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Sometimes second best is...well, best.

For the past several months I've been on the search for the Holy Grail of kitchen tables. My requirements: Because of the length of the back benches, I needed an oval table rather than a round one with a length between 70" and 80" and a width of no greater than 48" (to keep the pathway to the back door clear). I also had to have a pedestal table to accommodate the corner seat. And of course, I wanted it to look good and be reasonably priced (I'd all but exhausted my budget for this space on the bench!). Pretty tall order, isn't it?

Of course what I fell in love with was no where near my budgeted allocation for a kitchen table. A classic Saarinen oval dining table, even in the more affordable white laminate (and of course I prefer the Carrera marble!), is still a budget-busting $4000. And while I'm a believer in paying for quality pieces that will last a lifetime, I just couldn't justify the price given all the other items we still need to buy for the home. Of course, there are a number of affordable Saarinen-lookalikes on the market today (CB2 and IKEA both have great versions), but unfortunately none of those are a larger, oval table. In fact, both CB2 and IKEA's versions are petite 40" rounds -- laughably small in this space.

There are those who argue that it's better to live with an empty room than to buy second-best, but I have a feeling those are the same folks who don't have to actually live in those empty rooms -- or have a host of people descending upon them for Thanksgiving. After three months of treating our great room and adjoining breakfast area as a pass-through space, I was completely fed up with rattling around an empty house.

And so Dave and I decided to go ahead and buy an inexpensive dining set and so we headed over to Rooms-to-Go and picked up this pedestal table and chair set. And of course, one of the greatest benefits of buying from a Big Box Store is that we were able to get our dining set mere days later. Someday perhaps I'll be able to afford that gorgeous tulip table (and wouldn't it be divine in there?), but for now we have a place to eat our cereal and drink our coffee. And I don't think it looks too bad, especially since we got the table and the chairs for less than 1/4 of the price of my beloved tulip table. And yes, I recovered the chairs with the same fabric I used for the banquette.

A shot of the chair before reupholstering, in all its standard beige microfibered glory. Bleh. It's amazing what some fabric and a staple gun can do, isn't it? Certainly makes the chair look more custom.

Oh and as you can see from the arrangement on the table, I went with everyone's advice and removed one of the three topiaries from the fireplace mantle. The move from the fireplace to the kitchen table does two great things simultaneously: the new mantle arrangement highlights the mirror and by repeating the topiary motif on the kitchen table, I'm tying the two spaces together (the fireplace is directly across from the breakfast nook and clearly visible from it). So many thanks for the sound advice, everyone!

With the countdown to Thanksgiving officially underway, this weekend I hope to accomplish a bit more around the house. We'll be changing out some more light fixtures, hanging a few more pictures, and even doing a bit of landscaping. Is anyone else similarly undertaking some home improvement projects in anticipation of the holidays?

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