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August 29, 2007

My favorite corner of the house

In this month of turning my rented house into an actual cozy home, I had to address the dining table situation.

My dining "room" is exactly 15 inches wide by four feet long. It isn't a real dining room, of course, or even a dining nook. This space sits at the end of the long living room (now with wood floors! love you, wood floors!) between the doorway to the hall and the kitchen wall. The kitchen in this house is so small there's barely room in it for a garbage can, and definitely no room for a table.

Toward the very end of my marriage I acquired a rockin' Burke tulip-base table and four star-based chairs (the graphic designers are all nodding right now, everyone is is going, "Burke? Star tulip whatsit? Huh ...?") but as much as I love that dining set, it's just too big for the house I'm in.

burke-table-chairs.jpg
Blocking the flow of chi, and cats.

And along with its massive coolness factor this set is also old, built back in the days when Americans did not have such ample behinds for padding convenience. Do you see where this is going? While I love that Burke dining set and I appreciate its mid-century modern vibe, every time I sit in one of the chairs I worry it's getting tiny little stress cracks in the fiberglass and bringing down the resale value.

That's not very homey, homie. My expensive antique was basically a catch-all tabletop for mail and the chairs made excellent cat beds.

Finally, I realized this was just not good for my homey feng shui. I disassembled the table, packed it up and will decide what to do with it someday. Today is not that day. After months (and now years!) of aggressive decluttering, my house is really pared down (for me, let's be realistic here.) But I'm just not ready to decide what to do with the Burke dining set. I'm attached to it, it was the biggest purchase I made back when I was trying to make my home with Mr. X into a little shrine of married happiness and there's something sad and hopeful about that table and apparently I need more growthy before I know what the hell to do with it. Or therapy. Or wine!

For now, though, I wanted a small and cute and very affordable table and chair set just for the "dining room." My requirements: The new dining set had to be small but sturdy, inexpensive but not look cheap, and something I could haul home and assemble on my own.

I found it at Mecca. Um, I mean ... Target:

teensy-dining-area.jpg
Even the painting is helpy. hehehehe
Thanks so much to reader Pam who found info about that painting online here for those who were asking. You'd think that as its owner I would have had more information but uh. Nope. Thanks, Pam!

This three-piece set has a round wooden table with adjustable fold-down sides and solid wood chairs. (In this image I have only one side of the table folded down, the side that is flush against the wall.) I got it on sale for $179. ONE HUNDRED AND SEVENTY-NINE DOLLARS. For all three pieces! Can you believe that? (It's not on sale on the website, but even at $229 it's a great value.) I often stress out about buying new stuff, since I think I should stop contributing to consumerism, I should be fiscally responsible, etc. etc. (See: "Still have not purchased coffee table.") but I did the math, and $179 is like a month and a half of smoking money ... so yay me for quitting smoking. (This is how I justify shoe purchases, too, in case you're wondering.)

And it's important to have a nice place to eat your dinner. If I have a big group of guests over we always eat outside at the long table on the covered patio, it's definitely the outdoor dining room. But for just me, I was tired of coming home and having dinner on a TV tray by the sofa or -- fine, I am admitting this -- eating standing up over the sink. YEAH I SAID IT. Total chick-flick movie freaking cliche ... you know those movies where they show the girl before she gets the makeover, sad and alone and eating dinner on the sofa, cue sad music. Then she gets a good makeup job and ditches the shlumpadinka clothes and she gets the guy and one can only assume dinner alone never happens. The end, cue montage and happy music.

ANYWAY.

The wood in this dining set ($179! For a whole table and two chairs! Still shocked!) is real wood, not pressed particle stuff, and the stain is a deep espresso color. The set is "counter height" which means it sits up higher than a regular dining table but it's slightly lower than pub table height. Most of the other tables I looked at were pub tables, and I'm about four inches too short to feel comfortable in those chairs.

My little three-piece dining set is sturdy, was very easy to assemble, and I got it home in the Jeep with just a little of it sticking out the back window. It doesn't have the coolness factor of the Burke dining set but let's be honest here, I am a divorced woman in my thirties who enjoys knitting, wine-drinking, and taking pictures of my extensive herd of cats. CAN I REALLY BE ANY COOLER? This dining set also fits perfectly in my space, and it feels really solid and -- most importantly -- it fits me and my full-butted American self! It's cozy for dinners for two people, and perfect for a nice dinner alone, too. For under $200. That is crazytalk.

Cue happy music!

frankie-new-chair.jpg

Posted by laurie at August 29, 2007 6:05 AM