Tips on Buying Dining Room Furniture

Aside from focusing on the style of your dining room set, the one thing that should not be compromised is comfort. Dining tables come in various sizes and shapes. The most common being:

36-inch diameter seats 3
42-inch diameter seats 5
48-inch diameter seats 6-8

36-inch square seats 4
54-inch square seats 8

36 x 60 seats 6
36 x 72 seats 6 to 8
36 x 84 seats 6 to 8
48 x 96 seats 8 to 10
48 x 132 seats 12

Formal, informal or kitchen dining tables all need to provide diners with adequate “elbow room.” It is recommended that each person be allowed 24-30 inches and at least 30 inches across the table. Standard dining height is 29-30 inches.

In order to be visually proportioned, 3 feet of space is recommended to surround the table to allow diners to move into or out of their seats comfortably.

Leg placement is also important for comfort and stability of the dining table. Whether the table has a leg at each corner, a center pedestal or trestles, it is important to make sure they are stable by leaning on the table from various angles.

There are several choices for dining room chairs. From Mission style slat-back dining chairs to 18th Century style Queen Anne chairs and English style Windsor chairs, style is not a problem. However, when searching through them, keep comfort in mind.

Dining chairs should allow diners to sit upright while sitting comfortably close to the table and still have support from the chair’s back. While chairs with straight backs will encourage diners to sit up straight, curved-back chairs will provide comfort by following the natural curve of the back. In addition, a curved-back chair will add softness to a room plagued by straight lines.
Lastly, arms of chairs should be low enough to slide under the table with adequate space between the underside of the table and your thighs.

Once you have found the perfect style and fit, be prepared for great reviews from friends. They will be amazed at how comfortable and accommodating your dining room is and how it accentuates your lovely style.

The Craftsman Movement & The Gamble House

At the turn of the century, Southern California gave birth to the Craftsman movement, which quickly spread to the rest of the country through pattern books and popular magazines. It became the dominant style for smaller houses from 1905-1920. In varying forms, it became affordable to almost anyone, from the working man to society’s elite.

Primarily inspired by the architectural works of brothers Charles and Henry Greene, of Pasadena, California, the Craftsman house was a departure from the formal ornamentation of the Victorian. Literally a breath of fresh air, it exuded a oneness with nature, a casual lifestyle, and an air of elegant simplicity for a servantless society.

The Craftsman house seemed to grow out from the land and took its clues from nature. Great sheltering overhangs provided air conditioning, relief in the winter, and psychological sheltering; wall cladding, usually of wood clapboard or shingles; stepping stones that looked like they were left there to stumble upon; and interior designs were reminiscent of the great outdoors.

Although the Greenes were influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie Style and the elemental forms of H. H. Richardson, they were immensely impressed by the Japanese idea of the functional house. Responsive to adverse laws of nature and rapidly changing family needs, it stressed the relationship of structure and design, subtle proportions and the integration of a building into its natural environment. Aided by these theories, their interest in the English Arts and Crafts movement, and their background in manual arts, the Greenes created the “California Bungalow”.

Their 1908 masterpiece, The Gamble House, in Pasadena, highlighted their utilization of exposed joinery that seems to grow out of the house, post and beam construction, airy verandas and ambulatories, the use of earthy materials, and the close relationship of house and garden. Asymmetric and horizontal, it slices out a picture of natural beauty. The low-pitched, gabled roof, wide eave overhang, exposed roof rafters, triangular braced supports, transomed windows (in 3’s) are typical Craftsman ideals.

The Japanese influence is seen in the relationship of the house to nature, exposed beams, the flair of the chimneys and garage roof, and the stylized Japanese “Cloud Lift” design, seen on doors, windows, lamps, carpets, furniture, picture frames and elsewhere throughout the interior and exterior of the house.

Other motifs adding unity are the “Tree of Life”, the “Oak Leaf”, sets of 3, and the “Crane and Rose” (the Gamble family crest) with the most diligent attention to every detail.

Upon entering and leaving the Gamble House, one is awestruck by the front door. From the outside, a reflection of what appears to be an oak tree vertical behind you. The vertical cloud lifts, sets of three, and Louis Comfort Tiffany glass (up to three glasses thick) are a clue as to what you are about to encounter as you step beyond. They entice you in with a serene, calm, yet exciting look that whets your appetite for more. The horizontal bar below the transom is another motif carried throughout the house on many windows. The bars look like curtain rods, but in fact are there to add unity. This horizontality, also seen in the sweeping broad lines of the house exterior, provides restfulness.

As you look at the door from the inside, the same oak tree, now seen beyond the house, gives a feeling of being a part of nature. The stained glass scene, ever so sensitive to light, changes dramatically as the day wears on.

