Our kitchen table has been around for about twenty years. Jason built it in college, as a worktable to use to finish his “senior plan” (like a thesis). After college, moving into a cabin only about twice the size of the table, he lent it to some friends who were getting married, and had more space in their lodgings.
When we moved into our house ten years ago, we finally had the space for a large kitchen table, so we borrowed it back and began to use it as a worktable. Within a few years it became our eating table as well, once there were four of us sitting at meals. (Jason rounded the corners after one particularly painful head-bump on the corner by one of the children). And when the children began to have schoolwork, the table was the central workspace for that too. Gradually, the finish has begun to wear off, a couple of scars have appeared, and it has literally taken its place at the center of our household.
Recently, after one of those discussions about table manners that other parents might remember, we decided to try something radical. Jason fetched a saw from the shop, flipped the table on its side and cut 2″ off each leg. The results were transformative, informative, and dramatically altered the way all of us feel when sitting at our table. The children are infinitely more comfortable. They can use their silverware more easily and gracefully. The can hold their sandwiches over their plates without tipping the plate toward them. They are less wiggly, and less likely (I didn’t say unlikely) to tip their chairs.
The adults, however, are more likely to slouch, and while our elbows aren’t on the table as much, it is more work to sit up and a noticeably longer distance from plate to mouth. I’d say that this has made a critical difference in our family life in terms of easing the table-manners struggle right now, but this table is destined to become our project table and not our dining table sometime in the next few years, when our house grows to permit us to have more than one table, and when the heights of half of our family gain a few inches.
All of this drama has gotten us excited to see what you think, feel, and prefer regarding table height. Come to Open Studio Tour this weekend to try out tables of three different heights, discuss the differences, and vote for your favorite. If you can’t make it to OST (or even if you can), measure the height of your kitchen or dining room or work table and send us an email to let us know how tall it is, how comfortable to use, and how you like it.