One day, Brendan O'Connor will find his perfect coffee table. But Maybe not just yet...
You'd think a coffee table would be a straightforward enough thing, wouldn't you. You'd think it would be easy to find the right one. After all, there are millions of them out there. There are metal ones with sharp edges that I can't look at without thinking of a child's temple being impaled on them. There are glass ones that I can't look at without thinking of a child, or maybe me, smashing through them.
There are also lots of horrible ones. Me, I want a coffee table that blends in. I want one that just sits there taking up the space in the middle of the room, providing a focal point for the sofas. I want a nice solid one. Wood. Authentic. Organic. Real. Grounded. I want a coffee table that is rooted to the spot. My wife tells me it has to be round, because the room and everything else are square. I trust her in these matters. Also round means no sharp corners for head-denting, so it doesn't set my teeth on edge.
I have spent idle hours wading through websites that have literally thousands of coffee tables. You have no idea how many of them there are out there, presumably waiting in warehouses to be picked. "Pick me! Pick me!" I throw a look into Arnotts whenever I'm passing too. I've even gone out to the M50. I've also pretty much repeatedly begged a guy I know who makes furniture to make me one and he keep humouring me that, yes, we will do that, and we should talk about it, and then I never hear from him again.
Sometimes I forget about it for ages. I just accept things the way they are, and it's fine. But then, somehow, I get reminded again, maybe by seeing someone's tasteful house in LIFE magazine, and suddenly, like a toothache you were managing to ignore that becomes the only thing you can think about at three in the morning, it's back, and all I see when I look around the house, is the space where there should be a coffee table.
In one way I don't think I even want a coffee table. The couches are scattered around in a nice casual way and they are low to the ground, so the whole set up is actually good for interaction, and also you can just put your cup of tea or drink down next to you. Besides which, what's a coffee table going to do but gather crap? This is what invariably happens to all surfaces, isn't it?
But somehow, conventional me is insistent the glass box needs a coffee table to "bring it together" or something. I wanted a minimalist space, but now I want things to offset the minimalism, or to effectively cancel out the minimalism.
The minimalism dictates a certain coffee table too. The fact is that you can't put a soulless, minimalist coffee table in a soulless, minimalist space. Not in my book anyway. So the coffee table has to feel alive, to have some soul, some texture, an organic nature. But still be simple. It needs to be the closest thing you can get to a block of wood, without being an actual block of wood. I have found in my travels through coffee tables that you can actually pay a fortune for a block of wood pretending to be a coffee table. But I'd rather just get a block of wood thanks.
So I will be at House 2019, looking for some likely person to magic up the coffee table I need. And the truth is I won't find it, but I will enjoy searching. I think the truth is I will never find the coffee table I want, but the search will be a hobby for me as I get older, a search I will never want to end. Because I know that if I find the coffee table that could be the end for me. I may not have a reason to go on. Because it is who I am now. I am a person who is looking for a coffee table.