NZ House & Garden - - CONTENTS -

If i had to pin­point the emo­tional epi­cen­tre of my home, it would be our round rimu din­ing ta­ble. Its chunky styling speaks of the mid90s, when solid rimu fur­ni­ture was de rigueur, and I went back to work full-time af­ter rais­ing kids. I took the job partly so I could af­ford to buy that ta­ble and its eight match­ing chairs. It cost $6000: an ex­trav­a­gance. “We’ll use it a lot so it’s worth it,” I said to Nick in jus­ti­fi­ca­tion.

And so it turned out. To­day the table­top is a mesh of small scars from two decades of fam­ily life: scrib­ble im­prints and scalpel cuts (kids’ art­work); pin scratches (sewing ses­sions) and – in­trigu­ingly – four small punc­tures where some­one stabbed it with a fork.

I look at my ta­ble and re­mem­ber the peo­ple who sat around it: my school-aged kids in hand-knit­ted jumpers; my mother, who loved a heated din­ner-ta­ble de­bate and is now word­less in a de­men­tia ward. Some­times I catch my­self stroking its pock-marked sur­face.

I’ve al­ways as­sumed my fond­ness for our ta­ble was a per­sonal thing: a symp­tom of an overly sen­ti­men­tal dis­po­si­tion. In the past few weeks, though, no less than three pub­lic fig­ures have waxed lyri­cal about their ta­bles.

First, best-sell­ing au­thor Nicky Pel­le­grino filed a col­umn for this is­sue, in which she speaks mov­ingly about her unlovely and much-loved ta­ble, and the messy din­ner par­ties she has had around it. “I wouldn’t give up [my ta­ble] for the world,” she says on page 122.

Then the nation’s two top politi­cians voiced their din­ing-ta­ble af­fec­tions in sep­a­rate fea­tures on our web­site,

Bill English, it turns out, has a big rec­tan­gu­lar ta­ble that he nom­i­nates as a favourite fam­ily trea­sure: “I re­ally like it,” he says. “We can fit the whole fam­ily around it.” (Six kids!)

Jacinda Ardern has a ta­ble she bought off Trade Me and re­furbed with a friend. It is, she says, her of­fice as well as her favourite piece of fur­ni­ture.

It took me by sur­prise, this pub­lic out­pour­ing of ta­ble-at­tach­ment, and made me think afresh about how in­cred­i­bly im­por­tant it is to get the right ta­ble – and how, for me at the mo­ment, this is prov­ing a dilemma.

In the plans for our new house, the ar­chi­tect has drawn a big rec­tan­gu­lar ta­ble in the mid­dle of the open kitchen space. It’s a fo­cus of the room, and I can see that a rec­tan­gu­lar ta­ble suits the space bet­ter than a round ta­ble would. So Nick and I have been look­ing at new ta­bles. The ones we like best are an­tique or made of re­cy­cled tim­ber, be­cause they feel as if they have seen a bit of life.

But I am not con­vinced. “Why would we swap out a piece of our fam­ily his­tory for some­one else’s?” I say to Nick. I’ve de­cided I’ll take our old round ta­ble to the new house… just to see what it looks like. Watch this space.

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