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Sherry Talks Coffee Tables

“I want to keep a human mouth on my coffee table. It’ll be a great conversation starter.”  ? Jarod Kintz, I Want

Always a popular resource for local newspapers and magazines, Sherry is often approached for ideas for editorials and beautiful pictures for their articles.  We love to support our local publications and are always happy to help them develop fun and informative articles.

Recently Sherry was approached by a writer for Park Cities People for a piece in their Homes & Design section.  The writer, Caitlin Adams, wanted to do a fun piece on how a designer might perk up a coffee table.

So after some brainstorming we sent her lots of examples from our projects along with a few ideas for her story…

There is a lovely living room that is part of a chic highrise condominium in Dallas. Designed for a young couple, this sleek, contemporary space meets their request for an open space for entertaining, with a serene color palette, and fabrics resilient enough to hold up to their pets. A Lucite cocktail table multiplies the gleam of the polished surfaces and the pale blue Venetian plaster on the walls.  In keeping with the sleek, modern aesthetic of the home, the items on the coffee table are deliberately edited.  An acrylic sculpture by artist Joan Winter has pride of place and is paired with oversized books on contemporary art as well as a faceted bowl filled with a custom mineral potpourri created exclusively for the homeowners by Sherry.

Then there is a library designed for a pied á terre in Caruth Homplace.  It is a warm, comfortable room with paneled walls finished with a rich pickled finish. Seating is comfortable and ideal for curling up with a book or watching a movie. The coffee table is also soft: a leather ottoman topped with a simple dark wood tray and sculptural objet.  For a casual space like this, accessories were kept to a minimum as the design concept was for a room in which people would be expected to prop their feet up.

Another Hayslip Design Associates project featured in the article is a modern home in Fort Worth.  This coffee table has a simple monolithic quality that is highlighted with the use of simple, leggy calla lilies in a clear glass vessel alongside a simple stack of books and a small Miro-esque sculpture.  Very chic.

The coffee table is an interesting piece of furniture.  It has no historical predecessors, nothing dictates its shape or size, and yet nearly every home has one or more low table placed near a seating group.  

Accessories displayed on its surface should be significant to the home or homeowners.  For example, a home we designed in Whitefish, Montana utilized a rugged iron table topped with a thick glass slab with a chiseled edge.  The accessories reflect the rustic setting: wildflowers in a stone vessel, a collection of pillar candles in warm tones, and a tiny bronze moose, to echo the fauna of the surrounding country.

In a Beaver Creek condominium we got creative… Sherry went to the local fire wood supplier and selected five logs of various dimensions, cutting them down to the same height, and topped these legs with a simple glass rectangle.  We all thought it was very clever and really inexpensive.  Unfortunately our client called a few months later and said “Sherry, you know that great coffee table… well, it’s now walking across our living room.”  It appeared that some larvae in the wood, dormant when we initially installed the table, hatched and were making a minor nuisance of themselves.  Nothing a visit from the local exterminator couldn’t fix.

I love to design special coffee tables that convey the design intent of a space better than any piece from a showroom can.  My husband Cole and I have collaborated on several designs.  

Sometimes the volumes spoken in accessories are actually whispered secrets. Designed by Cole and myself, a fabricated for us by Whitesmith & Company, this shaped, glass topped table has gilded details.  The table base was completely hand forged, reminiscent of 15th Century iron work, including forged bronze repoussé leaves using.  To craft the central globe, multiple layers of wood were laminated to form a perfect sphere, both inside and out.  And here’s the secret… the sphere, by artist Michael Stallings, is gilded in 23 ¾ karat gold and etched with constellations associated with the zodiacal signs of the home owners and hidden within the hollow sphere are scrolls of each family member’s astrological chart.  

This eclectic Great Room is all about the art, and I’m not just talking about the Picasso over the fireplace… I’m talking about the coffee table.  Another collaborative effort between Cole and me (and fabricated by the artisans at Whitesmith & Company) this table’s award winning design includes twining acanthus leaves, ribbons of subtly gilded bronze, and hand–hammered and patinated flowers.  The glass top follows the same scrolling lines of the table base.  The accessories are a riot of color… brilliantly hued glass spheres mounded in a low bowl and a striking arrangement of tropical blooms that provide both color and striking form.

Think of your coffee table-scape like this… each table top is a still life composed of objects of significance.  These objects can be as autobiographical as the titles in your bookshelf which always reveal something about you.   

What are your passions? 

Do you collect?  Display a small portion of your collection for all to see (corralled within the confines of a beautiful tray, if necessary).

Do you have a green thumb?  How about a bouquet of roses from your garden or a collection of succulent specimens in a Wardian case?

Avid reader?  Books are always welcome on a coffee table.

But whatever you do… USE A COASTER!

And if you’d like to read Sherry’s article in the Park Cities People online magazine, click on the image for a reader-friendly version (it's on page 12).

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