I’m about to out myself as an old-timer. When I was in Junior High most girls took a class called Home Economics. We learned cooking and sewing skills and actually got tested on the proper way to set a table. I have never forgotten the basics of casual dining place setting: Fork on the napkin to the left of the plate, knife and spoon to the right of the plate, with the knife closest and its blade facing the plate. A drinking glass would be above and to the right of the dinner plate. I admit I don’t often practice these skills. In our house we pretty much grab a handful of knives and forks and divvy them up at the table. I picture the Vermont Tavern Table as the perfect place for the family to gather and talk about their day.
If you want to invite a couple of friends to join you for dinner, you may want to kick it up a notch. That brings us to the informal place setting. In addition to the items found in casual dining place setting you may find a bread plate, an additional glass, a salad fork, and possibly a soup spoon. I think the Cherry Moon dining table would be the just the thing for a gathering of close friends.
For a more formal gathering, place setting can be much more involved. There are water and wine glasses and, for truly elegant dinner parties, enough silverware to ready a small army. These can include fish, dinner, salad, cake and cocktail forks, dinner and butter knives, teaspoon, soup and dessert spoons. Add to all of that a charger (a decorative plate slightly larger than a dinner plate), dinner, salad and bread plates and you’re going to need a lot of real estate to hold it all. My choice would be the Vermont-Made Shaker with a boat top. It just gives a vibe of elegance to me.
Place setting has become a bit of an art form. While there are “standard” placements for items, these days you can be much more creative. Add a favor for each guest, create your own napkin rings and place cards or learn napkin folding techniques. Add different levels of candles and some flowers, gourds, or other seasonal items to make an aesthetically pleasing centerpiece. Your table should be a reflection of your own style.
Have you noticed that real, solid black walnut dining furniture is becoming rare? If you’ve been shopping and find yourself unimpressed with what you see, there’s a reason for that. Disease and global warming are taking their toll on American black walnut trees, as we’ve described in previous walnut blog posts. Much of the walnut you’ll see in mainstream furniture stores is either imported wood that’s stained dark or walnut sapwood that’s steamed to look like heartwood. Our craftsman, Robin captured my feelings exactly: “natural dark heartwood walnut is so beautiful, nothing compares”.
Fortunately for those searching for real walnut furniture, our craftspeople at Vermont Woods Studios specialize in finding high quality, natural wood that’s been sustainably harvested. The flip side of course is that, because of the relative rarity of walnut, there is a price premium which can be anywhere from 15%-30% per piece.
Vermont is known for the quality, variety and style of it’s handmade solid wood dining chairs. As we fill our new Stonehurst showroom up with furniture, Douglas is trying to provide lots of different examples of chair styles and woods. We have 37 different dining chairs on our website and most of them are available in a couple different types of hardwood. The best sellers are available for you to sit in and check for comfort and style.
I snapped this photo because it shows the 4 most popular hardwoods for dining chairs and customers often ask for advice on how to choose the best one. From left, the chairs are the:
You can see that the cherry wood chair (far left) has a deep, rich reddish tone whereas the darker walnut chair (3rd from left) is chocolate brown in color. The oak chair (2nd from left) is a lighter wood but it still has lots of grain pattern in it. The maple chair (far right) is the lightest wood, with minimal grain variation.
So how to choose the right wood color for your kitchen or dining room? Well, of course you’re going to want to consider what your dining table is made of. And how the chairs will fit into the rest of your dining area. But don’t feel you have to match the chairs to the type of wood in your dining table or on your floor. Here’s an example of mixing woods that interior designer, Susan Jay put together with our Modern High Back Dining Chairs. Susan used 2 different woods (cherry and walnut) for her chairs and she customized them by sending us a bold, vibrant fabric to upholster them with.
Check out Houzz and Pinterest for more ideas on how to choose the hardwood that best suits your style for dining chairs.
Are you looking for a special color or stain for your wooden dining chairs? Well as a general rule, Vermont craftsman are going to try and persuade you to love and accept the unique beauty that Mother Nature has bestowed upon her different wood species. They (and we) will tend to recommend natural, clear wood finishes that allow the beauty of the wood to express itself. We do however, understand the need for custom stains and finishes and can often accommodate special requests. Try browsing through our dining chairs — many have a pull down menu of stain options. If you don’t find what you want, give Liz or Sean for help. They’re experts at helping customers get exactly what they’re looking for.
Every day, multiple times a day, we sit down to eat a meal. Most people do not eat lunch at home, but lunch aside, you probably eat breakfast and dinner at home. Where in your house do you eat these meals? Do you sit at the table? Eat over the counter? Sit in front of a TV? An increasing amount of articles, which you can read here, here and here, state that those who eat in front of the TV are more likely to be obese.
You may be wondering, “why is a furniture retailer writing about the correlation between TV watching and obesity?” Let me make the connection for you: we sell dining furniture. It’s time to break that habit of sitting on the couch to eat dinner. Perhaps a new solid wood table and hardwood dining chairs would be an incentive to start having meals in your kitchen or dining room again.
Our dining room furniture is available in a variety of designs, shapes, and wood types, so there is something in our online gallery to fit any home’s style. All of our pieces of dining furniture are crafted in Vermont using sustainably harvested hardwoods. Each piece is built to order, so you can customize the piece to fit your needs. Whether you’re just looking for a small table to fit in the corner of your kitchen, or you’re looking for an extension table so you can host the next family holiday, our craftsmen can craft what you need.
Browse our online gallery (not while you’re eating, we hear that’s linked to obesity too) for your new hardwood dining furniture. If you have any questions for our fine furniture specialists, feel free to contact them.
We work with fine furniture makers from all across the state of Vermont, representing their work for sale in our online furniture store as well as in our small Vernon, Vermont showroom. In getting to know these craftspeople and their work we’ve seen a unique “Vermont Style Furniture” emerge which is quite different from furniture made in North Carolina, Pennsylvania or any other furniture region of America.
First and foremost is the natural, wood character of the furniture. Vermont craftspeople tend to eschew the dark stains often seen on trendy furniture, preferring instead to focus on the natural beauty of the wood. Second is the embracement of simple, elegant styles such as the Shaker, craftsman and mission styles.
Whereas once fine Vermont made furniture was embellished with intricate hand-carvings, now the trend has been reversed. I think the advent of CNC routers was the main driver of this reversal. It became so inexpensive to produce carved detail with CNC machines in China that– in many customers’ minds– those details became less representative of fine craftsmanship and more indicative of mass production.
Vermont has always been about authentic craftsmanship and what we see here in the Green Mountain State is a consistent focus on quality, integrity and natural beauty. That’s what continues to set Vermont style furniture apart from products coming from other states and countries. What do you think of Vermont style furniture? We’d love to know. Tell us in the comments below or on our Facebook.