I’d like to talk about how much space is needed in the kitchen or dining room for comfortable seating along with some words about style and design choices. At the Amish Oak Furniture and Mattress Co. we can build tables to the exact size you need, from small solid top (no leaves) tables, to tables that extend to twenty feet with leaves! Here are some things to consider when shopping for a new dining room set:
Table Size: The room your table will be in will of course dictate the maximum size you can allow. Normally we recommend you choose a size that’s best for every day, along with leaves to add to extend your table for additional seating when company arrives. The rule of thumb for minimum amount of space needed per person is 24”. A little extra is better, with 26” being ideal, allowing for some ‘elbow room’. So a table 42 x 60” long would be very comfortable seating for six, with two on each side and one on each end of the table. For more seating, we can build with leaves which typically add 12” per leaf. Many of our table styles are built with self-storing leaves, which our customers love because the leaves are stored right within the table!
Clearance to Wall: Allow at least 36” from the edge of the table to the wall, or other furniture, such as a sideboard or hutch. 48” is ideal.
Chairs with or without Arms?: Twenty years or more ago, most families would always include two ‘arm’ or ‘captain’s’ chairs with their table and chair order. It was just the traditional way to order chairs, with an arm chair at each end of the table. Over the years that trend has changed, with the majority of folks ordering all ‘side’, or armless chairs. Almost all of our chair styles are available with or without arms (and also as bar chairs). One reason to still consider a couple of arm chairs is if there is a member of the family that due to knee or hip problems, needs help getting out of a chair. That said, also consider the space you have in your room. Arm chairs need a little extra space to push far enough away from the table to get up and away.
Dining Furniture Styles: We offer a wide variety of styles, with many Transitional styles, but also Contemporary, Mission, Shaker, Colonial, Traditional, Live Edge and even Queen Ann styles. We’ve recently added barn floor, rough sawn, and hand planed treatments to our table tops which provide a rustic look and feel. Style choice depends on your personal preference along with the style and design of your home. Although some like contrasting styles, most want a style that will complement their home. Most folks with a historic colonial home are going to want colonial style furniture as well.
Wood and Color Choices: The trend over the last several years has been away from the old ‘honey colored oak’ to other wood species such as maple, cherry, walnut and elm, often in darker colors and grey tones. Two-toned furniture is also very popular, often with a dark, onyx colored base with contrasting top. All of our furniture also include a top coat of catalyzed finish, which repels water, alcohol and other spills. This is the same protective finish used in all high end kitchen and bath cabinets.
Selection: We have a very wide selection of pieces to choose from for your kitchen and dining needs. From our rustic whiskey barrel tables with bar stools and our whiskey barrel serving bars, our wine cabinets, sideboards, hutches and buffets, to our custom built island cabinets, bar chairs and swivel stools, you’ll find the piece and style right for your home.
Owner of Amish Oak Furniture & Mattress Co.
As we get ready for our 36th anniversary sale next week, I began reflecting on my experiences with the Amish over the years. I’ve developed close relationships with many of our builders over the years and have watched their families grow, their children grow up and seen some of the challenges they face surrounded by the ‘modern’ world.
As business people needing to keep their businesses competitive, it’s a challenge for them in determining which modern ‘amenities’ can be used, and how they can be used, without detriment to their beliefs and culture.
When I began our business in 1982, if a phone was accessible, it was typically a ‘community’ phone located in a small shed at the end of someone’s lane. Only important and emergency calls were made, and a notebook sat by the phone so callers could jot down the calls they made so they could pay for their portion of the community ‘phone bill’.
Over the years, many of the Amish churches began to allow businesses more access to phones, with some businesses adding answering machines and more recently in some cases, the use of cell phones; all with the understanding that phone use was to be for business purposes. One unique and resourceful business that started several years ago, to improve communication with Amish businesses was a fax service business. We call it the “generic fax service” because most of our builders subscribe to it. If we need to communicate quickly regarding the status of an order or an order change, for example, we can send a message to a particular builder via the generic fax service. The fax service then hand delivers the fax to that builder within 24 hours and receives a small fee for each fax delivered along the route. Our builder can then reply to us via the same fax service.
The use of motorized vehicles has also increased over the years, with every Amish family and Amish business having a short list of ‘drivers’ to call when they need transportation for medical reasons, shopping or a special outing. And as with all ‘modern amenities’, each church determines the rules for their use or acceptance. Most of the Amish churches permit occasional use of a driver and his or her vehicle for everything from trips to the grocery store, to taking a vacation trip. On the other hand, the Old Order Amish limit vehicle transportation to medical emergencies. Otherwise, horse and buggy are used.
I’ll never forget a time back in the 1980’s when I stopped at one of our Old Order Amish shops to check on the status of some roll top desks that were overdue. My Amish friend said there was a hold up at the panel shop and he was waiting for word they were ready. I suggested he hop in my truck so we could drive the few miles to the panel shop. He said that the ‘rules’ prohibited him to ride in a vehicle, but if I didn’t mind, we could take his horse and buggy to visit the panel shop. It was a ride I really enjoyed, and got me to reflect on how the Amish way of life led you to slow down, visit with one another and take time to enjoy the journey. It seems we “English” are always in a hurry, and sometimes forget the importance of relationships, and of taking time to appreciate our surroundings, and the beauty around us.
Another time, with another Amish friend and furniture builder, I stopped one summer day to pick up a load of chairs that were finished, and as I was about to leave, Sam asked if I liked watermelon. A few minutes later we were sitting on the grass in the shade beside his garden, each of us with a half a watermelon in our laps. Again, I was impressed by the importance of taking time to visit and to enjoy the simple pleasures.
Even as the challenges of staying apart from the modern world increase, the Amish continue to adhere to their strong sense of community, the importance of family and friends, and their deep religious beliefs.
Owner of Amish Oak Furniture & Mattress Co.
When you purchase our Amish-built furniture, you’re not only supporting a local, Ohio small business; you’re also supporting the small family-owned and operated shops that build our furniture. For over thirty-five years we’ve partnered with dozens of Amish family woodworking shops to make Amish-crafted furniture available to the retail public. Today, many of the shops we work with are now run by the grown up children of the furniture builders we originally partnered with! It’s been great watching them grow up and in many cases take over the ‘family business’.
It has always amazed me how well the Amish are able to manage and grow their small businesses with just an eight grade education. Far from ‘uneducated’, the Amish are adept at learning all they need to know to successfully run their small shops. In addition to woodworking, they become knowledgeable about mechanical systems (to run their tools), bookkeeping, logistics and customer service.
And as our local Amish population grows, farm land has become so scarce and expensive that the majority of young Amish men are now pursuing other forms of livelihood, such as masons, home builders, roofers, buggy builders, saw mills and small engine shops. Once married, many want to operate a small business that can include their families, which makes woodworking ideal.
So when you’re ready to make your next furniture purchase, we hope you’ll avoid mass produced, imported furniture, and choose furniture made not only in the USA, but furniture made right here in Ohio.
-Chris Tuttle, owner, Amish Oak Furniture Co.