Monday, 30 November -0001

Home Help 27th Jan

If you dine à deux on week days, but tend to have a houseful at weekends, a large kitchen table means there will always be room for extra guests, says Hugh St Clair

Written by Hugh St Clair
Recently, when asking friends about their Christmas, the response was longer than I expected. 'It was all right fitting round the kitchen table when the boys were small, but now they are young teenagers and there are some new additions to the family, eating a festive meal has become rather squashed,' they reported. 'We had to drag in furniture from all over the house and everything was at different heights.' So I offered a few suggestions.

Chris Kirkland buys decentsized antique kitchen tables from the servants' quarters of the country houses of England and sells them in his Tetbury shop, Antique Kitchen Tables.

'In the course of sourcing genuine antiques we sometimes have the chance to buy tables that the owners believe are genuine, but which we notice have been adapted in some way. If these tables are attractive, practical and have character we purchase them, but we pay less than for the genuine article, so sell for less,' says Kirkland. On his website I saw a later copy of a 6ft 6inlong Victorian-style table in solid pine for around £650. A genuine one with stately-home provenance will sell for £1,350.

Many people have specific requirements and Kirkland will oblige by copying old tables. Nowadays, people are after simple 19th-century farmhouse tables with slightly tapering legs painted in a cream or blue, with a drawer at the end. But if there are usually just two of you dining, and 12 or more on high days and holidays, an extendable table is the perfect solution. Antique Kitchen Tables offers a design that can easily be extended from 5ft to 8ft long and over 3ft wide so that two can sit at each end.

In Wisborough Green, West Sussex, there's a barn full of French tables in fruit wood, antique oak and elm. The tables are elegant with a glorious patina, and some are up to 10ft long. Maybe one with an extending leaf would be the best idea. In the barn of Antique Tables & Country Furniture is an extendable, 1840 cherry wood singledrawer- leaf table, on slender tapered legs. These items are more expensive than their English counterparts, ranging from around £3,500 to £5,000 for a decent-sized one.

But perhaps it's a good time to buy an antique dining table in mahogany or walnut. Period brown furniture is now less fashionable so prices have fallen. I was very disappointed when an inherited dining table failed to reach its reserve at auction – I was hoping to get around £3,500 for an early 10-seater Victorian mahogany table with leaves, but it fell short by £1,000. Searching antique shops on the internet, I found a George III plain gateleg table for under £2,000.

The Antique Table & Chair Company in Mobberley, Cheshire, has a good selection of tables ranging from fourto 20-seaters. Most eight- to 12-seaters cost around £1,500, but a Regency one with provenance could set you back as much as £7,500.

Antique Kitchen Tables 45 Long Street, Tetbury, Gloucestershire: 01666-502440, www.antiquekitchentables.co.uk

Antique Tables and Country Furniture Wharf Farm Newbridge, Wisborough Green, Billingshurst, West Sussex: 01403-786272, www.antique-tables.co.uk

The Antique Table & Chair Company Oak Tree Farm, Knutsford Road, Mobberley, Cheshire: 01565-874075, www.antique-co.com

Email enquiries to Hugh St Clair at homehelp@lady.co.uk



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