Thursday, 3 July 2014

Gertie's table


If, like me, you like to while away a bit of free time looking at pretty pictures on Pinterest, Tumblr and the like, you'll probably have noticed the trend for photographing things from above on old wooden tables.

The 'things' usually take the form of artfully-styled food or cups of steaming espresso; books open at particularly profound passages (accidental alliteration there, I promise) or that Kinfolk magazine I've never actually read for myself.

Anyway, I'm not one to turn my nose up at trends unless they're really silly. I quite like this style of photography and Gertie's table is proving to be a great backdrop for photos of objects. So before I go on, I'll explain a bit more about the table and where it came from.


Gertie was my stepdad's mum. I only ever saw her once. I say 'saw' as we didn't really meet - she was very ill in hospital and I accompanied my parents when they visited her. Sadly she passed away a few weeks later.

She'd lived in a little terraced house and my stepdad kept some of her things, including this table and a big trunk (which I'm also custodian of). They both came with me to Bond Street and my last house, but despite being quite small - it seats four - the table wouldn't fit anywhere so has spent the past four years in Jay's mum's garage.


I'm nothing if not honest: I thought we should maybe just give it away but Jay was insistent we kept it. So we did. And a week or two before our move he collected the table and I spent a few very hot, dusty afternoons out in the back garden sanding away then polishing it with beeswax.

And the reddish-brown varnish came away to reveal a nice  - what? Damp sand? Walnut shell? - colour.


I love the fact that it's old. The little metal plate underneath proudly declares it's a radical 'Gate-less' table. I also love the little nicks and marks (I like to think, with romantic optimism, that some are ink stains). 


So now it lives in the 'family room', a big room at the back of the house. It's underneath the window and we sit and eat there* and I write there too. Although the computer lives in another room** so that kind of writing is done at a more office-y type desk.

It gets lovely soft light falling on it and is regularly polished with wax and it's now my favourite piece of furniture.

So that's the story of Gertie's table.

P.S. The lavender in the top photo was a steal: £1 a bunch from the supermarket whose name starts with 'M' and it smells gorgeous.

*I bought some PVC-covered fabric for mealtimes as Joe is a typical messy toddler. 'Character' is fine but welded-on fish finger is not.
** He also likes to grab at play with anything electrical, valuable and breakable.

17 comments:

  1. Hello Sarah,

    Well, we would be living in a completely bare apartment if we had not kept anything that had been passed down to us. We love your table and like the fact that it has such history. What tales it could tell of the people who have sat at it over the decades. We are sure that it will serve you and your family well, even standing up to the rough treatment of a small child. Perfect!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you! I do love things with a story (even if I have to make the story up). And the table is extremely heavy - with a bit of care I'm hoping it should last us for many years to come...

      Delete
  2. My gran was a Gertie and you have reminded me of her dining table which was a drop-leaf table with twisty legs and round which we used to eat roast lamb and mint sauce. A lot of those tables you see on pinterest are actually bits of old doors or other suitable backgrounds. I like that you are using a real table.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Me too! It hadn't occurred that people were using pieces of wood (despite having previously considered doing just that myself)...
      We'd had our eye on a huge Ikea table which would have come in at over £200 with a couple of chairs or a bench but I think Gertie's table is far superior, despite being smaller.
      And my stepdad is quietly pleased that it's been given a new lease of life.

      Delete
  3. I'm sure Gertie would be very pleased that her table has a new lease of life and will be enjoyed by a new family.

    ReplyDelete
  4. It's a funny thing, last year I inherited a table and chairs from my Dad's Mum, who I never really saw either, and we love the furniture so much! It has character and memories as well, although it is a very different style to yours (ours is Ercol), I too like to photograph things on the table top, it makes such a great background for all sorts of things and the light is often good too! Our inherited tables make great photographic props for us both, and your lavender looks lovely on your table!! xx

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Wow, Ercol is very covetable! And I love the fact that it's a family piece too. There's definitely something about second hand (or 'pre-loved') that makes things special.
      We originally had the table against a wall but it was meant to be by a window I think. We get to look outside whilst sitting there and yes, I think I may have found the perfect indoor photography spot!
      Glad I'm in good company with the whole table love thing that's going on...
      S x

      Delete
  5. I can bring you armfuls of lavender if you want them? We have 12 bushes in the garden so wouldn't miss some :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Definitely! I really wanted some last year to dry and make bath salts with but it was silly expensive to buy. I'm up for giving it a go this time around...
      You'll have a very fragrant car by the time you get here on Saturday!

      Delete
  6. What beautiful wood! I should sand my old table, but it still has glitter on from some project it did as a kid.)

    ReplyDelete
  7. Gertie's table is lovely! How wonderful to know it comes with history.

    ReplyDelete
  8. I like Gertie's table, and I like the history behind it. I quite take photos from above. It gives a nice perspective. But then I've always jumped on a bandwagon and enjoyed the ride. I'm nothing if not a crowd pleaser!
    And yes a bit of oilcloth is essential. I have just bought a lovely yellow polka dot piece from Ebay.
    Love your blog
    Leanne xx

    ReplyDelete
  9. It's lovely, how nice that you managed to keep it and give it a new lease of life. I shall look forward to lots of photos of things artfully arranged on it! CJ xx

    ReplyDelete
  10. What a beautiful table, I love the colour now its been sanded and given a new lease of life. Such a great backdrop for your photos. xx

    ReplyDelete
  11. Your table is so beautiful! We have an oilcloth tablecloth too for the same reasons (and the fact that I'm not unknown for spilling stuff too!!) - I lifted it the other day to remind me what the table looked like! I still like it (Phew!!). A wonderful backdrop for your photos and for you to enjoy for many years xx (PS that lavender is gorgeous!!)

    ReplyDelete
  12. I love the story of Gertie's table. It is beautiful with the lavender on top. I imagine you are beyond delighted that you didn't give it away. Bee xx

    ReplyDelete
  13. What a great story. I am so glad you kept it, pieces of furniture like this are to be treasured. It is a very gorgeous colour now.

    Are you on Instagram? It's chock full of downwards table shots of nice things, like Kinfolk magazine, which I buy now and then as a very guilty pleasure as it's SO ludicrously overpriced, but it's also very good...that's what I tell myself anyway. xx

    ReplyDelete

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...