Wednesday, September 21, 2016

These tables gave me an identity crisis.

I read many more blogs than my participation on this site would imply.  The reasons for that are the subject of a different post I probably won't write, but that's not the point.  I'm using that to introduce this idea: just because you brought something into your home, it doesn't mean you have to be shackled to that decision.

That's paraphrased from an episode of the Chris loves Julia podcast.  I tried to find the exact quote.  I spent over an hour listening and skipping through past episodes.  I know it's from an earlier episode, but time won out on the specifics.  Shackled sounds harsh, but it's out of context and I'm setting this up terribly.  Hang in there.  It's not a novel concept, but it's also something I can't admit to realizing until I heard it.  It was groundbreaking, and admittedly, I'm a very detached person.  I rarely associate objects with anything - to the point I've been called flakey or frivolous - so to hear other people share the same sentiment was comforting. 

Now that there are words to my mantra, I can stop procrastinating this post.  

I built my sister a set of side tables.  Just as with this post, I procrastinated them for weeks.  Also for that reason, this post is not a tutorial, but a recap.  I took no pictures in the process.  Weeks spanned between when I kicked around wood scraps for tabletop designs and the week of completion, where I timed the four hours between coats of paint.  I was running these that close to the wire.  

She liked the tables in my guest room, but it's uninspiring to repeat.  I aimed to incorporate the lines and angles in a different way.  I didn't consider how the grain would work with it, but in a happy accident, I really like the way it does.  Working with 45-degree angles because math is hard, I was able to use scrap pieces of 1x6 board to make the top.  The center insert is two tinier slivers of 1x6 boards, forced into the gap.  The stain is Minimax Honey, the same we used on our closet floors.  Also like the closet floors, I applied with an old rag so the application was lighter - and much nicer - than the heavy dose of the brush.

The legs are 2x2's with a nice little taper at the bottom that was much more difficult in execution than intended.  It looks smooth and uniform here, but I assure you it is not.  Smooth, yes - I sanded these a lot.  Uniform, no.  I cut 10 legs and chose the closest 8 for the two tables.  I had intended on measuring - following a tutorial from Ana White's The Handbuilt Home, but the process didn't translate to 2x2's.  The width of these made it tricky.  I eyeballed these and got close enough.

The shelf is a 3/4-inch piece of plywood with 1x2 strips between the legs.  That's an idea from a different tutorial within the same Ana White book.  When she noted she wanted a shelf, I knew I'd have to paint.  I don't have the finesse to not rely heavily on caulking to smooth my mistakes.    

I am in love with these tables.  The combination of paint and stain is really great.  The paint is leftover BM White Wisp, a color I intended for the top part of the dining room in the background.  After painting a coat, Zach asked if I started painting.  It was then quite obvious the paint color was too light.  On these tables, though - it's fantastic.  It's white without being glaringly bright.  It's crisp without stark contrast to the darker tops.

And those tops.  I never expected to love the honey stain as I do here.  Maybe I should have, it is very similar to our floors.  I fell hard for these tables.  If I wasn't SO into the tops of the bedroom tables, I might have swapped them.  I did a photoshoot with them.

Here's where I bring it full circle: just because you brought something into your house, it doesn't mean it has to stay there.  

Something about them does look better.  However, the style isn't right.  The paint, taper, the design of the tabletop, the height of the shelf - it all combines to a little more traditional than we quiz at around here.  We quiz at a minimalist, industrial, complimented by bohemian and rustic styles.  I'd throw in midcentury modern.  Clearly there isn't a working title.  

There is an argument for the lighter, visually thinner, look of the legs.  That contrast highlights the beautiful little lip of the tabletop, which I really love.  There's an argument to be made for the honey stain in here, to pick up the floor and repeat a theme.  All of that is on hold until we actually design this room - which won't be until we finish the basement.    

I'm really proud of these tables.  They sent me in a tailspin, questioning our goal as we design this house into our home, but I'm taking this as the first conscious reflection of looking critically at pieces.  It's knowing that I can love something, and that doesn't mean I need to have it in our home.     

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