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The centerpiece topic


Fat Guy
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I have a new (to me) dining-room table, handed down to us by a friend. It's a great table, but it has a serious abrasion right in the center. So I'm thinking the best move is to keep that area covered up with a centerpiece of some sort.

This got me thinking about centerpieces in general and therefore about all of you.

My major requirements are that I don't want anything alive that requires maintenance, and that I don't want anything tall that makes it hard for a person to see across the table. I'm looking for thoughts and suggestions, and discussion of centerpieces in general.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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I'm not big on centerpieces that aren't functional, mostly because they take up valuable surface space. Unless a table is really wide, centerpieces always seem to be in the way and end up getting removed to make room for food, water, wine, etc. If you're trying to cover up a center spot, a table runner or table cloth is a good solution.

If you opt for a centerpiece and also use candles, make sure your centerpiece isn't flameable. On a couple of occasions I've seen them catch fire. Once was at my house. We were really lucky it didn't get out of hand.


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If you're trying to cover up a center spot, a table runner or table cloth is a good solution.

Tablecloth if you want the wood to show. Special runner if you are not fussy about how much table shows.

In our house, I would use something with a "southwest" theme. Then change the runner depending upon the season, celebration, etc.

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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Are the nuts ready to eat, or are you talking about nuts in the shell?

In the shell; the things keep forever. The bowl is not that tall, by the way, maybe 7 or 8 inches.

We also sometimes use a large dish with a bunch of votive candles in small glass holders (they're easy to dust, and you can fire them up for a dinner party). Again, nice low profile, pleasant to look at, not too intrusive.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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I like to use a full tablecloth to protect my table when having a dinner party. I find I worry less. I don't use expensive linen and I don't use white; something with a busyish pattern hides most minor mishaps that don't wash out. A couple of hems in a cotton tablecloth is about all the sewing I'm up to, anyway. Much cheaper than buying a ready-made one.

For special occasions I like to use a centerpiece, but fun ones that kids can enjoy are the best. I have a large low glass bowl, and I would give my daughter the job of decorator. She would put colored glass stones in the bottom, fill with water, plastic fish, floating glass donuts to hold flowers and floating candles--whatever was available. In the low light of a dinner party it always looks better than you imagine. Duck candles always seem to be a hit as they melt in bizarre ways.

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I just don't use to many center pc's unless its fresh for dinners or special occasions.. Otherwise its a pain for me!!

Easter Centerpc:

5647352336_13eaf4c558.jpg

Course you could always use this and it would never be in the way!!

5647354788_a09e03d5ac.jpg

Other wise we use little glass colored flat pcs or stones.. in smaller containers

Edited by Paul Bacino (log)

Its good to have Morels

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I keep an attractive teak lazy susan in in the center of the table. I can use it as a platform for flowers, candlesticks, a fruit bowl, condiments, or serving dishes, as appropriate for the meal. If I had a "serious abrasion" in the center, it would certainly hide it, without appearing to be planted there for that purpose.

The nice thing is....it's functional.

(What a weird first post after a year and a half!)

Edited by SilverSage (log)
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I'm no DIY guy or anything, but depending on the nature of the 'serious abrasion' I'd be asking someone in the know if they could help me restain the table or clean it up some other way. If there are just a few scratches you should be able to do a reasonable job of making the table presentable again.

Chris Taylor

Host, eG Forums - ctaylor@egstaff.org

 

I've never met an animal I didn't enjoy with salt and pepper.

Melbourne
Harare, Victoria Falls and some places in between

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A melon was left on the table and its underside rotted, unbeknownst to the previous owner. A few days later when she lifted the fruit it had eaten away at the table. I don't have a complete understanding of the depth of the damage. I'll have to see if refinishing is an option. I'm not sure if it is.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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A melon was left on the table and its underside rotted, unbeknownst to the previous owner. A few days later when she lifted the fruit it had eaten away at the table. I don't have a complete understanding of the depth of the damage. I'll have to see if refinishing is an option. I'm not sure if it is.

If there's been a change to the actual texture of the wood itself, that's tricky to fix, unless the top is made of smallish pieces, which can be taken out and replaced entirely; getting this done properly would probably cost a bundle, unless you have a friend or family member who does this sort of thing.

You might want to consider eventually inlaying some tiles in the scarred area, which would also have the advantage of being usable for setting pots and pans on the table, on occasions when you don't plate.

