Did you like geometry in high school? Algebra was OK and I hated its big brother calculus, but I sure did love geometry. Cue one of my favorite shapes – the octagon. Symmetrical like a square, but with none of its hard-edged pointy-ness, fluid like a circle, but with more structure, it is a dynamic shape for a square dining room. The Coliseum table by T.H. Robsjohn-Gibbings for Widdicomb has long been one of my favorite pieces of vintage furniture out there. Robsjohn-Gibbings was one of the foremost mid-century designers and taste makers whose influence is still felt today – klismos chairs anyone? Sightings of this table are rare and it is best known in the blogosphere from Dara Caponigro’s dining room featured in Domino: The Book of Decorating. (It seems very apropos to type that today as the relaunch of Domino Magazine was announced yesterday!)

Dana Caponigro Robsjohn Gibbings table

Another geometric love – the arch! Gracious and welcoming, that half circle is reminiscent of everything I love about ancient architecture. Basically I chose the house here because I loved its arched pass throughs and windows. How ideal would the table be for this space!

Its combination of looks and functionality is ideal. The modern but classic lines make it work in every kind of decor. It seats 4 without being awkward and can seat 8 without even adding a table leaf. But it does have them, allowing for expansion to seat at least 12. Thanksgiving anyone?

th robsjohn octagonal table

It is rare and hard to find, being from Robsjohn-Gibbings’ final Widdicomb collection, and extremely expensive when you do find it. This one below is available on 1stdibs for $18,000. Which brings up the question how would I ever get one? And here to boot? Well, I have heard from numerous sources here that there are some craftsmen here in Doha that make furniture for very reasonable prices. Perhaps this is an opportunity to make my dream table?

TH Robsjohn-Gibbings Coliseum table for Widdicomb via 1st dibs

Other sources of inspirations confirm my love of these motifs. When I was in England this summer I drooled over this E.W. Godwin Japanese inspired ebonized table at the Victoria & Albert Museum. It’s a circle, but it has those lovely arches in the base.

Ebonized Godwin table V & A

It reminded me of the other octagonal table I’ve had saved in my inspiration folder  – this very precise and also Asian influenced one by Ralph Rucci. Love the brass feet on both tables!


I’m not the only one to love this look. Jenny at LGN created her own version of the Robsjohn-Gibbings table by pushing together two unusually shaped demilunes.

Jenny from LGN

And in another crazy fabulous room from Susan Hable Smith (remember her living room here) she combines an antique table with both a marble top and arches in the base with vivid colors and patterns.

Susan Hable Smith DR ED 0513 pc Richard Powers table base

In all three of these last posts I have been neglecting the entire conversation around what chairs as the table, while difficult, seems like the easy part in comparison. My fantasy chairs are painted white-ish, a bit classical, a bit Scandinavian,


…a bit Hollywood Regency with a bold colored seat…

Screen shot 2013-05-29 at 11.15.59 AM

…perhaps even a bit 1930s Francis Elkins. These are sold on 1stdibs but could have been perfect, upholstery color and all.

Francis Elkins style chairs

I’d even be happy with simple oval backed Louis chairs like Dana’s in the top photo. Or maybe the perfect chair would be a klismos? The exact version all depends on the table choice.

So I’d love to hear from all of you. Of the three choices, which do you like best? Why? Should I combine elements of different schemes or have you got other suggestions? The truth is there is much timing, practicality and possibly some impossibility at play here that will require compromise, but let’s see where I can go with this.

Related Posts:
Dining Room Option One…Inspiration from Isabel Lopez-Quesada
Dining Room Option Two…Inspiration from Angie Hranowsky