Tag Archives: walnut slab table

apartment design

A break from the usual studly projects, today this is a posting of photos of the apartment. Come on in!  I’ll muse about decor with street-finds, garage sale items and recycled things.  The dresser above, a Danish-modern wannabe, I found on the sidewalk here in San Francisco years ago.  Being on foot at the time, I grabbed as many drawers as I could (figuring the next person wouldn’t want an incomplete piece) carried those home and returned with a handtruck to get the rest.  The carpet is Flor tiles.  I created the bar code with painters tape when I did the red. The bedside lamps were rescued from the 1950s building that I worked on last year.  The mirror above (not following earthquake rules!) is the door of an old wooden medicine cabinet that I found on the street.  Found night-tables were originally white but we spraypainted them black.  We kept the pointy gold feet.  The old rotary telephone is from the same place as the lamps. There are succulents in boxes on the window sills – our ‘garden’.I picked up this Eames fiberglass chair in a barn for $5 en route to visit Fallingwater; I had to replace the rubber shock mounts but it’s held up otherwise.  It has a paper Herman Miller label on the underside.  This carpet is also Flor tiles.  The shelf is from the aforementioned 1950s building, the orange pot from a San Jose flea market.  Bambi came from Wisconsin via eBay, was silver-leafed and properly displayed.  We had the wood floors painted white when we moved in. Here’s the walnut slab table I posted about last year.  I was given the couch by someone who didn’t like the feathers coming out, which, we live with but I now understand!  The painting above is from the annual Open Studios at Hunters Point.  This room was probably intended to be a dining room because of the high plate rail with grooves in it for displaying your finest china.  We painted the bookcase the darkest color in the same range as the wall gray, so it looks more like furniture than a built-in clunker.  The wall color was suggested by a friend in New York. I originally looked for old lucite lamps, but decided on these glass ones from Target (I know, I know) for much cheaper than vintage goes for – they do the trick!  Those are Heath Ceramic tiles used as coasters.  I guess you could say the jumbled pieces in this room are mid-century meets Hollywood Regency.  I don’t claim to be a decorator, I just end up with what looks and feels right!Here’s the mini-chaise, affectionately nicknamed the ‘dog chair’ by a friend and I who rescued it from the street in the Marina.  It’s diminutive but very comfortable, and I would eventually like to have it recovered.  Upholstery isn’t cheap though.  I got the chrome lamp on Avenue A in New York, which I believe is an Arredoluce knockoff.  I didn’t know that until just now when I looked it up online – real ones fetch $1000s but mine’s not marked. The kitchen is also somewhat of a style jumble, farmhouse to 1950s.  The table is from a sidewalk sale in the neighborhood.  The bistro or Number 14 chairs are from an estate sale up the street, which were unpainted but we spraypainted black and put new pleather coverings on. This is one of two triangle-seated stools we rescued from the 1950s building – I couldn’t resist the turquoise color and shape.  Garage sale Pyrex mixing bowls and some new Fiestaware.  The primary-color set is very old (1940s?) I read because of their non-numbered imprint on the bottom; the pink ones are from the 1950s/60s.  I need to find the two larger ones to complete that set.The rest of the old medicine cabinet now lives by the toilet and holds the essentials.  I used some pretty volatile stuff to strip off several layers of paint down to the original douglas fir.  The paint color on the right is what I found to be the closest match to the Tiffany blue color:  Scuba Green from Benjamin Moore.  Here are two Warhol Marilyns gracing the first half of the 48ft hallway!  The apartment is a shotgun layout with the hallway entirely along one side – (different from a railroad layout) known as a Romeo flat in San Francisco due to the stairway at the front center of the building.  These [grainy!] photos were actually taken over a year ago, and I’ve been meaning to put them up – hence the Christmas lights along the baseboard in this photo.   As some things have changed, more to come!

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walnut slab table

interlude: my walnut slab coffee table.  In 2008 I became enamoured of live-edge tables a la George Nakashima and decided I could (try to) make one of these.  I called around the Bay Area and found a place that stocks slabs, mostly Claro Walnut, kiln dried and ready for a project.   Here are some photos of what I found there, gorgeous slabs of all shapes and ‘figure’ level (grain/pattern).

Not having a shop or any real tools, I selected a slab that needed only some good sanding and finishing.  This was all going to take place in the basement of my building!  I chose this slab below – resting on the old table in front of the couch to see how it would look.

I liked that this slab had an asymmetrical shape, some ‘burl’, good color tone, nice irregular edges – with bark still on – and the size worked for the room.   Walnut has a unique smell, and over the course of weeks sanding it down I got to know it well…  I did a lot of research and found the people on the Sawmill Creek forum to be really helpful – lots to read there!  [My biggest mistake was starting with a low-grit sandpaper, which etched the surface and probably tripled the time it took me to achieve a really smooth surface..ugh..]  For finishing I chose to go with Watco Danish Oil rather than a lacquer/polyurethane finish.  I found that oil brought out better color, it could always be redone in the future, and after talking to some woodworkers I was convinced that this was a more ‘true’ treatment for wood.  Poly would essentially encase it, not enhance it.

This is before and after the oil.  I applied 3 coats.  In the beginning I was paranoid about watermarks, spills, but now I’ve come to accept that these marks will add character and tell a story.  I had a local metalsmith make the ‘legs’ out of 2″ wide 1/4″ thick steel, shaped into rounded rectangles, which I screwed into the slab bottom.  So far, it’s held up well!  Some completed photos below –

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