Dining Room Tulip Table

I’ve been trying to get our current dining room situation to work for our family for years and it just wasn’t. We finally decided to invest in a new table that was the right size and offered a more durable surface, this Lippa reproduction tulip table. VERDICT: A THOUSAND TIMES BETTER IN EVERY WAY! (Sources at the end)

This has been a great lesson that just buying what you love and making it work doesn’t actually always turn out. I wonder sometimes if I should be more content and less persistent when it comes to house stuff, but every time I invest the time and money to get things right, I’m always blown away at how much it elevates our day to day life. Often times “contentment” is really complacency. I think that’s why I love architecture/interior design/industrial design so much. A little effort towards good design can literally change your life for the better. Yes I just said that about a table.The things that weren’t working before: We never used this room, talk about a house red flag. It was uncomfortable and cramped. The table was too big/wrong shape for our awkwardly small square dining room. And the table, which was a vintage Heywood Wakefield dream table/find/purchase, was too precious, not to mention rickety, to let the kids go to town with art/homework/regular disgusting kid eating or even for me to spread out with a project. Add in that it took up the entire room but could only seat 6, and the color wasn’t popping with our grasscloth and wood floors, and it was time to move on. I’ve known for years, but it felt stupid to spend money on the table I wanted and knew would work when I had “a perfectly good one already,” which actually wasn’t true. I should have spent it sooner. Lesson learned.

Pedestal (for the tiny room size) and white (for the dark room color) were the parameters. Since I’m in a huge tulip phase right now, a tulip table was the only answer. I’ve been keeping an eye out for vintage ones and I even looked into the cost of a Knoll, who has been in tulip table production since the beginning of tulip tables, because vintage/real is better than fake…usually. But vintage and very expensive originals need some stewardship and responsibility that I don’t want for this season of our life. I need a table that can take a beating, that we can really use, where markers and spaghetti sauce are a go. So sellout repro it is!The cost was a little daunting. I’m a by low, sell high estate sale scavenger type and I think this might be the single most expensive piece of furniture we’ve ever bought and it’s not even real… I’m hoping to sell our old one for about the same price, so I’m justifying it as an even trade. But, so far, the cost and hassle (SO HEAVY WE CAN NEVER MOVE OUT OF THIS HOUSE) has been totally worth it because we are actually using it. I feel like we gained a room.

This room is small and acts as a passage from the family to the dining room, essentially leaving only a 9.5′ square for the dining area, making it difficult to find the right size. Rectangle didn’t work, I thought oval might, but once I got down to the actual available dimensions none were right. Circle made the most sense, 54″ or 60″ being the options. Normal recommendations are that you have at least 30″ from your table to your wall, and neither size offered that clearance. But the most important thing for me was table top square footage…for a giant workspace. Cozy was fine with us as long as I could comfortably move around the table when we weren’t sitting there. I took a chance and went big (60″) and I’m so glad I did. This may not work for the host who throws drawn out dumb dinner parties where people need to be able to come and go from the crowded table, but I am so not that person. Mostly I need this to meet the daily needs of the four of us, and it would be nice if we could occasionally squeeze a few more around our table. The 60″ fulfills all those needs. I’m SO glad I went big. The room is spacious, bright and comfortable – finally!As for the top, I went with the engineered artificial marble over plain white just for durability, but I am so happy with the texture it adds. I’m not really a marble person, there are so many other surfaces I’d choose over marble, but I UNEXPECTEDLY LOVE IT. I’m no expert, but the fake marble is pretty convincing and it won’t stain. The shine bounces light around in the room in a wonderful way.

Our chairs are from Ikea, 7 years ago. We have 6 of them and they easily tuck under the table, with room to squeeze in a few more if need be. I’ve apparently been collecting tulip stools for various parts of our house (dressing room and I recently got another for our kitchen desk area). When I brought one in out of curiosity, something magical happened! They look SO CUTE AND I WANT A TABLE FULL!!! Like 8 multicolored spinning stools around this round table. Highly impractical or the most practical solution ever??? The kids and I are all in agreement, husband thinks that is crazy talk.The most glowing endorsement for the new table has been from my son, who often cannot tolerate change or new things, especially when they involve getting rid of familiar pieces of furniture. When he saw this table he proclaimed, “I usually hate new things but this new Palm Springs table is great!” Hmm? While tulip tables star in many a Palm Springs homes, he has never ever seen one there himself. His explanation: “Things in Palm Spring are bright and clean and this table is so bright and clean that it reminds me of Palm Springs! I love it…even though it’s new!” GREAT SUCCESS.

Mostly for my benefit, here’s our updated dining to-do. Notice that baseboards are crossed off. I AM LIVING. Next up in here is a mind blowing wood room divider. I can’t wait to get to that project. Pure fluff fun! 2018?

