A Brilliant Surprise in the Library



In the library I built this island out of 2x12s. Stained orange. The color? I must have been drunk. Last year I moved the island to the north a bit, creating a sitting area next to the window, and moved the right pendant light over to the far left.


The island looks better in the image than it does in person. In person, it looks cheap. It IS cheap! I had intended to top it with marble matching the marble-topped Saarinen Tulip table in the adjacent parlor. But, the quotes I received stopped this idea from proceeding.

With the library now….at last…soon to be fully decorated, my mind has been restless with Thoughts About The Island. I knew that with the library finally done, the island would really stand out: a Beverly hillbilly in an elegant abode.

My mind pondered…and pondered…and pondered…and pondered.

This pondering has actually been ongoing. Last year, Dr. Doug and I discussed covering the island in a kinda, well, condom. A new cherry top and sides to slip over the island.

The cost though scared me.

So, the pondering continued. Magnifying of late.

A few months ago a masterstroke leapt into my mind. And, really, y’all will agree: a friggin’ masterstroke, man!

Rather than try and improve the island, I would replace it. But, with what? And, could this be done on the cheap?

The masterstroke? Buy a fabulous dining table. With legs along the outer edge. Then install shelves UNDER the table. Painted black.

As such, I could have a GORGEOUS island and retain the all-important shelving.

And this is when Kenny came to the rescue.


I found a table I liked. But it was…YIKES…$1400. And three hours away.

Then I was breathless with excitement about another table that was pretty ideal but only $60, and 2 hours away. Yes, $60! However, it sold minutes after being listed.

And then table after table after table. It was vital that the table be within driving distance.

Last week though Kenny alerted me to a table in…I am not joking…Emporia. Just two blocks from the Cross House. A minute away. For $500.

Wanna see the Kenny find?


Only after buying the table, and doing some research, did I discover that it was by Henredon (which produced high-quality furniture for decades), was made (it seems) in the 1990s, and was valued at around $4,000. Golly.


A highly distinctive detail was this quartz edge. I have never seen anything like it. Note, too, the fluting on the legs.


There were two leaves. In getting them into the Cross House, the quartz edge was revealed. This is sooooooooooo amazing!


Yummy. Nothing about the table looks 1990s.


The table top is spectacular. Zounds.


Above all, I wanted something which would complement the original mantel. Note the fluting on the columns.


In short: KENNY SCORES!!!!!!!!




  1. Leigh on September 27, 2022 at 1:32 am

    Amazing table! Bravo Kenny! The house cats will approve.

  2. LS on September 27, 2022 at 1:32 am

    That is absolutely beautiful!

  3. David Gervais on September 27, 2022 at 1:47 am

    Congratulations. From the photo, it seems to be a full sized dining table with a top much wider than the existing shelves. I assume there’s enough room. Then, the book shelves underneath will be recessed from the table edges above. I can easily imagine a couple of very nice chairs for when you are working there.

    So, now the next hunt is for those chairs. I know they will be a repurposed something unexpected.

  4. mlaiuppa on September 27, 2022 at 3:20 am

    That is amazing and perfect. At first I thought $500, wow, kinda pricey but then to find it is worth $4,000? FIND!!! And nothing beats local.

    Now, can shelves be floated inside the underneath part of the table so as not to mar the integrity of the table with screws, nails, bolts or anything else?

    If something is going to be built for under the table, have you considered having booked veneer attached to the side ends and finishing with shellac? To make it seem more in keeping with the table? Or even form the shelves like a cross so that all four ends are open, showing minimum wood. Veneer tape can cover the cut ends of the shelves. You could then use fancy bookends to hold the books on the sides. (I love bookends and have quite a few pairs of them to use on my shelves.)

    Love that book matched veneer on the top. I am a sucker for that. My headboard and footboard, dining table and chairs, coffee table and end tables and even a small table in my library. All early (pre-midcentury modern) pieces with that booked veneer.

  5. Sharon Brause on September 27, 2022 at 5:03 am

    So wonderful! So beautiful! So right! And the house sighs, “Ahhhhhhhhh!”

  6. Kate R on September 27, 2022 at 7:55 am


  7. Linda A. on September 27, 2022 at 10:57 am

    Oh thank goodness you just said what I have been thinking about that island for years!!!!!
    I was going to suggest trying to find an antique shop counter island thingy and adapting it for books but the dining table idea is much better than the current one.
    My brother bought a beautiful, used Henredon sofa when he was first out of college that lasted for YEARS.
    Great company, stellar products…. But, yes, usually pricey! Great find. Great idea.

  8. Cindy Belanger on September 27, 2022 at 6:54 pm

    Beautiful table, much better than the island. I think it’s a bargain for such a high quality table. I love the fireplace tiles. Judging from the tape, I assume these tiles have to be reglued? Future project?

  9. Laurie L Weber on September 27, 2022 at 7:24 pm

    I love it – it will look so wonderful! 🙂

  10. Karen Spencer on September 27, 2022 at 9:43 pm

    Truly gorgeous! G-d is in the details. And this table surely has details.

    Brilliant Ross!

    Bravo Kenny!

  11. JP on September 28, 2022 at 6:45 pm

    That is going to look SO pretty! It will complement your pendant lights and your mantle- and it’s a great idea. I would have never thought of retrofitting a table. It could even be a desk of sorts!

  12. Raúl Montilla on September 29, 2022 at 6:03 am

    Beautiful and interesting pseudo Louis XVI style dining table. I’m sure your idea will work very nicely.

  13. Kristine on September 29, 2022 at 9:12 am

    That table is beautiful! It’s always been a goal of mine to have a room big enough to use as an office/library with an old fashioned library table (instead of a desk) to spread out on —— papers, laptop, open books, etc. Check out photos of the NY Public Library Reading Room, Jefferson’s office/library at Monticello, Trinity College Reading Room, etc. A little jealous.

  14. CMYukon on September 29, 2022 at 11:56 am


    (Sorry, repeating myself… 😀 )

  15. Ken Ball on September 29, 2022 at 2:05 pm

    Henredon is incredible quality furniture. Sad, it doesn’t hold it value.

  16. Barb Sanford on October 4, 2022 at 9:30 pm

    Ooh, that table is sexy. It will look fabulous in that space!

  17. Sandra D Lee on October 8, 2022 at 10:55 am

    Is that mantle marble?? Barb is right— ooh very sexy table! Very fabulous!!

    Kenny is a marvel!

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