Gathering for a meal is one of the most enduring and beloved traditions of the holiday season. No one knows this better than the individuals who craft those dining tables.
“Everybody wants tables for Christmas, always,” says Holly Carmichael, owner of TruWood Artisans in Stony Plain.
Urban Timber owner Darren Cunningham, a member of Avenue‘s Top 40 Under 40 class of 2015, also notices a definite increase in custom dining room table requests toward the holiday season. “We’ve delivered tables on Christmas Eve before,” says Cunningham.
Those looking to purchase handcrafted tables for their spaces should take this holiday swell into account and place orders as early as possible to guarantee a table that’s complete in time for the festivities.
Just like family recipes that have been passed down for generations, a handcrafted table can become an heirloom. The experts have a few tips:
The choice of wood is perhaps the most impactful and obvious decision to make. Shane Pawluk, co-owner of Izm Designs, advises always being mindful of contrasting the table with a space’s floors, while Carmichael says it’s a matter of personal preference; contrast can make a big impact, but some clients will want harmony between the woods in their homes. For Cunningham, who works with reclaimed wood, it’s all about history. “If they [clients] are having trouble deciding between the type of wood they want, then we tell them the story behind the wood. The story usually sells the wood itself.”
For a dining room table that will play host to countless meals and memories, durability is also crucial, and hard woods such as oak are the best bet. However, style sometimes takes priority – both Pawluk and Carmichael cite medium-density walnut as an incredibly popular choice because of its beauty. And don’t get preoccupied with the thought of seating your entire extended family during holiday celebrations. According to Pawluk, the occasional larger group for holidays shouldn’t tempt you to buy a bigger table than you need on an everyday basis. “People don’t care at holidays if they have to squish,” he says.
For a furniture piece that will be the central point of celebrations and special moments, developing a relationship and working with an artisan seems more fitting than simply ordering from a catalogue. Carmichael starts every table with a series of conversations, showing her clients pictures, exchanging ideas, and just talking about what would fit their needs – and that’s before the time-consuming process of aligning color and wood grain. “It’s a much different process [than at large manufacturers] ,” says Carmichael. “There’s a lot more care and love that goes into it.”