How a Designer Crafts a Custom Table

How a Designer Crafts a Custom Table

How a Designer Crafts a Custom Table


Designer Tina Rich takes us behind-the-scenes of how she created a custom table for her apartment—and how to make sure dining table always looks as good.

Photos by Christian Torres.

You can forgive Tina Rich for being particular. The Homepolish designer is known for her thoughtful spaces—filled with geometric riffs on the regular, natural textures, and splashes of color—and for her signature line of textiles and ceramics.

So when it came time for a new dining table, Tina wasn’t about to settle for something off-the-rack. Instead she worked with her trusty pals at Boles Studio to great a totally Tina table for her space. We asked her about how the process worked and the inspiration behind her individual piece (and style). To highlight her stunning creation, she showed us how she styles it for day-to-day—and for a bright and relaxed brunch.

Why did you decide to create your own table instead of opting for something pre-made?
I often find that I can’t find the exact pieces that I envision for a space. I love designing furniture and creating one of a kind pieces that my clients (or myself) really love. I wanted something simple but beautiful that would match the color of my dining chairs and a create a tone-on- tone set up.  

How does the custom process work? Can you walk us through the step-by-step?
I always start by pulling inspiration images of furniture pieces (often vintage), finishes, and even spaces I love, and then start sketching what I’d like a piece to look like. Then, I mock-it up in the space with the other pieces I plan to use, in this case, my giant mirror, Hoffman Chairs, and Dot Line Suspension Light.

I then do the millwork drawings to specify the shape, finish, and dimensions, which I send to my go-to millworkers, Boles Studio. We chat about how best to execute the design, what materials to use to achieve the look I’m going for, and they provide me with finish samples to choose from.  Fabrication usually takes 6-8 weeks—and I try my best to wait patiently!

In progress shot of Tina’s custom table

The shape is really interesting. Why did you choose it, and why these materials?
I knew I wanted something a bit more organic than a rectangular table but didn’t want to go full oval or pill-shaped (although, I do love a pill shape!) so I slightly rounded the edges. I think it gives it a bit of a retro feel, which I love.  

I chose an oak because I wanted a beautiful grain and a creamy color. We used a slight white wash to lighten the color. I wanted the chairs and table to read as the same, creamy, oak color—not too light, not too grey, and definitely not too yellow. The guys delivered it the first time and the color was just not working. I’m ashamed to admit but I had them take it back and re-finish it/ I don’t mess around when it comes to wood finish, it has to be perfect! 

Designing a custom piece involves a lot of minutiae. Walk us through some of the details.
For the height of the table, I stuck with standard dining table height of 30.” The linear light I chose is 72” inches and I knew I needed the table to be longer or else the pendant would feel too large, so I went with 84”, which is really the largest that could comfortably fit in the space. One detail that was the toughest to determine was the diameter of the base! Too small and the table wouldn’t be stable, too large and it would impede into leg room. We did 14”, which was the perfect balance and weighted the pedestals to ensure it was really stable!

People tend to be afraid of custom furniture. What would you tell people who were considering creating a bespoke piece?
I think it really helps to have a designer and a great millworker on-board to guide you through the process. There are a lot of hiccups that can happen along the way. For example: Did you check your elevator dimensions before you custom fabricated an 8’ dining table? Do you know which woods are suitable for certain applications? It definitely takes more effort and the lead time can be a bummer but it’s sooo worth it to have a one-of-a-kind piece that you truly love and created yourself!  

One reservation is, of course, price. Is custom always more expensive? What are the advantages besides having something that’s singularly yours?
Yes, custom can be more expensive than your big box retailers—but it’s also much better quality and materials. As a designer, I usually have a pretty clear vision for a space and nothing is more frustrating than not being able to find the pieces that you envisioned. I love that you can specify the exact finish and size so it works perfectly in your space.  

To get back to dining tables, let’s talk about styling. A lot of people seem stumped about what to put on their table when not in use. What do you recommend?
I suggest keeping it simple with a couple of ceramic vases that you can throw fresh flowers in.  I’m a ceramics hoarder so I love to style my table with a couple of great pieces that I can swap out when the mood strikes. Scale is important. You don’t want something to big or too small!  

You set up a lovely brunch here. What was the vibe you had in mind? Why did you decide to go with this color palette and pieces?
I love to keep my tablescapes relaxed and casual, which is exactly how I like my brunches! I’m Greek so I love having people passing food, shouting across the table, and eating a ton! For this tablescape, I kept it natural and neutral with only a pop of burnt orange from the flowers. I used handmade plates that I designed in collaboration with Cromwell Ceramics (available on my website). I cut the napkins from some extra linen fabric I had and chose black silverware. I love using long stemmed Amaryllis flowers as a soft centerpiece.  

Any advice for those looking to set a perfectly stylish table?
I think the way you style your table sets the tone for your event. If it’s relaxed and casual, that’s how your event will be. If you have name tags and linens that look like they shouldn’t be used, you’re in for a stuffy affair. But you do you!

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