Saturday, February 02, 2013

Dreams Do Come True, If You Make Them

My dream dining room table was delivered yesterday. Handcrafted by Jason Conway of Nook Design in Montreal, the 60" x 60" x 36", black walnut table is unique, gorgeous and functional.

The story

I have a difficult time finding furniture that I like and can spend years looking for the perfect piece. The case of my dining room table has been no different. I purchased my previous table in 1992 at The Salvation Army. It was a second hand 40" round steel patio table that I painted with a high gloss white paint. I bought plastic garden chairs to work with it. It worked quite well and I kept it for years as I looked for the perfect table.

In 2011, I purged a lot of stuff from my apartment. I knew that getting rid of what was taking space in my apartment would encourage me to move forward to acquire better pieces and improve my living space. Luckily, a community art center in St. Henri was more than happy to receive many items including the garden table and chairs.

I started looking more intensely for the real table, knowing that I might need to have it built.

Important sidenote

I'm an amateur jazz singer and play a little piano and although I would never accompany myself singing at a public performance I love accompanying myself in the comfort of my home. Some may like the idea of a real piano, but for me, a real piano is too heavy, needs to be tuned frequently and cannot be used with headphones. Digital keyboards are great for apartments. Especially if they can be always accessible when you want, but hidden when you don't! For the curious, my digital piano is a Roland FP-4F.  It has a great sound and weighted keys and is a pleasure to play.

Back to the story of the table

I wanted the table to be in the shape of a baby grand piano and ideally hold a digital keyboard. There are companies who make piano shells that house digital keyboards that are used on stage and I thought about buying one of those. The problem is that the skirt, at 14" like a real piano, is too long to comfortably sit with your knees under the skirt. I thought about possibly adapting one of the shells, but the shells were only available in the US and Australia and without knowing how or if they could be successfully adapted I didn't want to take that risk. I also found other possibilities, rectangular tables with hidden keyboards, a baby grand shaped table with no keyboard space (it had an iPod dock), but not one really fit what I had been thinking of: a clean, simple and functional design. I started to measure and sketch and research custom furniture makers in Montreal

Nook Design

With my spec document ready, I reached out to Jason Conway at Nook Design. I didn't know Jason or Nook, but previous work shown on his website matched closely to the design I was looking for. His workshop is only a few blocks away from my apartment. He agreed to research and scope out the project. It took a few interations to get the design down - the most difficult being the opening to where the keyboard is housed. We worked it out and ended up with a design that is even more easy to use and beautiful (seamless) than the first openings that were thought of. There is one hinged part that opens up 180. The front slides out and then can be placed flat on top or can slide in to work as a music rest. A shelf under the table was included to store the keyboard's power cable when not in use.

Jason selected black walnut as the wood and we agreed on a dark stain. The wood and stain is gorgeous, the color appears darker in low light, but as my apartment is flooded with natural light the lighter colors shine through in the daylight. The piano table is simply beautiful and functional and I love it. Working with Jason on this project has been a pleasure, he is knowledgeable, creative and dedicated to the project and its purpose and function.

Delivery and installation

I can't thank Jason enough for working on this project with me. I think he delivered a masterpiece to me, proving that dreams can come true if you make them!

A dream in 4 pieces, some assembly required:

The Piano Table Top
The Piano Table Skirt and Tray
Jason holding the back leg behind the Piano Table skirt
Assembling the back leg
Assembling the front legs

Piano Table, skirt/tray and legs assembled
The Piano Table assembled closed
The Piano Table Assembled, open
The Piano Table ready for celebration!

The big question

How does it sound? Well, considering I'm an amateur piano player, it certainly sounds better than I play! Seriously it sounds fine. The back of the piano shelf is open - the speakers on the keyboard are its back - there is no apparent muffling. There is a slight difference, not better, not worse, just different and certainly not bothersome.  The Roland's great sound shines through.

Next steps

My apartment still needs much attention, there are things to renovate, repair and decorate.  For the area around the piano, I have drawings to frame for the empty wall behind the table. I'll need to get additional stools - I use these white ones at the kitchen counter - they're extremely comfortable. I'll see how they work with the table before purchasing more. The table should comfortably seat 8, possibly 10 squeezed in. For today, I just want to celebrate the arrival of this beautiful work of art.


My sister says I'm a dreamer, and I don't think that's a bad thing, I don't think she thinks it's a bad thing either. You've gotta have dreams. They should be yours, not someone else's. You shouldn't be worried what other people think of your dreams. Dream them, and do your best to make some of them come true.

Lyrics from one of the first songs I remember from my childhood (I think I was 5 or 6).
Happy talk, keep talking happy talk,
Talk about things you'd like to do,
You gotta have a dream, if you don't have a dream,
How you gonna have a dream come true?
- Happy Talk, from the 1949 Rodgers and Hammerstein musical South Pacific.

A few more photos

The Piano Table Project Team: Jason Conway (Nook Design), Teresa Lang

The Piano Table, view from Middle C on a Winter's Morning