The Country Farm Table has come a long way from its humble origins. Earliest mentions date back to the ancient Greeks. They were used in medieval castles where meals were taken in the Great Hall. All the inhabitants of the castle crowded around a long narrow table, seated on rough wooden benches. Its close cousin, the refectory table, was used in monasteries and seminaries. Designed to be portable, the table consisted of large planks of wood laid across a trestle so that it could be picked up and moved away when the meal was finished.
The American Farmhouse table evolved to meet the basic needs of the early settlers. They were usually made from slabs of Eastern White Pine, the most plentiful lumber available in Colonial times. Structural timbers were converted to table legs or trestles. Families and farm workers were usually seated around a basic bench or two. The lumber they used was not cured or kiln dried, forming cracks and twists as it air dried. The soft pine quickly showed the wear and tear of daily use. The table served many purposes – a place to eat, a handy workbench, a baking board, a countertop for canning and preserves. But most importantly, the rough-hewn table was a place to gather at the end of a hard day’s work on the farm. These antique Colonial Farm tables are hard to find today, and can cost thousands of dollars.
As towns and cities developed — and the population became more affluent and sophisticated – the humble farmhouse table was soon replaced by the formal, polished dining room table that was often reserved for special occasions and company. Nevertheless, many families continued to gather around the farmhouse table in the kitchen, where meals were a family affair.
A Nostalgic Return to a Simpler Time
Once again, the country farm table has come into its own. Particularly suited to today’s informal lifestyle, the farmhouse table evokes memories of a simpler time – the comforts of home, the aroma of a meal cooking on the hearth, the family sharing stories at the end of a long day. Valued for its clean, classic lines, these simple wooden tables fit almost any environment from urban sophisticated to country rustic.
Catering to every taste and income level, farm tables can be divided into three tiers. Tier One is the most basic – the mass market table that is generally manufactured off-shore. Not always made from full planks or even from real wood, some Tier One tables have plastic finishes. They are mass produced and are available in a limited number of sizes, styles, and finishes. Considered a good ‘starter’ table, it is priced to be affordable.
On the opposite end of the spectrum is Tier Three – the authentic antique farmhouse table. They are difficult to find and often considered collector’s pieces or museum quality artifacts. Though highly prized, they are often not available to fit today’s size requirements. Built to fit old, small rooms, many antique tables are too narrow or too small for today’s larger-sized dining rooms.
Sitting right in the middle is the growing Tier Two – made-to-order farmhouse tables – balancing all the best of old and new. Hand-crafted and custom made, contemporary country farm tables offer options of complete customization not widely available in the past. Bench-built by specialized furniture craftsmen and artisans, these tables can be produced to your specifications at an affordable price.
Select Your Size
The first – and some say the most important choice is size. Tier Two made-to-order tables can be made in any size to fit your space and offer maximum seating flexibility. Long…rectangular…square…round…oval…design a table that suits the dimensions of your room and fits your lifestyle. Tables can be sized for a traditional dining room or for a kitchen nook with freestanding chairs or with benches. It can even be made to fit built-in window seats or banquets. Today’s farmhouse tables can be made with company board extensions to accommodate extra seating – a nod to the original extension tables of yore.
Choose Your Wood
Tables can be made from traditional pine or from premium woods such as rustic cherry, maple or oak. A good farmhouse table is made with long planked construction used by early craftsmen.
Still more options to choose from – new wood or old. Custom tables can be made from reclaimed weathered boards, including old English pine or reclaimed American barn boards. Though somewhat more expensive, reclaimed wood tables are the closest you can come to an authentic antique. Nail holes, saw marks and other imperfections add to the charm of a reclaimed wood table. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, the use of reclaimed wood eliminates the need to cut down a new tree – the ultimate in recycling!
Customize Your Options
Our ancestors had few options for the base of a farmhouse table – a trestle or a turned leg would suffice. But today, choices abound. In addition to the traditional trestle or turned leg, country tables can sit on a round pedestal, a stretcher base, tavern base or the upscale double-pedestal trestle table.
Still more choices! Select the thickness of the top and choose whether you want it planked or seamless construction. Even table-top overhangs can be adjusted.
Add the Finishing Touches
Farmhouse tables made from new wood are generally hand-distressed to provide the character of a well-aged reclaimed wood table. They can be heavily distressed for a rustic look or lightly distressed to impart a more refined aura. Tables can be finished in any color or stain, or in a paint/stain combination. Custom paint and stain options are normally available for an extra charge. Rubs, glazes, peels, washes and even crackle options are some of the finishing touches that make your table unique. Environmentally friendly finishes with clear top coats provide safe and durable finishes.
The end result is a farmhouse table where memories will be made for generations to come.
Brought to you by Cottage Home – specializing in cottage furniture & farmhouse tables