The Evolution Of The Trestle Table Design

Trestle Table and 4 Wicker Chairs from Pottery Barn


A trestle table is a piece of furniture easily distinguished by design of the supporting legs. Some of the more traditional images of a dining table are supported by four legs around the four corners or underneath the center of the table surface. With this type of table, the slab is supported by two or three trestles or posts supported laterally by stretchers. What made the design distinct was the use of pegs or joinery

The Origins of the Trestle Table

Some of the earliest designs of dining tables used trestles. The use of a trestle table was most common during the Middle Ages. Its simple design allowed inhabitants to set up tables for dining or a place for conversing quickly. The same dining room sets can then be taken down and stored away to allow other activities to be performed in the same space. Tables are commonly constructed out of wood such as oak and walnut or stone.

The Refectory Table and the Trestle Table

One type of table commonly confused with the trestle table is the refectory table. Both types of tables were common during the Middle Ages. Much like the name implies, the refectory table was utilized in refectories or churches. A simple slab of wood was placed on top of trestles. What made the refectory table different from a French trestle table could be found in the table’s supports. The trestles of a refectory table looked smaller yet bulkier and connected by heavier stretchers. These were also more intricately designed compared to trestle tables.

The Trestle Table Exits and Returns to Popularity

Although the collapsible and simple design once made the trestle table popular during its time, the same reasons turned it out of favor quickly. A walnut or oak trestle table surface was often left simple and bare. Over time, more homeowners were looking for more aesthetically pleasing table surfaces, carved with intricate desiagns. It is only during the more recent years that the table has made a comeback, appearing in a wide range of styles from traditional to modern homes.

Choosing an antique trestle table can add elegance to a home but these pieces of dining furniture are no longer limited to traditional periodic homes. Newer designs of trestles and use of alternative materials have allowed trestle tables to make their presence in more contemporary homes. There are tables made with glass tabletops still supported with simple trestles. When choosing these, one must make sure the dining table and chairs match well.  For instance, wood dining room chairs can go well with a glass dining room table, but the colors of the dining chairs must complement the glass. Much like a traditional trestle table, these modern wood furniture as well as glass and metal designs are still collapsible, and allow homeowners to store their tables away to free more space in the room for other activities.

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