A skirted table can help balance a room

May 10, 1992|By Rita St. Clair | Rita St. Clair,Los Angeles Times Syndicate

Skirted tables are looked upon with contempt by many purists in the design field. They're quick to point out that frilly table treatments aren't featured in any of the serious books on the decorative arts. This disdainful attitude, I've found, extends to traditionalists as well as to avant-garde designers.

But so what? For those, like myself, who don't take interior decoration as seriously as brain surgery, skirted tables can be an enjoyable and even a tasteful addition to certain rooms.

They're especially useful in a setting filled with leggy furniture or with pieces so tightly scaled that they look as though they're airborne. Nothing is quite so effective as a skirted table in anchoring a seating group comprising spindly chairs. Such a treatment is also appropriate in a room that's overcrowded with furniture. A setting of that sort will be given needed softness by adding the texture, color and grace that gently folding fabric produces.

The camouflage capabilities of skirting should also not be scorned. If a beautifully designed table is not available for placement between a pair of occasional chairs, an ordinary piece of plywood can do the job as long as it's covered with something attractive. Please note, however, that this clever little trick will not succeed unless the plywood is properly proportioned.

In such a situation, assuming that a circular table is going to hold a lamp, its height needs to be greater than the diameter of its top. For example, a tabletop 20 inches in diameter should be at least 24 inches off the floor. If the dimensions are reversed, there's a danger that you'll wind up with a dumpy-looking table. The skirting itself must be chosen and designed with as much care as would be invested in a fine piece of clothing. The choice of fabric will determine the type of pleats or folds that result.

In addition, the trim, if any, has to be applied at the correct height from the floor. Because of all these considerations, it's a mistake to assume that just any piece of pretty fabric will be sufficient.

Although most skirted tables are small accent pieces, the same technique can be applied in the case of a desk or a large writing table.

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