Gather ‘Round the Family Table

When we were newlyweds, I was still in grad school while George was a novice in his field earning a small pay check.   That meant our apartment was furnished solely with hand me down pieces and thrift store finds.  There was no way we were going to let our nest LOOK like it was a thrift store, however.  Instead, we learned how to bring new life to dated or worn pieces.

Our first piece of furniture to renovate was a dining room table and chairs.  I can’t remember, but it may have cost $75 for all  five pieces.  The table was a classic, sturdy pedestal design with two leaves, but we didn’t care for the oak finish.  The chairs had lovely lines, but the upholstery was tattered and the wood frames were rickety.  After spying a Pottery Barn table far outside our budget, we used some paint, fresh fabric, and elbow grease to inspire our own design with our thrift store find.  This project was the first of many similar re-designs we’d tackle.

black Pottery Barn Inspired Table and chairs thrift store redo

After the purchase of our first house, our little Pottery Barn inspired table found a new spot in our dining room.  It was later relocated to our breakfast nook in that house.

Pottery Barn inspired black table, thrift store redo

The buffet behind the table was also a furniture redo we eventually painted solid black.  It is currently functioning as a changing table/ dresser for the boys nursery.

Countless meals were enjoyed around this table.  However, when the quads were old enough for spoon feeds we needed something to accommodate them.  Our solution was to build our own quad feeding table and store our original table in the attic.  With four infants being spoon fed, the quad table proved ideal.  I could easily reach each little birdie for meals, and clean up was a breeze.

quadruplet feeding table/ toddler table

This was the first time the quads ever sat in their table.  At the time, they weren’t sitting independently so I used baby towels to pad them in.

toddler table

Little dangling feet were always my favorite view of the quad table.

When we moved to our new house the quads were 22 months old and still getting good use out of the quad table.  By that time, they were self feeding using utensils and spoon feeds were a thing of the past.  Yet, we still used the table for instructional activities, story time, and art projects.

I could easily facilitate story time from the quad table.  However, the quads do reasonably well sitting in child sized chairs or in a semi circle on the floor too.

I could easily facilitate story time from the quad table. However, the quads do reasonably well sitting in child sized chairs or in a semi-circle on the floor too.

It was relatively simple to clean up after the messiest of art projects at the quad table.

It was relatively simple to clean up after the messiest of art projects at the quad table.

When the quad table was originally built, we hoped to get two to three years use from it. However, as the quads grew it became clear that the quad table’s days were numbered.  Harper grew dangerously close to the 30 pound weight limit for the quad table seats, and he seemed uncomfortable being crammed into it.  Furthermore, the quad table became a point of stress during meals.  All four of the quads could reach anything on the table, which meant they snatched food from each other (and our plates), poked each other with forks, and created numerous shenanigans.  Clearly, the quad table served it’s purpose and it was time to move onto something new.

DIY quadruplet feeding table/ toddler table

This photo was snapped the last night we used our beloved quad table. I’m amazed at how much they’ve grown.

Oh how they've grown!

Little dangling feet will always be my favorite view of the quad table.

In a pinch, we can pad the quads into adult sized chairs, but it’s not good for everyday use.  It’s difficult for the quads to see and reach their food, let alone use utensils.  Consequently, we piloted booster seats attached to our dining chairs.  After trying several designs, we realized booster seats were even more problematic than the quad table.  Booster seats nearly destroyed our dining chair’s upholstery and the quads could easily push their feet against the table and tip backwards.  We considered serving their meals at a child sized table, but that would mean we couldn’t enjoy family dinners.

Even when it was only two of us, George and I ate the majority of our dinners at the table together.  During family meals, we take time to converse with each other about the day’s events and future plans.  We take time to enjoy the meal before us and reconnect as a family.  Because family dinners are of the utmost importance to us, we needed another plan.   After dining out, it occurred to us that restaurant high chairs would be perfect.  They are easy to clean, sturdy, stackable, and include seat belts for safety.  Once I found decent priced chairs, I ordered four from Amazon Prime.

Since the quads still bash the table with their utensils, there was NO way we were spending money to buy a new kitchen table.  It was time for our very first dining table to return from storage.  However, the black paint was nearly a decade old and looked haggard.

We are gradually changing our color palate in the new house from dark colors to lighter hues and accepting them in cheery colors such as butter cream, aqua, and orange.  Our dark table was given a clean coat of aqua paint then distressed using a stain technique that could withstand quads.  In fact, we used the same color and technique we used on our coffee table.  We then painted the chairs white and distressed them with the same technique to give them an antique appearance.  The dingy crimson wall was covered by a soft gray, which effectively brightened the room.

Our accessories didn’t look quite right with the new wall color, but cans of chrome and sunshine spray paint helped coordinate the look.  And, a bold floral fabric on the chairs pulled the entire room together.  Ta da!

Thrift store table and chairs given a distressed finish using stain

We used glitzy letter decals to decorate each high chair.  Since the seat belts are adjusted differently for each child, it helps us remember whose chair is whose.  Plus, we move the chairs around and the quads enjoy searching for their new place at the table.

aqua table, antique white chairs, gray wall

Aside from the fact that I adore the fresh new look of our breakfast nook, it is working beautifully.  Since it’s a traditional family style table, we face each other for conversation.  (I should record some of our dinner conversation with the quads…they are generally humorous).  Also, the center of the table is outside the reach of little hands.  This allows us to serve food from the table instead of getting up to refill little plates thousands of times.  Seriously, with the quad table I’d get up every few seconds to bring more food to the quads and I rarely sat down to enjoy my meal.  Another bonus of the new set up is we can move the high chairs to create space between kiddos or away from the table itself (this is handy if someone is starting to make a mess with their plate).

When we have company join us for dinner, we have room for a few extra chairs so we can all dine together.  Nisey and Grandpa enjoyed dinner with us on Grandparent’s Day last Sunday, and there was ample room for the eight of us.

family dinner

IMG_0165

I was slightly sad to see our quad table go, but it has been re-homed to a family with infant quads. Knowing it will help feed another set of quads makes my heart happy. In fact, this family plans to pass it down to the next generation so who knows how many quad families may enjoy our table.

Where do you dine?

Hugs!

Amber

 

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13 thoughts on “Gather ‘Round the Family Table

  1. Just a thought: Write the kids’ names on the bottom of the table, have the next family do the same & so forth. You never know where this table will end up, and what stories it will tell!

    Like

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