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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When I get home at the end of the week I'll try to post a photo of the affected area for all of your consideration.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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You might want to consider eventually inlaying some tiles in the scarred area, which would also have the advantage of being usable for setting pots and pans on the table, on occasions when you don't plate.

This is a great idea!

Darienne

 

learn, learn, learn...

 

Life in the Meadows and Rivers

Cheers & Chocolates

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I think the tile inlay trick is mostly effective with farmhouse-style tables. This is more of a dark, shiny finish on a more formal table. I think tile would just look weird. I may have a photo of the table I can post from the road, but I'm sure I don't have a closeup of the damage. I'll look at my cell-phone photo inventory now.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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Unfortunately, all I have access to at the moment is this out-of-focus cell-phone photo of the table. The area of damage/rot is at the absolute dead center of the table. I'll follow up with a closeup and a better photo in about a week.

IMG_20110412_113719.jpg

Speaking of lazy Susans, I was just at a crafts fair and there was a couple there selling handmade lazy Susans that were very nice. I just couldn't see one going well with this table, though. I think so far the bowl of nuts idea is best. I have a beautiful handmade wooden bowl that doesn't get displayed enough, and filled with walnuts in the shell it would probably look really nice.

I'm not a big fan of tablecloths and runners. Maybe for special occasions but not as permanent fixtures. For everyday dining we're a placemat family.

Steven A. Shaw aka "Fat Guy"
Co-founder, Society for Culinary Arts & Letters, sshaw@egstaff.org
Proud signatory to the eG Ethics code
Director, New Media Studies, International Culinary Center (take my food-blogging course)

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If it is only the finish that has been destroyed, try Howard's Restor-a-Finish. I have not used it before but alot of vintage furniture lovers swear by the stuff.

http://howardproducts.com/restora.htm

"The main thing to remember about Italian food is that when you put your groceries in the car, the quality of your dinner has already been decided." – Mario Batali
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I think the tile inlay trick is mostly effective with farmhouse-style tables. This is more of a dark, shiny finish on a more formal table. I think tile would just look weird. . . .

Going by the image you you posted, I have to agree with you, and the rounded corners also work against tile inlay being a good solution (unless you really enjoy solving this sort of challenge).

Michaela, aka "Mjx"
Manager, eG Forums
mscioscia@egstaff.org

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Speaking of lazy Susans, I was just at a crafts fair and there was a couple there selling handmade lazy Susans that were very nice. I just couldn't see one going well with this table, though. I think so far the bowl of nuts idea is best. I have a beautiful handmade wooden bowl that doesn't get displayed enough, and filled with walnuts in the shell it would probably look really nice.

I'm not a big fan of tablecloths and runners. Maybe for special occasions but not as permanent fixtures. For everyday dining we're a placemat family.

I use a large, shallow bowl or platter of fruit that needs ripening (pears, for example), or items that are best stored at room temperature (tomatoes) or can tolerate it (lemons).

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FG,

I had a nice piece of mirror (thick for strength) custom cut to sit in the middle of my table. You could have it made any size/shape that you wish. Put little silicone feet on the bottom so it won't move and won't further mar the table top. Then if you use candlesticks or flowers or other centrepiece, the can sit on the mirror (nice reflections and even a slight increase in illumination.

You can get fancy and have (or maybe find already made) a beveled mirror that is more attractive on the table.

Or you might be able to find a nice antique plateau - silver/silver plate galleried mirrored tray with feet that looks nice on the table. You can use it same way, put decorative things (seasonal deco?) when you want to. A bunch of tea lights look nice on the mirror.

Llyn Strelau

Calgary, Alberta

Canada

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I like the idea of two runners, one lengthwise and one widthwise. They would hide the flaw and provide personal "place mats" for four people. (If interested, PM me -- I'll make 'em fer free. For you, Great Leader.

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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Depending on how "nice looking" you want it to be, you might consider having the table re-veneered. One great advantage is that, when you have the table re-veneered you can have the refinishers layer on a strong modern polyurethane-based varnish that will be waterproof, and resist scratching/chemical degradation, etc.

--

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I agree with Sam, your best option is to have the top veneered: it shouldn't be that expensive, and the result will be a basically brand-new-looking table top. If you are dead-set on having a centerpiece, though, modern high-end silk flowers are damned near dead ringers for the real thing. They are a bit on the pricey side, however.

Chris Hennes
Director of Operations
chennes@egullet.org

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