A Dining Table to Remember

November 26, 2020 | Alden Miller Interiors, Design Lab

Our clients were looking for a refuge from city life when they found this Sonoma wine country retreat. They wanted a second home with enough open space to welcome extended family and friends comfortably, and a place where their children could return to as they grew up and out of the house. The property is now their country escape where they gather friends and family to dine al fresco, swim, connect with nature, and relax. Alden Miller Interiors designed the interior and exterior spaces to create this home away from home.

One design challenge our clients faced was a beautiful old growth walnut tree that had to be removed for the building of their new home. The family was devastated to cut it down, and the decision was made to incorporate the tree’s wood into the home wherever possible. From this one walnut tree was born a mirror, two console tables, a bar cart, and a showstopping dining room table that is now the centerpiece of the formal dining room.

Northern California Black Walnut trees are typically large trees with a single trunk and 10-40 feet branches. The wood is particularly good for furniture making due to its good wood-working properties and beautiful grain patterns. Once the tree was cut down, it was milled into long boards. To get the wood into shape for building furniture, the boards sat outside on the property for an entire year to adequately dry out. Since walnut is a hardwood it needs to sit stacked with spacers between each board to allow for good airflow between them.

Once the wood was ready to be worked with, the woodworker began building the dining room table. The design of this large table has a special twist. Since the family had a tradition of hosting Thanksgiving dinner with an adult table and a kids table, we imagined how to incorporate this idea of separate tables on occasion in the room and still have a single grand table. From there, the idea to have two exact, matching tables was born.

When connected, the table offers a single, large surface to entertain and gather. When the family opts to separate guests, the table pivots and can be moved around the room. This provides a multifunctional way to use the table and the room depending upon the event or situation. To accommodate the ever-changing table configuration, the room’s lighting includes two overhead light fixtures without a significant drop.

This dining room has now become the memorable place where the family congregates year after year for Thanksgiving dinner and other big occasions. The overall warmth of the room is emphasized by the warm tones of the walnut table. The property had to give up the tree, but it lives on here at the heart of home. This dining room table is a one-of-a-kind heirloom piece that is sure to be handed down through generations.