living & dining rooms, part 7: dining room table desks

08.08 multipurpose masterpiece

click to see the full photo gallerySince we don't have a separate office, our dining room has to function as both an office and a formal dining area when we entertain. Which is why we decided early on not to invest in a big expensive dining room table.  But desks were out, too. So what to do?

The perfect solution turned out to be a couple of INGO tables from IKEA. We painted them black when we first got them and butted up against each other to become face-to-face desks. With a tablecloth over them, they become a nice-sized dining table that seats six. The black paint was supposed to be temporary -- we'd always intended to do some kind of collage on the tops -- but life got in the way and next thing we knew, it was six years later and the black paint had chipped off the tops in places.

We got all arty over Labor Day weekend and collaged our little hearts out. We've been collecting things for our respective collages over the years -- parts of maps, pages from old books, cutouts from newspapers, luggage labels...all kinds of things. We spent a lot of time laying out our respective designs, figuring out what we wanted to show and making sure all the spaces were covered. Although if you've ever collaged such a large area like that, you know that it never ends up exactly the way you laid out. Then we added more details and layers, and little notes and embellishments. (Surprisingly, however, a few of our embellishments done with stamps bled, smudged, faded, or changed color. It seemed to have a lot to do with the paper and particular ink color, but of course once we'd started mod podging everything, there wasn't anything to be done about it. Oh well. Those are the kinds of things you chalk up to "character" and try not to get too hung up on.) It took two days -- including staying up until 4 a.m. -- and a big bottle and a half of mod podge, but we sure had a lot of fun doing them together.

They're supposed to say something about who we are, the things we enjoy, what we're passionate about, our dreams and values, stuff like that. There are all kinds of little hidden details, like Where's Waldo? for grownups. Next time you visit, spend about 30 minutes to see if you can find them all...

click to see full photo gallery