The dining room table is to me -well, after the bed- the most essential piece of furniture at home. I bought the one I have in this house a million years ago for a rental house in Greenwich, CT to go into the eat-in kitchen as a rustic, sturdy, and practical table. It was cozy and comfortable for weeknight family dinners set without tablecloths or fuss. Platters of food in the middle to pass around, and memorable meals that created burns and kinks and unremovable stains.
It was the place for hours of homework projects and recipe writing. Where I spread out layouts for magazine articles and made albums of family photos. I started my gourmet food company on this table, trying out endless pots of sauces, mayonnaises, ketchup, and mustards and packaging them at home to use as samples. Since then, the table has traveled with me to my other rental houses, sometimes in the kitchen as it was meant to be, other times in the library and even on the terrace. This table has served me well….
When I moved into this house, I placed in the dining room and use it always covered with tablecloths; the rustic farm table look is not the most appropriate for a Georgian dining room. But still, it has held up, and I am holding on.
But life goes on and needs change; I want a larger table to be able to accommodate more people comfortably. I want to be able to sit a group of 12 but still have cozy and comfortable sitting for 8. The solution? A topper. In this instance, semi-permanent… I can still change my mind.
Which adds all sorts of new problems to my entertaining issues. Growing pains indeed. The plates, glasses, napkins, cutlery, and accessories I have collected are mostly for 8 people. 12 is definitely digging deep into the china cupboard. The good news is that mixing it up is part of the fun (and challenge). Mixing two sets of six to create interesting table settings without having to purchase all new things.
Tablecloths get doubled, so they all reach the floor and overlap, making the table luxurious and plush. There is more space in the center for flowers and nicknacks, which is super fun and a way to show off my collections. Yet, everyone is close enough for great conversations. I can’t wait!
If you decide to enlarge your table, think about how the table fits in the room. Obviously, a square room allows for a round table; in a rectangular room, an oval will fit better and look more elegant. Give enough space for chairs, consoles, and buffet tables and for people to be able to walk behind the chairs. You don’t want to be too snug against the wall.
You also have to think about the other entertaining rooms in the house and have enough seating for everyone when the group of 12 comes around.
Always remember to keep the centerpiece low enough for people to see each other across the table and the candles high enough to glow and sparkle beautifully.
It is an adjustment to go from 8 to 12. This larger number of people also changes the menus a bit. Cooking for twelve needs more thought and planning, especially if budgeting is an issue. Also, consider how the food will be served: buffet style, passed, or plated. Is there enough room in the dining room for a buffet table or console? Is there room for the help to serve, or are you putting platters on the table for everyone to serve themselves family style?
In my case, the dining room looks just fine with this larger table. Even if you have been here before, you probably won’t notice. Is it absolutely perfect? No. Eventually, I will find the perfect table, but for the moment, it gives me great pleasure to have more room to do the things I love.
And with this, I leave you.
The Serial Hostess
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