ANTIQUE GAMES TABLES ROCK. Why? Well, first because they are beautiful to behold. Next, because they provide useful storage (there’s a hidden compartment beneath the table-top). And finally, because each one can be opened up to form a table that comfortably seats four. Nifty, right? Take a walk with me, and I’ll show you how I display and use these historic “shape-shifters” in my home:
For the entrance hall, I chose the 19th century mahogany games table pictured above. I use the table to display framed photographs of some of my ancestors. Hopefully my ancestors are pleased with this arrangement.
I have no doubt that during the Victorian era, some grossly-underpaid scullery maid was responsible for cleaning the detailed carvings on this table.
A scullery maid still cleans the table today.
A scullery maid named Kevin.
Another mahogany games table stands near the staircase. This one is Federal-style. Although the table is a reproduction, it is not without a colorful past. For it once belonged to the late, great Dominick Dunne.
I’m kidding about the groaning part. I’ve never seen the table do anything but smile.
You know what makes me groan? The radiator beneath the window on the right. It is covering up some lovely woodwork. Also in the dining room is a Federal Empire games table. It was built some time between 1825 and 1835.
We’ll come back to the dining room and the Empire table in a moment. For now, let’s open the pocket doors and head into the music room.
There, set before a window, is yet another games table. This one is from the mid- or possibly late-19th century. The table has deeply-carved roping along its edge. It also has the coolest set of claw feet I’ve ever encountered. (Note: Ken Burton, a friend who specializes in antiques, says the table was made in Philadelphia, circa 1830.)
The compartment is also useful for hiding things. The scullery maid probably hid her flask of gin there.
All games tables are small in scale, which means they can be moved from room to room as needed. If you’ll wait a moment, I’ll carry the Empire table to the parlor. I’ll even light a fire there, so we can be comfortable.
Your comfort is very important to me.
Now, are you thinking what I’m thinking? A games table could be indispensable in a small house or apartment, because it permits a “dining room” to be made on the spur of the moment. And that dining room could be located anywhere — even the master bedroom.
Since the parlor fire is lit, I might as well show you the Dominick Dunne table fully engaged. Talk among yourselves while I fetch the thing.
If you are interested in obtaining a games table, my advice is to seek one out at auction. Antique versions (as well as high-quality repros) vary in price. For instance, my Empire table — which is not a reproduction — was acquired for $150.00. (I picked it up at a poorly-attended auction.)
If you’d like to see some of the other period furnishings I’ve acquired for this house, I’d be happy to show them to you. Just drop me a line in the comments field below.
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House Tour Part One: The Music Room
House Tour Part Two: The Entrance Hall & Staircase
House Tour Part Three: The Parlor
House Tour Part Four: The Dining Room
From Dominique Dunne’s House to Our House