Farm to table

When we moved this summer, we didn’t invite any of the furniture from the old house to come with us to the new house. At the old house, where we had roommates, the couches and tables hadn’t come from stores—they’d come from people. (Example: Oh, this couch was Julie’s when she lived here senior year. Well, actually, it was Julie’s roommate’s from junior year. Remember, when they lived in that apartment on the fourth floor? I think she found it on Craigslist.)

Our new house is a blank slate. I say is, instead of was, because we’ve been very slow to furnish it in the three months that we’ve lived here. In our kitchen, we’ve been using a long folding table and folding chairs.

Then, Sunday night—a breakthrough, a special delivery, a piece of furniture that does not fold and is too heavy transport:

This summer, we met a guy named Tyson who is like a wood forager. He dismantles old barns and cleans up the wood so that it can be used to make furniture, frames and more.

The oak for this table came from a barn near the southern Indiana town of Paoli. The wood is likely 300 years old. Tyson chose the wood for us after we told him what we were looking for: a big, farmhouse-style table that showed some natural imperfections. Cracks and knots and nail holes.

The farmhouse table made with reclaimed wood is pretty popular right now. Crate and Barrel, Restoration Hardware, Pottery Barn—they’re all selling it. But, if you buy it from a mass retailer, the wood isn’t actually reclaimed, it’s just distressed to look that way.

Authenticity was important to us, but also, we wanted our table to have a certain amount of polish and timelessness. After all, we live in a 1960 ranch, not a farmhouse. Many of the options at chain stores felt so forced and costume-y.

Enter Tyson. From dimensions to stain, we were able to customize all details with him. We ended up with a table that is a very roomy 42 inches wide and 76 inches long. It seats eight to ten people and it’s going to kill at our dinner parties.

Because we started from scratch, there were a lot of decisions to make, and it was a bit of a process. The table has taken on a life of its own. Friends asked after it regularly. This weekend, we received a party invitation addressed to Jeff, Erica and Table.

No, we did not get coordinating chairs made, preferring to draw out the home furnishing process as long as possible.

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