Monday, 11 June 2012

Multi-functional. Table setting.

Sunday morning
Sunday evening
Working table
Tea party table

The kitchen table is probably the most used area in the house; it acts as a place to eat, work, read, drink, talk, and more. The table is relatively new due to the fact that I burnt the previous one by leaving a candle burning away.

The chairs are a mix, some inherited, some new, and as mentioned in an earlier post, non-matching. This wasn’t a deliberate decision initially – in all other houses that we have lived in, we always had a pew on one side of the table and chairs on the other, so there has never been a case for buying four matching chairs. The pew looked wrong here as the proportions of the new table meant it couldn’t be placed against the wall; more chairs were gradually added, initially four, now six.

You can see the pew in the photograph above,  taken shortly after we moved in.

As a child, whenever we sat down as a family to eat, we all had ‘a place’ where we sat and this never changed. Mum was nearest to the kitchen, whilst I sat opposite my Dad and next to my brother. D and I have more chairs and less people to accommodate so we don’t follow any ‘regime’ in terms of where we sit – however, it is more practical for whoever is cooking to sit nearest the oven or hob, and I do have a preferred place to sit when I use the table to work at.


  1. It's very heart-warming to know and see your happenings and stories around the kitchen table - that lots of different activities take place around a central piece of furniture. The changing visual surface terrain of the table from work to tea-party to evening meal. Also notable are the variety of colours of items and table accessories, all being altered by the changing of lighting in the room, and this, in turn, changing the atmosphere.
    R.e. the 'places' at the table - our family did the same - I also have one brother. We all sat in the same place, throughout the years, until I left home when I'd just turned 18. Whenever I returned for a visit and had a meal with my family, we all sat in the same places, still.

  2. I suppose that traditionally the kitchen would be ‘the heart of the home’– and due to lifestyle changes, it is now quite common to see kitchens being multi-functional, so there may be a tv and sofa or a computer where children can do their homework, whilst parents cook/sit/relax. We don’t have a separate dining room, so by default our kitchen has to serve both purposes, and it is the cliché – the room where we naturally congregate; visitors are far more likely to sit around the kitchen table than in the front room – maybe it feels less formal?

  3. It's my dream to have a kitchen large enough to accommodate a lovely big wooden table. The only house I have lived in with such a table, was when I was art student doing my BA Hons Degree in Winchester. There were 8 of us living in the house, and the kitchen was our only shared space, so it was a busy, fun (very messy) and entertaining one! I loved it (apart from all the dirty plates etc. left for washing up!).
    Conversations always seem to be better, when had sat at the table, rather than relaxing on a sofa, and with the type of seating, somehow it's much easier to engage. I think the dynamics of we relate to each other around the table adds to the ease of conversing, and if there's food and drink available, it's all the more convivial!
    I do think like you, the traditional dining room has much more of a formal atmosphere and kind of expected etiquette when engaging socially. There's some pressure on the act of 'entertaining well' which is put on both the hosts and the guests.

  4. You’re very good at this analysis lark! It seems obvious now that you have raised it, but I hadn’t really considered that the type of seating and its arrangement around the table is more sociable and conducive to conversation, it seems to enable everyone to be involved rather than satellite conversations occurring… my friend R has a round table which seems to work particularly well, especially when there are a group of five. I’ve just watched The Secret History of our Streets, where part of the discussion was about kitchens, as one resident of a Georgian property said: the kitchen is now the place where we all want to be, whereas as before it was the domain of servants, and to be avoided.

  5. The round table sounds perfect - maybe I might change that to my ideal (!). An extension of sitting around the camp fire - cooking, sharing food, talking with friends and family etc., etc.
    Yes, interesting comparison for well-to do households, not to be involved in the preparing and cooking of food. It's interesting nowadays, how we see this act as an extension of love and warm feelings (to provide for) our family and invited guests.
    My Mother-In-Law always gives us a freshly baked (home made) cake whenever we visit. I take this as the above as we always receive one of our favourite types of cake, rather than something we don't like! Plus she is an extremely good cook! Delicious!

  6. What an ideal mother-in-law you have! – I love the idea of being baked a cake every time you visit, and it’s true how we associate food with comfort and love; it reminds me of a story that T’s mum told for the Tea & Cake book – as a child she always returned from school to be greeted with the smell of baking; once she had a family of her own she tried to continue this tradition, (unfortunately though T and her sister have no recollection of this!).
    My friend D is a very good cook and always serves what she calls grazing food – (or inside picnics!) - informal food that enables people to eat at their leisure; without the formality that sometimes goes with a ‘proper’ meal, there is nothing to distract from the business of chatting! – I think this is how I would like my kitchen table to function.

  7. Yes, and she is a marvellous cake-baker, as well as a lovely Mother-In-Law.
    Loved the story from T's Mum - isn't it funny how we have a totally different recollections of our Childhood than our parents!?
    I think D has it just right, nailing the indoor picnic/grazing food and allowing conversations to flow and the evening/occasion to develop without the formal 'sit down' meal. It really makes everyone feel much more at ease.
    For seeing in 2012 I had a 70's themed New Year's party where everyone came with 70's types of food and drinks . It reminded me of my parents parties in the late 70's/early 80's where the ubiquitous cheese and pineapple hedgehog (we had at least 3 hedgehogs going on!) would make an appearance alongside new fashionable 'party food' and 'snacks.'I was allowed to join in for a while, until bed time and found it all so exciting and so very grown up. This time though we didn't even get round to eating the Black Forest Gateau -!
    It really struck me how 'brown' all the food looked though! I guess that's quite in-keeping with the 70's, anyway!

  8. Oh, the cheese and pineapple hedgehog, no party was complete without one! There was usually one for sausages on sticks too. I seem to remember Tupperware making quite an appearance at my parent’s parties – which would be early 70s. It’s hard to imagine plastic-ware being used in a similar situation today – unless ironically of course.


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