Pull up a Chair!

One of my brothers recently texted me out of the blue to ask if I still had “the table” from our youth. Um, yep! There’s no way I’d ever sell it or give it away.

One of my brothers recently texted me out of the blue to ask if I still had “the table” from our youth. Um, yep! There’s no way I’d ever sell it or give it away. That round pine beauty, with its accompanying chairs for eight siblings, was the center of my childhood. It was custom-made on the East Coast for my parents and was around before I was born, and it’s where everything happened.

So much life occurred around that table: playing cards, doing homework, planning trips, reading the paper, filling in crossword puzzles, perusing catalogs, drinking coffee, cleaning silver and brass, putting together photo albums. It’s where we gathered for everyday meals, and on special occasions it became an overflow table when the dining room couldn’t accommodate everyone.

Tables exude personality and can instantly transport us to days gone by. We feature a lot of them in this issue, including the one on the cover, located in a historic Mackinac Island cottage. Kevin Serba, of Serba Interiors, tells me the cottage’s English pine table (circa 1890) is a centerpiece in the light-filled dining space and maximizes seating for family gatherings. “The warm rustic pine is a great contrast to the soft white beadboard walls,” he says.

Theresa Angelini, of Angelini & Associates Architects, says the dining room table in the home she helped design in this issue (see page 90) is a generously sized wood-topped table. “It seems ironic that as people downsize, their needs grow for a larger dining table,” she says.

She adores the table she and her architect husband, Brad, have in their own home. She found it at Ann Arbor’s Treasure Mart, and it can expand to accommodate 12 — tightly — at Christmas. “It’s the perfect size and shape, even if it’s a little damaged,” she says.

Speaking of Christmas, Brad says dining with family reminds him of his father’s antique glassware and China collection. “Our usual everyday Melmac dishware, nondescript flatware, and heavy-duty glassware were replaced at Christmas with antique pink and green Depression Era glass plates, Cambridge Rose Point goblets, and other fancy elements.”  How elegant!

Lou DesRosiers of DesRosiers Architects, whose work is featured in the story titled “New Beginning,” notes that a home’s dining table is a focal point where everyone can “gather in their daily living.” He recalls having meals as a child at a burnt, wire-brushed hexagonal pine table made from the same wood the pews at St. Hugo of the Hills Parish in Bloomfield Hills were built from (his father, Arthur, designed the church in 1930). Talk about soul food!

More heartfelt memories come from designer Barbi Stalburg Kasoff, of Stalburg Design, whose featured project, showcased beginning on page 56, has plenty of dining spots. As for her own home, she says her dining room table is a 1920s beauty her grandfather purchased in Detroit. Eventually, it ended up with Kasoff. “Being a designer, I couldn’t leave the table alone,” she says. She took it to Guaranteed Furniture Services and they “lovingly stripped that table down and stained it a custom high-gloss. I loved seeing my dad and my 96-year-old aunt sitting at the table they grew up with. I’m glad I have a piece of the family with me.”

I’m with you on that, Barbi, and the others whose table stories evoke a sense of family togetherness.

My message back to my brother was this: I’m keeping the old pine table, but I look forward to having dinner with you around it soon!