Circa 1970s, a new take on the coffee table was introduced to the North American family room. Many were lovingly created by do-it-your-selfers determined to recycle the remains of trees cut down in the service of improving a view or those that had succumbed to the ravages of Dutch Elm Disease or other things trees are likely to catch. If you didn’t own a wood chipper, what else would you do?
Burl coffee tables are distinguished by their high gloss finish making them impervious to coffee rings, cigarette burns and other domestic lapses like spilling nail polish. Polyurethane at its peak. If a coffee table was not enough to satisfy one’s thirst for shiny handcrafted furniture, many turned their attention to wall mounted clocks affixed with brass letter and hands.
In our business, we run across these artefacts on a fairly regular basis. Sometimes they are relegated to the basement or the “man cave”. A man cave is where relics like faded rugby team photos, neon beer signs. pin-ups of Farah Fawcett and vintage lacrosse sticks are banished by wives hell-bent on re-decorating the family room to create a look that would earn a seal of approval from the designer networks. These women have zero tolerance for hanging the New Age memorabilia from forty years ago. Even if these burl coffee tables were inherited, there is little or no justification for continuing to populate a home.
Getting rid of burl can be a touchy undertaking. Not only is there the issue of the work that went into them, but they have an ultra-high rating on the nostalgia scale. For baby-boomer men, they represent the best of the carefree years before children, characterized by unrepentant partying, driving a sports car and a having thirty inch waist. Therefore, disposal requires cunning and guile. You might actually have to resort to a trade-off, if the table is a bone of contention. For example, you could offer to subscribe to the golf channel in your cable package or accompany him on a motorcycle rally, if he consents to passing the burl table on to the local thrift store. Or, you could make the supreme sacrifice by postponing your eyelift for another year.