Downsizing the Dining Table

By , November 18, 2014

Even though we preach the gospel of downsizing on the blog, in our conversations, and by example—even though we take this concept further than most Americans would ever want to, we appear willing to go further still.

Last weekend we hauled home a new dining table.

Michelle’s friend offered us an old oak table. It’s well used, but it’s round and drop leaf. We decided it should replace our current table.

The "new" table, set for lunch (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

The “new” table, set for lunch (Photo: Mark A. Zeiger).

Funny, I hardly know what to call this piece of furniture. I want to write “dining room table,” a throwback to the first family home I remember, which featured the luxury of a distinct dining room, with its eponymous table, and the “kitchen table,” a ’50s era formica and chrome place to eat most of the time, stuck in a nook of that particular manse’s large kitchen. Of the three family homes I remember growing up, that was the only one so spacious. Still, since none of the subsequent kitchens had room for a table, we had but one, and it sat in the dining “room” portion of each house’s living room.

We have this same arrangement in the cabin, although the table space is far too small to be referred to as a dining room. If you trip over the couch as soon as you stand up from the table, you don’t get to call it a dining room, right?

Having less usable surface will force us to behave better. With Aly gone, we’ve gotten carried away, allowing too much stuff to pile up in her vacant place. Our home centers on the table, where we eat, visit, and do much of our work (it is, after all, my “office”). Projects pile up far too fast and deep. Less surface forces us to use what we have mindfully. We won’t always like it, but it’s the right thing to do.

So far, we love it! Until Aly comes home, or company comes, the window-side leaf stays down. Most of the time, the other leaf stays down as well, although it’s handy to add a bit more room for the evening meal when needed. After meals we clear the table and drop the leaf. The extra space afforded by that, and the new lack of corners gives us plenty of room to move. How liberating!

We’ve really only owned three dining tables, not counting the massive one, fashioned from a door, that we inherited from the previous owners of our cabin. That one took up far too much space, and needed to be dismembered and removed before we could fully move in. You can see it in several of the photos on our “Little Christmas on the Homestead” page.

We lived a very nomadic life in the early years of our marriage, following radio jobs from town to town. We moved 14 times in our first 11 years! We were not the sort of people who wanted to accumulate much furniture. Our first table, which folded to a width of about 3 inches, served us until we bought our first house in Juneau, when we bought the larger, rectangular table we just now downsized.

For the moment, we’re using the chairs from the old table. They don’t match the new table well, but with a tablecloth, they’ll do until we find a set of aesthetically pleasing used chairs to accompany it. We can afford to spend the money we didn’t spend on the table to purchase some chairs—unless we find those for free somewhere as well.

2 Responses to “Downsizing the Dining Table”

  1. Norma Walston says:

    I love that the chair cushions match the oil in your lamps. The view is incredible also. Downsizing is great. I’m doing that also in my old age (69).

  2. Mark Zeiger says:

    Hi Norma, thank you for appreciating our stunning decorating sense!

    Actually, the lamps’ glass is colored red (one is only painted, apparently, we have to be careful not to scratch it). Michelle chose the maroon cushions to match the rug, and because darker shows fewer stains! Luckily for me, it also happens to be a favorite color.

    The best feature of our decor is definitely the view!

    If you’re 69, you’re starting early downsizing for your old age! I was so gratified to hear a commentator in her 40s refer to 60s as “middle aged”.

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