Re: Common House Furnishings
From: PattyMara (
Date: Sun, 4 Jun 2000 09:41:40 -0600 (MDT)
In a message dated 6/4/00 9:11:45 AM, joani [at] writes:

<< Katie McCamant, common house designer extraordinaire, suggests that the 
dining room be planned to serve 2/3 of the residents on a "regular" 
 forget to count the kids >>

At Tierra Nueva on the central California coast, this formula worked great 
for us.  We have 27 homes, about 50 adults and 25 kids.  2/3 of that number 
is about 50, or eight tables that seat four.   Joani sat me down at the coho 
conference in Seattle a few years back and talked tables.  Based on her 
advice we used our hand me downs while we custom made tables from our avocado 
wood that got milled from the trees that were cut down when we built.  The 
hand me down tables include both round and rectangular...and we liked them 
both, but the rectangular (to seat 4 or 6) are much more flexible.  Often we 
put a couple of them together to make a longer table for bigger groups....So 
we ended up building 8 rectangular tables, and 2 or 3 round ones (seating 4). 
 We researched bases and ended up purchasing round metal pedastal bases from 
a catalog...and they work great.  The central pedestal allows for easy chair 
access and pesky legs to get in the way--another good tidbit 
from Joani.  

Now chairs.  I know this is in the archives, but I'll repeat the story.  We 
researched available STACKING chairs and found two versions that seemed good. 
 One was from the Pottery Barn, a  handsome alder wood, painted chair with a 
round back, kind of like an eames design, metal legs, interesting colors 
(periwinkle, aqua, natural) on sale at the time for about $50 per chair.  The 
other was from a local office supply store--metal frame, squarish back and 
padded seat, with lots of color options in the upholstery, $45.00 each on 
sale.  So the prices were comparable.  The "look" of the first one was more 
"arty" but the padded seat of the office supply version appealed to the older 
folk for comfort. 

We went round and round and round on this and when it became clear that we 
weren't going to get consensus on one style, we decided to go half and half.  
I think we bought 30 of each.  It seems silly that we couldn't decide, but 
there it is.  

So when we want to do a fancy publicity shot like the one on the cover of 
Solar Today all the periwinckle chairs are set up and the tables set with our 
multicolored Fiesta-ware clones.  It looks gorgeous.  

But normally we use both styles intermixed and it still looks okay to me.  As 
for comfort, I now always choose a padded seat, even though I argued long and 
hard for the other chair based on aesthetics.  Grin.  

Durability has been a telling issue.  It is no surprise that the office 
supply chairs are wearing much better than the pottery barn pretty chairs, 
which have hardware falling off from where the metal legs attach to the seat 
bottom.  These chairs get stacked and moved *a lot* so the construction is 
important.  We worried about the upholstery getting grimey, but it doesn't 
seem to be a problem.  We clean the chairs weekly, or when spills occur, and 
both styles seem cleanable. 

My hunch is that when we need to order more chairs, we'll probably order more 
of the padded chairs, because they are standard and available...and the 
pretty wood chairs .were purchaed  at closeout prices so I know they aren't 
available.  Even now though there are folks who prefer the pretty over the we'll see what kind of agreement we can reach when the 
decision comes up again.  

I would very much advise to put money into your budget to purchase tables and 
chairs for your dining room.  We did, thanks to Jim Leach, and it gave us a 
freedom from the start to get good stuff.  All the other rooms were furnished 
with donations, and that is working just fine too.  

Patty Mara Gourley
Tierra Nueva, cen CA coast, where we are prepared for the "Summer Dining 
Doldrums" by scheduling only 2 meals per week, with a potluck option on a 
third night.  When summer rolls around and families are off on vacations it 
is difficult to keep the energy high for cooking and cleaning team sign-ups.  
It's just the nature of the beast.  We compensate by having barbecues in one 
another's yards or decks with 2 or 3 families and that adds a very 
pleasurable option to the community meals. 

It's all good.   


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