Peanut Brittle - *i received free samples from cumberland packing corp., maker of monk fruit in the raw. by posting this recipe i am entering a recipe contest sponsored b...
03 November 2011
Having room for a giant dining table has always been at the top of my wishlist for any house. And when we went looking for our place in Truckee, it was atop the must-have list. If I can't fit 12 people around the dining table, I'm not happy. So even though our little LA condo dining room is pretty, it's highly unsatisfying since it can fit -- at very most -- six people.
But -- hooray! -- our Truckee dining room can definitely hold a 12-seater table. That means, of course, that we needed to procure said table, since my sad little Ikea flip-open table is really a four-seater.
I'll spare you all the details of my exhaustive online and bricks-and-mortar search, but I finally found a beautiful, unfinished alder wood table made by Whittier Furniture. The bad news? The only online retailer was based in New Jersey and told me, "It's not worth the money for us to ship it all the way to California." (And I was not a fan anyway of the fact that the table would be made in Oregon, shipped to New Jersey, and then shipped to me in California. Way too wasteful.) So I went onto Whittier's website, and found that a store in Grass Valley, about 50 miles from Truckee, carries Whittier's line. So I called the Grass Valley folks at Country Wood Furniture, and spoke to Shoshana, one of the nicest store owners I've ever talked to, who offered me a discount and promised to work with our timeline. (Final cost: $800 plus tax, minus a discount for a small dent in the leaf. It ain't nothing, but I think it's a great price for a seriously well-made piece of furniture that will withstand wear and tear for decades.)
So last week we got our new table! And you can see it up at the top of the post in its unfinished form. Since we'll mostly just have the two of us at the house, I wanted an extending table that would not seem huge when it's just us. So it's a standard six-to-eight-seater that can expand to hold up to 12.
The big question, of course, was how to finish it. Kind of a big decision. The dining room can feel a little dark, so I wasn't inclined to go super dark. But I did want a rustic look that lighter finishes rarely achieve. The final requirement: I did not want to use polyurethane on the table. I don't really know why I decided that, but I just didn't like the idea of any sort of toxic poly on our eating surface. (Mark reminds me that we do eat off of PLATES, not directly off the table, but still.)
Time for some test swaths...
That's the underside of the table (above) with test swaths (from left to right) of Danish oil in dark walnut, Sherwin Williams stain in pickled white, teak oil, and Briwax in light brown. I had high hopes for the Briwax, but it just looked really dull, and didn't bring out any of the wood's richness. The pickled white stain was also pretty meh. So our two finalists were the Danish oil and the teak oil. As we quickly figured out, Danish oil's color is hugely dependent on how many coats you do and how long you keep the product on. (With both oils, you brush them on, let them stay on for some amount of time, and then wipe them off completely, and they harden within the wood, not on the surface.)
So we decided to do bigger tests, on the undersides of the two leaves.
The teak oil was pretty, and showed a lot of nice wood grain, but it was a bit too yellowy for what we wanted. So the tentative winner was the Danish oil, in one light coat only. But to be sure, I also tested it on the dog bed we have in our family room, taking it from this:
And we had a winner.
As a wonderful bonus, it's crazy easy to use, and fairly forgiving. Brush a bunch on very liberally, wait a few minutes (total of about 10 minutes in our case), wipe it off, marvel at your handy work. Hard to imagine how it could be any simpler.
Some in-progress shots:
So pretty, right?! I have often been caught petting furniture, and you can bet I have been petting this table a lot. We are loving how it looks in the getting-there dining room, especially under the wonderful new pendant light.
Note: That reddish tint is just a reflection of the pine on the ceiling and walls. It's not at all a reddish color on the table, but instead a truly brown walnut tone.
But the story with the teak oil is not over. We still really like how the teak oil brings out the richness of wood without darkening it, but just didn't think it was right for the table. In a smaller dose, though, it is fantastic.
Enter our dining bench, actually the first of two (the second is on order).
I know dining benches are trendy, but I think we'll have benches forever. Mark prefers to sit in a chair, but I love sitting on a bench, and I love how having benches around the table makes the whole vibe more casual, and practically begs guests to put elbows on the table. Elbows on the table are required in our house, and I'm always glad to lead by example. But back to the bench...
I think the teak oil and the parawood bench get along swimmingly. The unfinished areas look so much more drab than the oil-stained parts.
The bench top all done...
Maybe a few years down the road, the different wood tones will drive me batty, and then we'll change it up and restain things. But right now we love it. We don't want anything too matchy-matchy in our casual mountain house, and the different wood tones give everything a slightly more collected vibe.
Up next: updating the wall color with a fresher, brighter, warmer tone, and sprucing up the sitting area next to the dining room. A little preview...
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