Table talk

Furniture showrooms tell much about where Americans spend most of their time. Compare the number of beds and sofas with dining sets and computer workstations.

My husband and I recently went shopping for a dining table and chairs. We combed through three floors, coming up with a total of three tables.

Were we missing something? The last time I picked out serious furniture, a decade ago, there were plenty of dining sets. Not today.

We concluded the family dinner hour must be in worse shape than we thought, if this store offered such a meager choice in dining accouterments. Are we the only people who don't eat dinner at the sink? What would Cheryl Mendelson think, since she devotes pages of her new housekeeping book (see interview, page 13) to table setting?

Too bad we weren't in the market for bedroom furniture. Beds in every shape and size sprawled throughout the showroom. Trundle and bunk beds for the littlest consumers had nautical or circus motifs. And an endless parade of sofas looked so plump and inviting that you might sit on one and not be seen again until the August clearance sale.

Americans' cocooning instinct remains strong. But Ms. Mendelson makes the point that cushy sofas are pointless if a home doesn't feel orderly and lived in. Showrooms and catalogs may offer a perfect vision of home life, but only the conscious, conscientious efforts of people under the same roof can make it a real home.

That and a nice dining table.

*Write the Homefront, One Norway Street, Boston, MA 02115 or e-mail us at home@csps.com

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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