things that make you feel grown up

January 20, 2012 |  Category:   happy purchases home

There are a few benchmarks in your life that are like markers of adulthood. I remember when we first bought that round dining room table 7 years ago. We were still living on the top floor of the brownstone apartment we lived in when we first moved to this neighborhood. We lived without a table for years. We couldn’t fit one in the studio apartment we lived in on 12th Street in the East Village and even when we moved to that Brooklyn apartment with a dining room 12 years ago, we always opted to eat on the couch.


We bought this table when Mia was a few months old and immediately felt like grown ups. A baby AND a dining room table? The table wasn’t cheap for us at the time (and I’m sort of shocked to see just how much it did go up in price over the years at Design Within Reach), but we saved for it and it looked great in that space.


When we bought and moved to the apartment that we currently live in now, the table came along with us. It was great with a little toddler around. No sharp edges or corners. The table was solid. It worked for the 3 of us. Then we added another baby to our family and the girls started growing. One day, the round table felt too small. There wasn’t much room when we’d have friends or family over. The table started to become filled with homework, papers, drawings and markers. It wasn’t big enough when I needed to trim paper or do a project. We needed a bigger table. Luckily we had the space for one.


I think I started looking for a new table 2 years ago. It’s one of those big purchases that you need to be sure of. Depending on how much cash flow we had, the table search would intensify or die down in spurts over the years, but it was in full force in the Fall. I eventually put it off again after so many of my work projects got postponed and cash flow felt tight. Besides, I couldn’t find the right table and I was undecided on the chairs. In December, however, we decided that we were going to do it. Holiday sales were good so the search was on again. After having looked at SO MANY tables and even considering getting one custom made, I settled on this one that I kept going back to. I also bought 6 new chairs after much deliberation. These are Tolix reproductions, but they are pretty damn good reproductions and they were on sale. A few days later, the chairs shipped (you can see them stacked in that first photo), but I was told the table was on backorder. I can wait though, right?


But the table came today ahead of schedule and it’s here!


It’s a bit darker and the wood has more variation in color and grain that what appears in the photos, but it’s so beautiful and actually fits in with the apartment better than maybe a lighter table would. I think the chairs really work with the table too. The old dining set was too much of the same beech wood color and it was too close to our floors. This new set gives the space more texture and variation. It’s just rustic enough to work with our not so rustic looking apartment. The vintage George Nelson lamp works much better with this set up as well. The longer table also defines the kitchen area from the living area in the open floor plan so much better.

I don’t know…can a new dining table feel life-changing? Because I kind of feel like it does! And if our old dining table made us feel like adults then this table makes us feel like grown ups even more. I mean, we can have placemats! I have all these beautiful placemats that my friend from Dwell Studio gave me a few years back but we could never use them because they didn’t work with our round table. Oh, and centerpieces. Woah. This is like a whole new aspect of decorating that I have never even considered. A fruit bowl? Candle sticks? Maybe we need a candelabra! I’m thinking back to that epsiode of Ellen when she first came on the TV scene with that sitcom, remember? She was responsible for getting table decorations for Thanksgiving (or was it Christmas?) but she ended up dragging palm fronds from the street because nothing was open and the whole table was piled with palm fronds (does anyone remember this or did I just totally make that up?). I don’t know…the centerpiece and table setting possibilities are endless.

And so we are selling our beloved old table. Maybe you are interested? We have so many good memories so it’s a little bit sad, but since our apartment looks like a furniture showroom right now with 2 dining tables, we need to let it go. It’s been well loved – the table top has a few light scratches in it – but it’s still in great solid condition and it needs a new home because…new table NEW TABLE!

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  • laura January 20, 2012 at 3:41 am

    I love it Jenna – we’re still using a well worn farmhouse style pine table which I bought when my daughter was born back ’87! It has so much history (and crayon marks) attached to it….I’ve been searching a replacement for 10 years now and still can’t settle on one I really love. I found one once in Crate & Barrel but couldn’t justify the shipping to the UK. The search continues!

    Enjoy your new table 🙂

  • Juliette January 20, 2012 at 4:13 am

    It’s funny, I just wrote on twitter “I have a real job and a new apartment, does that mean I am an adult now?” and now I stumble into your entry. Everyone has his own moment of feeling a “grown up”. I like that you associate it with the table and you have a whole story to tell about it.

  • mau January 20, 2012 at 4:24 am

    I’ve always wanted Tulip but had never thought of the restrictions that come with a round table before now! I love the new one.

