Tuesday, February 1

Parson table re-mix

You might recognize this Parson table from my mom's office. We got a new tv here at the Sittema pad and she graciously allowed me to steal it right out from under here so we could put the tv on it. It originally came from my dad's veterinary practice and my guess is that it is from the 70's. We decided to paint it a high gloss white which will  (one day) smartly juxtapose my dream classic pieces such as tufted back club chairs (unfortunately, they might not be chartreuse like the ones we have now...darn), an English roll arm sofa, etc. I am in LOVE with my freebie Parson table. 
I began by using wood filler and a putty knife to fill in some dings.  

Then I sanded that blue laminate down...laminate, yes, but this is one solid piece. That laminate was tough stuff, built to last.

I used Benjamin Moore in Mountain Peak White (not too white, very subtle warm undertones, no blue undertones, perfect for this). We had a few snafus throughout the process. 1) I forgot to start with a primer...ooo boy... it took us three, maybe four (I can't even remember) coats to cover that blue. 2) I used a high gloss latex which I love using because it cuts out the extra poly step (everyone has their own way to paint, try them all and use your favorite) BUT the high density foam rollers that we used to paint the bookshelf ages ago kept causing bubbles (they were unused). Apparently with a high gloss the best roller to use is a mohair...sounds fancy and it works.
And now she is the home to our tv. Her leggy form unfortunately leaves everything else to be seen...oh well. One day she will be an amazing desk or sofa table or bar...until then she will hold our tv, against an equally while wall.

I realize that I left off on our history of furniture lessons last semester so here is one for today. An article from the New York Times on the history of the Parson table:

Now considered the Gap pocket T of American interior design, the Parsons table used to be a deluxe decorating item, available only to decorators and architects who had it custom-made by cabinetmakers. Even so it seems to have somewhat egalitarian roots.

In the most likely version of the story the French decorator Jean-Michel Frank, the undisputed master of luxurious minimalism, was lecturing at the Paris branch of the Parsons School of Design in the 1930's. According to an oral history in the Parsons archives, Frank challenged students to design a table so basic that it would retain its integrity whether sheathed in gold leaf, mica, parchment, split straw or painted burlap, or even left robustly unvarnished.

What grew out of Frank's sketches and the students' participation was initially called the T-square table, rigorously plain but with stylistic distinction: whatever its length or width, its square legs were always the same thickness as its top.

Stanley Barrows, a Parsons student who became one of the school's most celebrated professors, recalled that the student creation was brought to 3-D life in New York by a handyman janitor at Parsons. Exhibited at a student show, the table, whose designer remains unknown, quickly became a favorite of tastemakers on both sides of the Atlantic.

In America the first Parsons tables were mass-produced in 1963 by two leading furniture companies, Mount Airy and Directional. And since then the design has been knocked off at every conceivable price in every possible material, including plastic. Ikea makes the tables, as does West Elm, whose 36-inch-square coffee table, above, is veneered fiberboard; $199 at westelm.com or (888) 922-4119.

And there you have it. 


Natalie said...

Love the FREE Parsons table!! It looks great with the high gloss white paint.

Riley said...

Thanks Natalie! We are thinking of doing a gallery arrangement of our art around it, you know, scavenging the house bare :)

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