Last November my General Manager, Heidi Ryan, and I decided to restore the Victorian dining room at the Carriage House Bed and Breakfast. The room is about thirty feet long and twelve feet wide, so there is a lot of space to fill. We decided to “commission” a custom-built dining room table from Steve Speltz, who owns Custom Hardwoods in Rollingstone, Minnesota.
“The Table” as it is now known, was to be 18 feet long and 4 feet wide constructed of solid cherry wood. As the project progressed, Steve decided to inlay strips of maple on the sides of the table to match the antique maple floor in the dining room. The result was the most beautiful piece of furniture that I’ve ever seen. The top of the table contains four large cherry surfaces, glued at both ends and in the middle with cherry cross pieces. Down the entire length of the table are two open slots engineered to allow the wood to contract and expand without splitting. The table is as elegant from the bottom as it is on the top; an incredible piece of workmanship. The table easily seats 18 people; coincidentally exactly as many as the table in the PBS’s Downton Abbey!
The table was delivered in one piece, legs attached. It took six men to bring the table into the dining room, veins in their necks standing out as they hoisted it through the snow, on to the front yard, over the front porch railing, and through the front door. Finally it was put in place, probably to remain in the house as long as it stands.
As a non-architect it is difficult for me to explain this, but “the table” has almost taken on a life of its own readily offering its services for various projects. Guests who eat their breakfasts on it are simply amazed at its size and beauty. The other day Ethan had lunch in the middle of the table, three students did homework at one end of the table, and four young ladies signed a lease at the other end. The table has been used to complete puzzles, fold sheets, grade homework, tutor students, host a super bowl party, and to organize paperwork for income taxes!
My relationship with “the table” is unique. It took me about 3 days to totally fall in love with this piece. I don’t feel deserving enough to own it, but I’m blessed to have purchased the fruits of craftsmanship from the hands of a humble and blessed workman like Steve Speltz. A contractor once told me, “Quality remains supreme long after price is forgotten.” How right he is! I’ve not thought about the price of the table since the second the ink dried on the check, but this masterpiece will endure for many years. Thank you, Steve Speltz! “The Table” simply must be seen to be appreciated!
The table looks very nice, Don. It compliments that room very nicely. Both turned out very well. So beautiful!.
Document the history of the table like you have in the blog. Who was the craftsman/artist? How and when was it moved in? When was it made? How many $$? Include a picture of you seated at the table, etc. Print, sign, laminate and fasten to the underneath of the table. This way the story of the table remains with this classic piece of furniture. Better yet, go to your history faculty or historic association and inquire about the standard for documenting a piece of furniture that will someday be a classic. You could also print, frame and hang in the dining room so visitors can read the story/history of the table also. This documentation will add to the quality of the experience of dining at the table for all guests, and forever. There may come a time when someone will say, “I wonder where this table came from.” Your document will tell the story of the table. This documentation will add to the value of the table as well.
Hi Don, I agree with Steve on documenting the table…I’d do the same for putting the room back to it’s original way. The pictures you showed us on the progress. History of a beautiful home. One doesn’t have that anymore. The closets I came was the first and second homes that Larry and I had…wish I still had the first one.