  • Jennelle January 20, 2012 at 4:37 am

    Great choices! The entire space just flows so well together. The price of the table shocked me a bit at first but then I saw that it’s free of VOC’s, solvents and Formaldehyde (eww) which are all things we want to keep out of our home environment.

  • Katie January 20, 2012 at 5:02 am

    i love the new table! good job on the chairs too, i wouldn’t have thought to look elsewhere for different chairs, but they work so well.

    i’m hoping to rent my own place lateron this year & one of the things i’m really looking forward to is having the space to put on dinner for friends (currently i live in a flat of 3 with a table seating 4, so only room for 1 guest, haha!). So I can definitely understand the life-changing quality of the table 🙂

    Katie x

  • cocopuff1212 January 20, 2012 at 5:58 am

    Yes, it is life-changing — I know how that feels. And the table seems to fit perfectly in your space. I like its generous size, and I like the chairs you’ve chosen. Well done.

  • stella January 20, 2012 at 6:02 am

    I think this is the sweetest post I have ever read. I love your blog, there is so much joy in your texts and pictures. I love the enthusiasm over the table and all the new things you can put on it. Btw – place mats – that’s grown up! …I dream of a big white table cloth for our kitchen table. ahhh… 🙂

  • Renita January 20, 2012 at 8:05 am

    It’s a lovely table, very fitting for the growth of your family-Enjoy!

  • Anindita January 20, 2012 at 8:06 am

    Hi Jenna,
    I have been reading your blog for the past year. I have never commented but your topics and writing are so real (for lack of a better word) and so ‘yes, I know what you mean’, I should express my thanks. After the kids are off to school and before I start work, I always click on your blog to see whats happening. Thank you, keep writing, keep living the little but so big moments of life.

  • geena January 20, 2012 at 9:20 am

    looove that table i have a ikea table i’ve managed to squeeze 6 chairs in im the only one sitting here anyways 😛

  • Lecia January 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    I love it, and appreciate hearing your reflections about your furniture purchases. They are often benchmarkers of life.

  • Hayley January 20, 2012 at 9:39 am

    Hah! When my husband and I bought our home, we felt like we might be grown up, but it was only later that week when we went to World Market to buy a real table 9 that should last us forever that we actually felt truly grown up. Tables are just such markers of….meals, really, which are markers of family and growing up and…yep.

  • johanna January 20, 2012 at 10:11 am

    this post made me all teary! what a sweet moment. my mother talks about the significance of similar moments in our family life… can’t wait to experience them in my own. thank you for sharing.

  • Sharon January 20, 2012 at 10:28 am

    That new table is so great and I love the contrast of the dark wood with the lighter floors. I think that when I move into an apartment that actually has the space for a dining room table I will feel grown-up. Until now I’ll have to make do with the compact foldable table in the kitchen in my railroad apartment in Greenpoint. One day…

  • Atsuko January 20, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I love the new table. It is simple, yet rustic. The color of the table matches with your house as if it was meant to be in your house. Searching for what you looking for, especially big household items is a daunting task, but no one should rush or compromise. Now I cannot wait to see future photos centering around this new dining table. Love, love, and love.

  • christine January 20, 2012 at 11:29 am

    i love how you designed your apt! so simple, yet functional and cute, clean and comfortable at the same time! 🙂 Is that a key on your framed poster? I love it 🙂

  • Rebecca January 20, 2012 at 5:01 pm

    Jenna! I so wish I had the space for your loved table and chairs in my teeny manhattan apartment!!

  • kate o. January 20, 2012 at 7:36 pm

    those chairs…love them. when we bought a few a couple of years ago they felt like our entry into adulthood (forget the 3 kids). they were designed for people with kids, right? i need to get a couple more and looked into “industry west” but didn’t know how they’d fit with the ones i already have. your post makes me want to give them a try.

    and what a great table for dinner parties.

  • Cynthia January 20, 2012 at 7:56 pm

    I love the new table and chairs. That’s what I wanted to do with our current table situation but my hubby is attached to our current table due to sentimental reason and the only trade I get out of it is getting new chairs since they are the old 60’s style and they are peeling and you can see the foam inside. How comfy are those chairs?

  • Karyn January 20, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    I thought your round table was lovely too, but the new one’s just gorgeous. When you wrote “The old dining set was too much of the same beech wood color and it was too close to our floors. This new set gives the space more texture and variation,” I immediately realized how right and brilliant you are. (As usual! I love your blog; you’re such an inspiration!)

