Our new custom made oak dining table is complete! Today we’re talking through why we went custom (and round!), the process and the beautiful end result.
Our various dining tables have always acted as the de facto command center of our Chicago home. The dining space is in the physical center of the house and acts as a place to gather for meals and also as our home office throughout the day. That said, it gets near-constant use between 9am – 7pm most days, so it needs to be able to stand up to wear and tear and look great doing it.
Our former dining table served us well for many years. It was durable, comfortable and fit our space well. But times have changed and Lucy has grown into an active preschooler that doesn’t require a high chair or booster seat anymore, so we were ready for an upgrade.
Prior to making the decision to move forward with a custom table, we scoured the web for months in search of the perfect off-the-shelf piece to meet our needs and compliment our style. This CB2 table was the closest we came to finding the one, but the 45″ diameter would have looked diminutive in our space and wouldn’t be large enough to accommodate even a few additional friends.
Since our perfect table didn’t seem to exist, we reached out to our friends at Norman Leigh to discuss (yet another!) custom table. You may remember them as the husband and wife duo behind the custom table in our Michigan Tree House, so we were familiar with their skillset! After discussing plans, options and materials with George and Leigh-Anne, we knew we were in great hands and sent over the deposit for them to get started right away.
The custom process obviously required more decision-making than buying from a standard retailer, but it also allowed for an incredible amount of flexibility in size, material and finish. The overall cost was surprisingly not far out of line with buying high-quality standard retail!
We knew we were after a round oak table with a drum base, but we still had lots of decisions to make. We were even able to meet George and Leigh-Anne at the lumber yard to select the exact boards we’d use for the tabletop! Turnaround time on a custom table is also longer that what might be expected from a traditional retailer, but with the production and shipping delays that the world is facing currently, lead time was similar to that of a lot of retailers!
As we mentioned earlier, the dining table serves as the ‘desk’ for our home office setup, but also does traditional duty as a gathering space for meals. We’ve always loved round tables for the way they seem to encourage conversation and collaboration, and we’re always shocked by how many people can fit comfortably around them!
After utilizing the table every day for a few weeks, we’re thrilled with all of our decisions. The size and shape promote collaboration and screen-sharing throughout our workday and the few times we’ve hosted friends around this beautiful table have resulted in lively, interactive conversations. The round shape really does change how we work and converse around it!
Designing this table was a truly collaborateive effort. Since we’ve worked with George and Leigh-Anne in the past, we’ve developed a great team attitude when we work together. As we mentioned earlier, every step of the process, including material selection, board layout, final dimensions and even the bevel on the edge of the table (below right) was a thoughtful group decision.
Larger decisions happened in person or on the phone. Quick decisions happened via a group text thread. Leigh-Anne dropped off finish samples when she was in the neighborhood and we observed them in the exact light of our dining room.
Leigh-Anne periodically sent along process and teaser photos so we got to track the table’s progress in real time from home. The whole process was incredibly fun and the end result is exactly what we had in mind!
When it came time to select a finish, we knew we needed a finish that would offer protection from spills and rings, while enhancing the natural color of the oak as opposed to masking it. George and Leigh-Anne immediately recommended Oil Plus from Rubio Monocoat as the best of the best and we trusted their judgement 100%
After sampling a few shades, we determined that Mist was the best fit for our space. The final product turned out better than we imagined and compliments our space beautifully. After a week or so using coasters and extra care, the finish is completely cured and water and spills simply bead up and wipe away! This finish is truly amazing.
Our table is a substantial 62″ across, which could fit 8-10 people comfortably if wedding seating charts on the internet are to be trusted. That said, it’s rare for us to host that many people formally at any given time, so we determined that a total of 6 chairs (with one living in the adjacent guest room, ready to be pulled out as needed) was our best bet.
We were on the hunt for comfortable, supportive chairs that wouldn’t have our backs aching halfway through our daily work and wouldn’t break the bank. Chairs with arms were topped of our search criteria as well. Kim mentioned this in our IG stories and a thoughtful follower sent over a link to the Mazie chairs from Room & Board.
We suspected that they were the ones and took a field trip out to our local Room & Board outlet to see them in person. We were immediately convinced! Mazie chairs are constructed of powder coated steel wrapped in wipeable synthetic leather and they couldn’t be more comfortable. The 5 chair configuration is working out well so far and we’ll pull the 6th out from its hiding spot as necessary.
Work + Play
So far, this table has worked out fantastically for our day-to-day workflow. If Kim needs to show me something on her computer screen, She simply tilts it toward me as opposed to one of us having to get up and walk around to the other side of the table. It makes collaborating easier than ever and we’re both happier when we can make efficient decisions without having to get up out of these comfy chairs!
We’ve yet to host a large gathering around this beauty, but the few times that we’ve had another small family over, the table has worked out beautifully. The round shape makes passing dishes easy and chatting across the 62″ span is easy and natural!
If it hasn’t been abundantly transparent so far, we’re incredibly impressed with the way that Norman Leigh carried out our vision. The table is insanely well built and fits our space perfectly. The color, size and scale are all perfect. Now all we need to do is decide if we’ll have our next holiday meal around this table or the other custom table George and Leigh-Anne built for us!