So, last week’s post on interior design renderings got me thinking about a topic that bears reexamining. Here’s the image that got me thinking.
It was the coffee table I sourced that made me pause!
I’m thinking about how designers achieve that mix of styles and time periods that can be really difficult for most homeowners. Now, nobody (at least nobody in the last 20 years) wants a matchy-matchy room. But when it comes to creating that perfect “mix,” most non-designers are stumped — if not downright stymied — by the choices. End result: they stay “safe,” AKA BORING.
How do you create something that is interesting and yet still cohesive?
(BTW, if you REALLY want to learn how to create “The Mix,” the feedback from the Fall 2020 launch of The Home Glow Method — my online interior design course teaching Forever Home owners how to decorate with quality & style that will stand the test of time — has been AMAZING.
I divulge secrets I haven’t shared here on the blog.
The Home Glow Method Spring 2021 will launch later this spring. Make sure to get on the waitlist so that you don’t miss it!)
So, this is an update of a post I wrote a few years ago, but as manufacturers are always changing their offerings, it needed to be revisited!
Articles have been written on the topic of “The Mix” ad nauseum. A few years ago, Laurel Bern did her own post on this ever-fascinating, mind-bending subject. Even considering the fact that Laurel has major design creds, I was a little sceptical back then whether or not she would have new light to shed on this topic for homeowners. However, she did come up with a little jewel of advice.
“No matter what, you can always do a modern-style coffee/cocktail table. Always. Always. Always.”
Bravo, lady! You just said the little jewel that hundreds of people have talked around, and thousands have been waiting to hear, in a single sentence. She goes on to say:
“There are no hard and fast rules [to mixing styles]. There is an art to it and when one starts putting formulas together, I think is when we get into trouble.”
Cheer up! Despair not! The rest of us can learn from study and imitation. (Or enroll in The Home Glow Method ;)) But for now, let’s focus on that coffee table statement!
If you have a modern home, if you have a traditional home, if you want to throw in antiques, if you want glam, if you want neo-trad-meets-casual comfort, or a rustic-iron/wood-accents-with-shappy-chic-slipcovers, I have the coffee table for you that will give you the mix you seek….
The Ming (AKA Asian) Table: The Universal Donor of Coffee Tables
Ming tables come in all sizes, colors, and finishes — woods, linen-wrapped, brass, iron, mother of pearl. You name it. But they have 2 things in common — the Chow legs and/or feet and slight pagoda-like overhang to the top.
Corbusier chairs, a zebra rug, charcoal walls, an ancestral portrait, and a red Ming table.
Andrew Howard goes airy and refined beachy.
Robin Gannon is FABULOUS with “The Mix.” If you want to see more of her work, head to this post.
Definitely a vintage Ming above. Gorgeous with a fresh sky blue and celadon color scheme.
Robin Henry creates an eclectic Boston apartment.
Super traditional Southern elegance by Margaret Kirkland.
Everyday with bits of fun in Lindsay’s family room.
Looks great right in front of Courtnay’s mod upholstered lounge chairs and the Victorian moldings in the living room.
No one paints rooms yellow anymore. Why not, I wonder? I’m DYING to create a yellow room!
Laurel used the above pic to illustrate a sofa that some people saw as traditional and others as contemporary. I was looking at the coffee table.
Airy and light with a dark Ming to ground the space.
Yep, I have one, too. Because of the small scale of the room, this one was custom made by a trade-only shop near the Boston Design Center and is thanks to one of my design mentors and friends Dena Hamilburg, who introduced me to the wonders of what is possible when you’re a trade professional.
I have a source below that will make you a custom, lacquered-linen or grasscloth Ming table to your color & measurement specifications. Keep reading!
A Ming for You, Me, and Everybody
So, if you like this style, the big question is: “Where do I get it?” Your basic wood Ming coffee table can run you $250 +shipping from eBay to $2,500 + for a real antique or a custom job.
A word of caution to vintage buyers — these older tables can run really low … in height, I mean. Like 12″-14″ high. Because most chair/sofa seats cushions are at about 18″ high, modern coffee tables run 16″ on the low side to 20″. If you find a Ming at 12,” you will be reaching DOWN.
No problem if you like the low, hipster, I-still-dress-like-I’m-at-NYU style, but if you plan on serving tea and scones, or even espresso and Oreos, watch out for those low ones.
A number of great options below, including a couple of vintage scores. The square white one near the bottom third of the list is actually is customizable — pick your color & size!
And here’s a little pin to remember this post by.
Next week I’ll be back with a sneak peek at some in-progress projects. ‘Til Saturday then!