  • Jess January 20, 2012 at 9:55 pm

    I love your new table and the reproduction chairs. Your story brought back memories when my husband and I lived in a house with no dining room table for 6 months 🙂 They were fun days – despite making do!

  • machenblog January 21, 2012 at 12:35 am

    I love that your wrote an entire post about a table. It’s funny how certain daily routines ground us, for me nothing is more symbolic of family than a dining table. If it were me, I would totally just be on CL looking for some second hand number from CB2 and would just settle, but I’m probably only one eighth of the cook that Mark is. Anyway, it looks great!

  • Shilo January 21, 2012 at 4:54 am

    Is it sold? What’s the diameter? I’m in the market for a small-medium sized table! ( I fear yours might be too big, but you never know)

  • Jenna January 21, 2012 at 8:46 am

    @shilo We’ve had some interest in the table, but no definites – waiting to hear back from someone. It’s 44″ in diameter. Does that help?

  • Louise January 21, 2012 at 3:17 pm

    Dining tables are everything – I totally get your story! I love your new table (yes it is very grown up) and love that you have such lovely memories of your old table. Dining tables are where things happen in family life – they must witness so many conversations, don’t you think? Only last week I wrote a post on my favourite piece of furniture which just happens to be my dining table. Mine has quite a past having been bought new in 1939 by my grandparents. Have a read if you get a mo … Lx

  • gail January 21, 2012 at 3:47 pm

    I am so happy for you that you have a new table. Less square footage on the floor, more where you really need it!

    Round tables create even power dynamics during family meals, but rectangular ones certainly don’t. I speak from experience–it took us maybe 3 years to realize our older daughter had chosen the “place of power” at our rectangular table–the place where there was the best overview of people coming and going, as well as the most convenient place to sit. We solved this by instituting a revolving seating plan, where no one got to claim the best spot. The mood of our family meals became so much mellower. Just a heads up, maybe none of this will happen in your family.

  • Sue January 21, 2012 at 3:52 pm

    I love this post! It made me laugh because I thought the same thing when I finally bit the bullet and bought a nice dining room table. Your new table is gorgeous, I love the wood!

  • tooodayi January 21, 2012 at 6:16 pm

    I love your chairs!

  • joyce January 22, 2012 at 1:38 am

    beautiful table…
    i remember when my husband and i got first married…i moved into the house he was renting which did not have a coffee table. since i still had disposable income, i fell in love with a solid wood coffee table that i saw at pottery barn and bought it. we still have it, it’s followed us with our two moves and i still love it.

  • Katherines Corner January 22, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    It’s a gorgeous table and fits your space beautifully! Hugs and smooches and wishes for a beautiful day

  • Jenna January 22, 2012 at 5:59 pm

    @Cynthia the chairs are comfortable. Maybe a tad cold in winter though, ha!

  • Annie From Seattle January 22, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    Whoo-whee! It looks amazing!!!!

  • A of Little Alexander January 22, 2012 at 11:02 pm

    I love the chairs!

    When we bought this house we lived in it for almost a year with just a small butcher block in the middle of the kitchen to use as a table. Then just before Thanksgiving, using old wood that had been left in the shed here, we built ourselves a proper table (our first ever furniture project). It’s lovely, and it made me finally feel like I really live here. Crazy grown up 🙂

  • Sora January 23, 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Great purchase, Jenna. I like the white inlay detail in the corners of the table too. I also like how you’ve laid out your furniture throughout the apartment. I bet your girls are enjoying the new purchase as well!

  • D January 23, 2012 at 3:13 pm

    love your new table! just pinned you on pinterest.

  • taste area January 23, 2012 at 7:28 pm

    yes. this is the ideal style for dining table for me too. I purchased this dining table ( in a much more lighter shade of wood- eight years ago, even if it didn’t exactly fit at my apartment. but that was the one for me. and yes, it was life-changing. oh, and the tolix chairs are simply amazing.

  • Summer January 26, 2012 at 5:29 pm

    Oh man, this post made me laugh so hard. I felt super grown up when I got my dining set as well. I mean, whoooo do I think I am owning a dining set?!

    Love the look of the new set (esp the chairs!). Glad yall are getting a change!

  • Megan Champion March 20, 2012 at 9:44 pm

    The table and chairs go so great together 🙂 And wow, your apartment looks huge!