There are several pieces of modern furniture that I would love to have. One of them was a Tulip Table but never thought my chances of finding one I could afford would ever happen. But I am sharing today that we have actually found and purchased a vintage 1965 Burke Tulip Table.
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Did you watch the Brady Bunch Show as a kid? Do you know what is some of the most talked about things for that show are? The modern architecture of that house and probably that red and green kitchen! Sitting in that unique kitchen was a Burke Tulip Table and Chairs – and Alice was always there of course.
I bet you are singing the show tune in your head about now.
“This is a story, about a lovey lady….”
I love architectural history so indulge me for a moment while I give you the history of this table. The original Tulip Table was designed by Eero Saarinen for Knoll Industries in 1956. Saarinen wanted to remove the visual clutter of chair legs underneath the table so created the pedestal based Tulip Table and Chairs. You can still buy these pieces from Design Within Reach and they are still made today by Knoll Furniture. Depending on what kind of top you choose, the Saarinen Tulip Table starts at around $2500.
And then Maurice Burke changed the design.
In the 1960’s a Scottish designer named Maurice Burke adapted the original design of the chairs and created a four sided star shaped base for his Tulip Chair and his version is what was actually featured on the Brady Bunch Show.
The Brady Bunch Show was not the only show in the 1970’s that featured Burke furniture. Star Trek also had the same exact chairs!
I have wanted a Tulip Table for 15 years or more but the price tag is way out of my budget, especially the original Saarinen version. That is until this past January when a local mid century thrift store in Knoxville, called Mid Mod Collective, featured a Burke table on their Facebook page. I still figured it was way out of my budget but I didn’t forget about it. Then we got our income tax refund this year and I immediately remembered this table – honestly I never forgot they had it at all.
Each year my husband and I plan a special purchase for ourselves if we get a refund on our taxes. This year he got a new heavy duty powerful chain saw which has been put to good use cutting down about 17 small trees in our wooded lot this week. As for me, I took him to the mid century thrift store to see the table in hope that we could afford it.
I just love vintage and mid century modern furniture and finding ways to reuse older furniture pieces!
The table was actually on commission to the store and since it had a few scratches on the metal base and around the edges of the top, and was missing the felt piece on the bottom of the metal base we got it for only $375. A vintage tulip table can cost up to $1200 or more at thrift stores online.
I can’t even begin to tell you how giddy I am to finally have a Tulip Table in my house. In a total nerdy and geeky way! But this is NOT what this post is about. I would be just as thrilled to have this table in my home even if it is a knockoff of an original. This post is really about how we took a slightly damaged vintage table and repaired it to be useful once again.
That is the real story of this post.
We opted not to purchase the original Saarinen molded chairs featured with the table in the shop but instead purchased similar chairs online through Wayfair. We purchased four Harrison chairs by Langley Street in four different colors that match the chair button colors and other accessories in our Updated Modern Industrial Family Room that is adjacent to the kitchen.
Vintage and new modern furniture pieces blend together very well.
The table was very wobbly without the felt piece underneath the base and we couldn’t use the table when we first brought it home because the table was that unsteady on our tile floors. But I came up with a easy and inexpensive fix for that problem. It only cost me $14.99 for a roll of cork at Hobby Lobby and the problem was solved. Honestly, I don’t know of any pedestal style table that doesn’t wobble a bit but we couldn’t really use the table it was so bad.
Let me apologize for the lack of photos during the repair process. I didn’t plan to post about our new table until after our kitchen cabinet updates this summer so I repaired the table one afternoon and was so focused on the end result I realized I didn’t take the photos like I should have. Post vacation kind of mindset I guess.
First, I cut a section of cork off the roll and put it underneath the base of the Tulip Table. Using a sharp pencil, I traced the outline of the circle base.
I tried to fix the table with just one piece of cork but it kept collapsing inside the base of the table because not only is the metal base hollow but the edges have a slight curve to them and the piece of cork would slide up into the base instead. At this point I figured that the cork needed to be thicker. So on to plan B…
Two layers of cork worked perfectly.
I then cut two circles from the cork, one slightly smaller than the other. One piece needed to be attached to fit within the curve of the base and cover up the hollow core while the other one needed to be attached over that and all the way to the edges.
To attach the cork to the base I used a combination of tacky glue and spray adhesive. These types of glue gave me time to move and readjust the cork circles before drying. I also ended up attaching the inner layer of cork with the table upside down to make sure the circle fit within the curved edge.
Now my new to me vintage Burke tulip table doesn’t wobble anymore and we can enjoy breakfast in the kitchen again – that is if I keep the surface cleaned off long enough.
” The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.” Psalm 14:1
Melissa Tatro says
Thanks for the tips on repairing the missing felt bottom. I picked up my white laminate top Burke table at Value Village 7 years ago for $9.99 (plus a 20% off coupon). Been one of my favorite pieces ever since!
Wow – that was a great deal. Thanks for visiting and enjoy your table.