Need help finding the right style of dining room table and chairs

linnea56December 1, 2008

I need a new dining room table and chairs. Without a lot of random shopping I have no idea how to find what I want. I hope someone who has been through this recently can point me in the right direction.

My main criterion is that it coordinate with a real antique in the room, an Belgian oak floor-to-ceiling china cabinet that has a medium brown finish.

In a quick run through several stores what I found was mostly: tables/chairs with curvy lines and not oak (mystery wood), or if oak, either modern in style or country, none of which will work. The antique china cabinet (really a bookcase and probably mid 19th century) has straight lines in general but still has some nice carving. I would rather see furniture in person, before I look into buying online.

Tangent: (I would look for another antique except my husband complained non-stop about the antique kitchen chairs we had, that they always squeaked despite being professionally repaired/reinforced several times). I suppose I could always get an antique table and just buy new chairs, though I could only find sets in the local antique stores.

Thanks for any help.

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Your piece is Victorian. Attempting to match the wood, as you have found, will be difficult if not impossible. You are best to concentrate on the style of the furniture. Remember... Not until the late 50's did any home have a "Set" of furniture. People used to purchase by style alone... The woods were whatever the craftsman had on hand. If you go to a local higher-end furniture store, you might be able to get free design assistance. If not, I would suggest hiring a designer to assist you in the selections or to at least help you get started.

Good Luck!

    Bookmark   December 2, 2008 at 12:14PM
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I went to a couple of local stores today, just randomly chosen because they looked like they would carry formal dining furniture (Walter E. Smithe, Thomasville, and Drexel Heritage). As I expected no one had oak (except for mission which stylistically will not go with my china cabinet). So I looked for woods that were the right reddish brown color, which turned out to be, for the most part, mahogany.

What I saw in all of these stores seemed to be really nice quality but I did experience sticker shock. (More from the price of the chairs than the tables: is $300 and up per chair normal? ArghÂ) I realize I havenÂt shopped for much furniture; when our kids were small utility ruled, and most of my good pieces are family antiques that I refinished myself.

Subtracting the styles that wouldnÂt go and ones with distressing (I donÂt like distressing, at least not on a formal dining table), that left really only 2 tables found in 4 stores, one by Henredon and one by Thomasville. All of the stores said they had few styles on display but could order anything from the manufacturer. However ordering was what I didnÂt want to do, since I want to see the wood and workmanship close up. If I have to order anyway I might as well do it online.

I have read about people on these forums ordering online but I have been concerned about getting something that is not the quality I am imagining. Are there any brands or vendors in particular I should look for, so I will not be disappointed?

Thanks for any advice you can offer.

    Bookmark   December 4, 2008 at 10:18PM
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The problem you may be having is that the kind of style you are looking for will, in all probability, also be distressed.

The popularity of the "Old World" look has many manufacturers distressing their pieces. You can also ask for ash instead of oak. They are very similar and I've seen some nice ash tables. I bought one from French Heritage but it, too, is distressed.

Drexel Heritage has an ash table in their Venetian Way collection. I take it, from the stores you've been to, that you're in the Chicagoland area. Have you been to Tomsprice? They have some lovely things there. Geneva Home Works carries Stanley, Hooker and Kincaid.

You are absolutely correct about the price of dining chairs. They can break the bank.

Personally, I like the look of a room with some mismatched woodtones and black thrown in the mix.

You can steal nice dining sets on craigslist.

    Bookmark   December 8, 2008 at 4:36PM
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Linnea, I don't know what your budget is for the table, but I would urge you to look around (on the web and in person) in your area for a custom furniture or table-maker. I was hoping you'd be in my area, as I could recommend one that we recently used, but you're not. At least some custom makers will be experiencing slow business because of the economy, so they may give you a good price. Oak should be no problem as it is not an expensive hardwood. With custom, you get exactly what you want in terms of size, style and wood. You may have to find ready-made chairs as custom may be too steep. The craftsman that recently built our table has a catalog of chairs to order from. I would also suggest that you look at Amish furniture makers. I believe you have some in IL. I found that for the most part they are not full custom, but you may be able to find a style that you like. And they tend to work a lot in oak. Do a lot of looking, as prices vary a lot. Good luck.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 8:08AM
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One other thought, if you don't mind a bit of a trek.

There's a huge furniture store out in the boonies. It's called Goode's or Good's and it's in Kewanee, I believe.
You could spend all day there as it's the size of the stores in North Carolina. They carry just about every manufacturer, at good discounts, from high end to lower like Broyhill. They have Drexel, Thomasville, Stanley etc.

I just found a link that I hope will work.

Here is a link that might be useful: Good's

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 12:41PM
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Wow! I wish I lived closer to that place. Just to compare I did email them for the price on one of the few tables I liked, Thomasville Fredricksburg. I'll see what they say.

I am not in a hurry and may just have to shop around a lot. Going to 4 stores was actually pretty fast, as 95% of what they had would not go. It took more time to get out politely than it did to see what they had. Everyone wanted me to sit down with a book. In all 4 cases I was the only customer in the store.

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:16PM
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I know what you mean, that gives me the creeps.

You might find that Good's won't give you the price of the Thomasville unless you go to the store. I tried with a Drexel/Heritage table and because I had a store within so many miles of where I live, they had a deal with the manufacturer not to give out the price.

Walter E Smithe sells at about the MSRP so I'm sure they'd scream bloody murder if Good's would give out that info. Doesn't make much sense as you can get the price at the store. Guess it just makes it a bit harder to "shop around".

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 1:50PM
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I found that people are giving away perfectly lovely dinning room furnishings - mostly because dinning rooms are becoming a thing of the past -

Based on your descrip of what you are trying to achieve I think you may be much better served purchasing a used set -

I did search on craiglist and quickly found a few

If I had to quess - I'd venture this may be Hendredon

Happy hunting!

    Bookmark   December 9, 2008 at 8:19PM
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