Impeccable wood joinery is the highlight of the breathtaking interior. Everything is covered. Scarf, lap, and finger joints (mordis and tendon) leave no crevice exposed.

The Japanese-inspired lack of clutter and ornament, and the desire for function are exemplified by the Greene’s extensive use of built-ins. Built-in dining room drawers hold linen and other items. So concerned were the Greenes about unity, that they built in much of the furniture so that whoever lived there would not bring in any unwarranted items that might ruin the ambience.

The themes mentioned above are repeated throughout the room. Sets of three can be seen in the vertical wood pieces just below where the wall meets the ceiling, in the three stained glass windows, the three circular lines on the handing lamp, the clover-shaped wood pieces connecting the lamp to metal straps, the leaded glass cabinet windows, and in the number of tiles on each side of the fireplace. The cloud lift was placed on leaded glass cabinet doors, the stained glass windows, and all three of the lamps.

Like the front door, the window carries on it the “tree of life” motif and changes colors throughout the day so those living there can look forward to and enjoy every nuance of light.

The mahogany table is suba shaped, as is the chandelier. All the furniture in the house was either designed by the Greenes or Gustav Stickley. The fabric covered walls are painted over. The carpets were brought in to add color.

The fireplace uses groovy tile with an inlay of Tiffany glass in a vine pattern that matches the Tiffany glass in the bowl on the table. The vine pattern of the Tiffany glass ties in with the stained glass windows. Everything fits together like clockwork.

If you're interested in discovering more about the architects Greene & Greene or about the Gamble House you can visit:

If you're interested in viewing beautiful reproductions of Greene & Greene furniture you can visit our sister site at: Barn Furniture Mart

History of The Barn

The history of Barn Furniture Mart, Inc. begins with a store called the “Whittler’s Barn.” This wooden barn had served as an unfinished furniture store that catered to local farmers and had been in existence since 1890. The “Whittler’s Barn” once stood at The Barn Furniture Mart’s current location on Sepulveda Boulevard near the Victory Boulevard intersection.

Across the country, future Barn Furniture Mart owner, Phil Tuberman worked in the bicycle business at the age of fifteen. It was the Depression of the 1920’s that gave this young man the opportunity to run a bicycle business of his own, when his former boss offered him a store. Phil Tuberman ran “Phil’s Bike Shop” in New York along with his two older brothers, Frank and Harry.
Barn Furniture
After all three brothers served in WWII, only two survived. Phil and Harry lost their brother, Frank while he served in France. The two surviving brothers decided to move to sunny California, with no money and their bike shop failing.

On his way to California, Phil played a lucky hand of poker that won him $8,000. When he got to Los Angeles, he kept hearing about the developing San Fernando Valley. He ventured through the desolate valley in 1945 and came across the “Whittler’s Barn” and managed to buy the store, property and merchandise with his $8,000.

He used his previous experience as a bicycle shop owner and former connections to create “The Barn Furniture and Cycle Mart,” where he sold bicycles that he got from India, and unfinished furniture. However, by 1949, The Barn Furniture Mart stopped selling bicycles and sold only furniture.
Phil Tuberman also decided to start a family around this time. He married and had two children, Andrea and Leon Tuberman.

By 1955, The Barn Furniture Mart began selling patio furniture in addition to the unfinished furniture. It was a true family business with Millie, Andrea, and Leon all having responsibilities within Phil’s business.

Tragedy struck the Tubermans when Phil was involved in a traffic accident and spent the following three years in the hospital. Millie and Leon, then 15-years-old, took control of the business.

In 1971, The Barn Furniture Mart evolved yet again when Leon decided that the furniture being sold should be finished, taking the burden of the hard work off the customers. 1972 brought solid oak toilet seats that became extremely popular and ball & claw tables that continue to sell successfully. A major innovation came in 1978, when Leon achieved major success by creating butcher-block tables that were made out of solid maple.

In 1984, the Tuberman family grew with Leon getting married and starting a family of his own, but also lost an important member of the family. Phil Tuberman passed away the same year.

By 1996, The Barn Furniture Mart had expanded to seven stores spread out throughout Southern California. While there were several benefits to having so many locations, the comfort and ingenuity of having the one major, family-owned business that began The Barn’s success was missed. The original store and all the sentiment that came with it prevailed, and all the other stores were consolidated.

By 1995, Barn Furniture Mart began catering to their online customers through Internet sales. Now, customers can buy the unique pieces that set The Barn Furniture Mart apart nationwide. With the website being up since 1986, The Barn has shown to be aggressive with its use of technology.

In the future, The Barn will continue in the direction that has led the way thus far. By servicing customers and friends for over three generations, word of mouth will continue to be the corner stone of the store’s advertising. The excellent quality, value and service will keep bringing in new customers as well.