre - pull out, and the middle leaf drops down between them. The legs are very quaint, and are known as 'bulbous," to describe the ponderous spheres that bulge upon each. They are connected by side stretchers. Truly a pleasing object is this table, and well adapted to harmonise with the picturesque chairs of the period which are so popular. These tables, however, have certain dis-advantages which make a modernised re-production in some ways preferable. One is the height. They are about one inch and a half higher than the ordinary table, which measures 2 feet 5 1/2 inches high. A1so some people find that the side stretchers age in the way of the feet. Adaptations of the design are, therefore, made with cross stretchers underneath, and the table itself of the ordinal v height. and these are really preferred to the originals
A Harmony In Mauve And Gold
One is glad to say that it is now recognised that good design and workmanship are all-important, and that antiquity is a secondary question. It is merely a metter o sentiment, for the writer knows of a recent case where a table was actually sold at a shop for an old one, and neither salesman nor buyer discovered that it was a reproduction. When it was found out afterwards the firm wrote and told the customer, but the latter decided to keep the table. He realised that he had got something that thoroughly pleased him, and that he could enjoy, and this, after all, is the chief thing.
Next in point of interest come the old refectory tables, which are being more and more used. Here buyers have to pay dearly for antiquity. For one of these tables, twenty-eight feet long, £800 was recently asked ; but smaller and very delightful ones can be purchased for about £2.0, and copies for even less. These tables have one great merit - they are so narrow that they save a great deal of space in a room. They are also, for this reason, pleasant when diners are carrying on conversation, and are adapted for beautiful schemes of floral decoration. It goes without saying that these old tables need simple arrangements of flowers. An old blue bowl or soup-tureen looks as well as anything when filled with flowers.
Charming as they are in themselves, however, neither of these tables will look well in a room with a mahogany sideboard and Chippendale chairs, as they are both of oak, and are, of course, in feeling and decoration, totally out of sympathy with the later period. The old tables of this date are, nevertheless, quite as delightful in their way, especially those made in three parts so that they can be divided up and used as three separate tables.
Another fine specimen of a genuine Charles 1. withdrawing table of fine workmanship, with characteristic bulbous legs, connected by a stretcher
Druce & Co.
Sometimes each of these tables has a centre leg, and sometimes they have four tapered legs at the corners. The end tables are rounded so that when used separately and placed against the wall they form a semicircular shape. These tables are of inlaid mahogany, and a fine reproduction in the Sheraton style can be bought for about £ 17.
Round tables are, of course, very much liked, and in a Georgian room one sees them with ball and claw legs. Sometimes the curved top part of the leg, technically known as the "knee," is also carved, and has a very handsome appearance. The ordinary square-topped expanding table, which many people prefer, is not very expensive. One measuring six feet by three feet six inches can be had for L5 5s. Another very good model, measuring eight feet by four feet, and with square, tapered, inlaid legs, costs £7 10s. This is designed to accompany Chippendale furniture.
For dinner-parties, however, the growing tendency is not to use one large table, but several smaller ones. Dividing up the party in this way into several groups seems to make conversation easier.
Both for this, and for quite small dining- rooms, gate-legged tables are much used. Old ones are not difficult to get, and are very moderate in price - from about £2 1os. It is good to hear of the return to favour of these tables, for they always give a delightful air of comfort and picturesqueness to any room.