Dining Room To do:

  • Remove carpet
  • Swap out old light for Nelson saucer
  • Paint trim
  • Remove wallpaper
  • Paint ceilings and walls
  • Hang grasscloth wallpaper
  • Frame out pass through
  • Put some weird woodwork in the pass-through
  • Build room divider
  • Walnut curtain cornice boxes?
  • Finish wood floors
  • Baseboards
  • Paint the pocket doors

Now I need to figure out if things are getting too themey in our house. Tulip table in the dining room, tulip coffee table in the family room, tulip stools in the dressing room and kitchen. Plus round white table just outside on the patio. Too much??? It feels right to me, but some non-tulip-obsessed eyes would be appreciated.


table – Lexmod | chairs – old Ikea | tulip stools – Amazon (I recovered)

painting – DIY ripoff of this one | bookshelf – DIY

light – Modernica, now at Herman Miller | grasscloth wallpaper – Brewster, similar


Bertoia Diamond Chair Cover

This is an entire post about a chair! But first, let’s catch up:

I’m sure every person you know in California is all like ‘hooray fall weather has arrived’ and you are like ‘shut up Californians.’ But seriously, it finally cooled down and got all gloomy and wonderful just in time for Halloween. My husband and I spontaneously took a no-kid trip to Disneyland, and had the best time reliving our high school/college days. The haunted mansion always inspires, but there is nothing like it during the holidays. I will gladly stand in that line for 2 hours just to stare at the exterior decorations. My take away was that I need a million jack-o-lanterns for next year and that maybe I’m way more goth that I think because that place moves me. Trick or treating, as always, was a house creepers delight. We have some pretty sweet houses in our neighborhood and I’m thankful for the one day of year where I can non-criminally glimpse inside. I’m a little sad Halloween is over and the cheesy spider decorations need to be put away, but November is so packed in a really good way. I head to science camp with my daughter next week, then we have a big birthday to celebrate, then we are taking a highly anticipated trip to our family favorite PALM SPRINGS, and then it’s basically Christmas time! Pumped for it all.With all the festivities, plus an extra busy season for work/school for our family, house progress is almost non-existent right now. Minus two very exciting developments….

The first being a new to us original Bertoia diamond chair! I’ve wanted a vintage one in black and orange forever and it finally came to me. (If you can’t land a vintage one but want one of your own, they are still in production for so much money at Knoll, or several of companies sell reproductions.) The chairs are insanely elegant as is…my future architect is super interested in the bent square construction, melt my heart. But the covers, in orange specifically, push them over the edge.I think it will live right here by the fireplace in our family room (and maybe I will even track down a matching ottoman one of these days!?), but I need to address the cover first. The fabric is in stellar vintage condition. No rips or worn spots and only slight fading along the edges. The orange is vibrant and the texture is nubby. But there are some “vintage” cigarette smells and the interior foam is deteriorating, leaving lumps and dust. :(

I’ve never really had the opportunity to get up close and personal with a vintage cushion before and I naively hoped I could remove and replace the foam myself, clean the vintage cover, and be good as new. But upon closer inspection, that idea is wacko. It’s not like a giant pillow. The cover construction is much more advanced than I could ever replicate. The foam is cut and sewn in a 3D shape, and I believe spray adhesive was also employed so I don’t see how I could successfully remove the old foam, which throws quite the wrench in my uninformed plan.

I had a hard time finding detailed pictures of original covers, so in case any of you need some up close visuals of cushion construction, here you go. The front and back panels are sewn together and a channel runs the perimeter so that a piece of twine with hooks on the ends can hold the entire piece in place on the frame. string twine hooksI’m not sure where to head at this point. At minimum, I could use the chair without a full cover. Umm, see below (from Knoll)! Like I said, gorgeous as is. But the chairs are over the top striking and more comfy with upholstery. I had a few Instagram friends (thanks everybody!) suggest an eBay seller that makes decent reproduction covers. Sounds like my best option, though I need a little time to stomach the unanticipated, though reasonable, costs. Now for the other very exciting house development. YOU GUYS AND GALS I just ordered this table for our dining room!!!! My beloved Heywood Wakefield table is moving out and a crazy huge round tulip reproduction is moving in. I’m so excited, but nervous too. Thanks to all of you that weighed in on table size in Instagram stories. After much debate, I went with the biggie, against all traditional decorating advice. I can’t wait to see if it is gonna play out like it does in my head. Usually I’m very ok with design experiments bombing, but this isn’t an easy or cheap decision to reverse. Fingers crossed it works in our space. I’m sure I’ll share a big old post about it when it arrives in a few weeks.

Good talk! xoxo Jenny

That Time I Bought a Couch at JCPenney (Buying Vintage vs Reproduction Furniture)

mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredSo, this is probably a bit overdue since I wrote this almost a year ago and never got around to posting (oops)…And now it looks like the couch is permanently on clearance (along with the leather version here)….And the chair is gone….However, it’s possible this may be useful to someone and I’ve been mentioning it lately without giving the info, so here it goes.

Barring personal type items and things that are toxic (radioactive red Fiesta), I will almost always choose the vintage version of something over a new one. When it comes to furniture, I’m a design fan and collecting vintage makes my heart soar, though I think many modern companies are coming out with beautiful work too and I’m not above buying their stuff. CB2, I love you! But I not talking new here, just new copies of old designs. Actual real pieces are always better than their copy so in the reproduction “vintage” vs true vintage contest, original wins.

