'Just a little less' goes a long way

With a new house comes the challenge (for wannabe minimalists) of fitting existing furniture into new surroundings. There have been pleasing successes such as our ten year old plus 'shabby chic' sofas fitting our new living space and our equally old, much loved pine chest of drawers and Habitat bed frame just squeezing into their new abode. 

However, with downsizing we no longer have a separate dining room and a kitchen diner. We now have a kitchen diner space where we eat together as a family and would also like to entertain up to 8 (at a squash) people. We sold our large extending Ikea dining table and 6 chairs that resided in our dining room and chairs prior to our move and have been using our 3ft square kitchen diner table since moving in. After much searching and researching we had come to the decision to change this table for an extendable version. The best fit was found to be a John Lewis model but as our new house is only four years old we don't want a too perfect look and have been discussing a second hand more 'rustic' look. Of course there are all the other reasons familiar to thrifters and minimalists alike such as cost and not buying brand new when there are second hand options available. 

Hence my early bird journey to Catcott just outside Glastonbury, Somerset on Friday morning; a round trip of five hours to collect my ebay win: an extending solid oak utility table. An opportunity to see the early morning views over  this magical place was a delight in itself and the table is both functional and beautifully aged. Also, of course I was delighted to have saved a considerable amount of money in buying second hand and collecting it myself.

It appears that the table dates from the Second World War and was part of a scheme to help address the severe furniture shortage caused mainly by bombing. The aim was to ensure the production of strong well-designed furniture making the most efficient use of scarce timber. The designs were in the tradition of the Arts and Crafts movement and were simply designed without ornamentation, contrary to the popular taste of the immediate pre-war period. How satisfying that this table was now meeting our needs too, both in functionality and design. Apparently the quality of furniture varied considerably due to the high number of individual manufacturers supplying the scheme but had we been the original recipients of the scheme we would have been delighted by the quality and design of our piece. Its utilitarianism and simplicity suits us perfectly. 

This piece of history is now settling into its new home. It has been christened with curry and red wine and is giving us daily pleasure as it helps morph a new build house into our home. 

It can be hard work sometimes when you are constrained by money and space but the upshot of downsizing is having more time to find solutions and go on adventures.


originally posted Monday 1st October 2012


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