But sometimes, for whatever reason, original is not possible or ideal. In this house, we’ve purchased a few reproduction items: our Modernica Nelson Bubble lamp, our kitchen faux Eames shell chairs, and one of our couches. The lamp was out of sheer cost: I couldn’t find or afford the real thing and it was the one piece that I had wanted bad enough for years that I finally felt ready to unabashedly sell-out for (vintage ones in decent condition are so hard to find…they are made of paper, after all). The kitchen chairs were out of principle: I knew the chairs would be trashed and covered in food by my sweet children. I wouldn’t dare put vintage in there, at this season of our family’s life. (What is more insulting to a furniture designer: to buy a knock-off of their design or let your kids trash an original?) So, although I think the repro is tacky and borderline intellectual and creative thievery, I bought them because they were the cutest new/used option in my price range. (How are they so cheap on amazon??? It’s iffy, and I participated and don’t feel great about it.) And then there was that time I bought a mid century style couch at JC Penney…mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredThis saga started a long time ago with this adorable vintage couch and chair set, below. The fabric was a super cool vintage metallic frieze that needed replacing. The cushions were springy and saggy. I’m embarrassed to say that I moved TWICE (huge moves too: NC>OH and OH>CA) with them with the intention of reupholstering when we settled into a long term housing situation.
mid century sofa chair couch vintage frieze fabric metallic brown upholstery mid century chair sofa couch vintage frieze fabric metallic brown upholstery First off, let me tell you how overwhelming it is to choose fabric (let alone even a color) when your options are literally every fabric in existence. I was adrift. I finally sort of settled on some cute nubby stuff, still lost on the color, that was a decent value but not cheap. The fabric alone was going to be in the $500-700 range, and then the actual labor for reupholstering another $2000 minimum. All this, not including new foam, which it desperately needed.This couch is clearly awesome and much cooler than most new couches. But the price and work involved didn’t make sense for a piece in our family room that would see heavy use by youngins’. It didn’t seem like the right move. Especially when I compared it with “good enough” new repro style couches. So I sadly sold it. (Weirdest story: This was purchased very late at night by a Japanese furniture dealer who drove up on a whim from LA with the intention of shipping it in a container back to Japan because mid century pieces, especially the American vernacular, are in high demand there. $$$ What’s it doing now?)mid century chair sofa couch vintage frieze fabric metallic brown upholstery I know it’s pretty random to buy a couch online from JC Penney, but that is where I ended up. I was online checking out Jonathan Adler’s JCP stuff and Darrin links kept popping up. I was totally surprised, impressed and quickly SOLD. The color was very close to what I already had in mind. The price was unbeatable. I bought during a sale and got both for $1200…I know!!!

I loved that there was a matching chair. That made choosing this over the vintage matched set a little easier. I know matching furniture isn’t very popular these days, but I love a matching chair and couch! It’s such a classic mid century design element. Mismatched things for the sake of mismatching is not my thing. And also, modern day sectionals don’t move me. So the couch + chairs was a dream come true.mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholstered


Here’s the lowdown on Darrin…

Color: I wouldn’t say it’s graphite as there is a definite blue tint to it in person. It is very dark and hard to photograph, but this is pretty close, as is the above.mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredFabric: Pretty cute. Not nubby = sad. But has some texture with variation in the weaving = good. Here’s a hugely blown out example so you can see the detail.mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredSize: Measure! This is so huge. Borderline gigantic. Especially the chair, which is nearly a two seater. My 6 footer husband can easily stretch out on the couch and there is plenty of spooning room. Great in my large room, but wouldn’t be good for every space. mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredLegs: They’re OK. Color is good, standard walnut. But their bulkiness reads contemporary repro, not true vintage. I’m planning on replacing them with vintage trim tapers.mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredComfort: Probably not the most comfortable couch in the world, but far better than any vintage couch I’ve ever owned! The back cushions are down, which is a bit squishy/floppy for my tastes. mid century style couch sofa chair charcoal JC Penney Darrin gray tufted bolster pillow upholsteredDoes it off-gas? YES. I always wonder about this, does anyone else? We had to air it out for a few days in our den with the door open and then it was fine. Definitely made in China, definitely not organic cotton, definitely treated with fire-retardant and probably some stain guard. I hate all that stuff but struggled to find new upholstery fabric free of it. Also, the vintage set needed new foam anyways and would have been an off-gaser itself.

Would I recommend it? For the sale price, enthusiastically YES! For retail, no because there are better options out there. If you are in the market for a new repro style couch, A Beautiful Mess just did a thorough roundup of mid century looking couches that is really good. Definitely check it out before you buy! And, I’ll mention that I would have purchased a couch from Thrive if I hadn’t stumbled upon the JCP. I’ve seen Thrive’s furniture in person and it is all gorgeous and extremely comfortable, and there is often deeply discounted furniture if you are able to visit their actual store! Thanks for reading everybody!