Feng Shui & the Tabouret (or Tabourette)

This tabouret is in our living room. The lower shelf holds books and we always keep the top shelf clear so it’s available to set a beverage on.

I’d never seen or heard that word before—‘til I was browsing in an old 1923 Sears catalogue. There on page 609 was an etching of a small (17 inches high and less than a foot across the top) oak table. It was part of a seven-piece craftsman set of living room furniture, and its only description was that it was “a convenient article” and that it was a little over 11 inches wide. They’re convenient all right—we have two and they’re both in daily use. A tabouret is also (almost always) feng-shui friendly because the tops usually have eight sides—so no poison arrows. (Any angle larger than ninety degrees does not make a poison arrow.)

Not long ago I wrote about vintage furniture being excellent for not causing poison arrows. Well, that’s the tabouret and sometimes it’s not vintage—it’s often (becoming more often every year) an actual antique (over 100 years old).  But they’re frequently sold at yard sale prices—because sometimes even antique dealers don’t recognize them. We paid between five and ten dollars for ours. In the late 1800s, Moorish decor was in vogue in Europe and America and a tabouret is similar to a small inlaid Moorish table. (A tabouret is usually simpler). They make great plant stands and occasional tables, and since there’s almost always a lower shelf—they can even make a cute little bookcase.

The tabouret lives next to our lanai dining table (our only dining table) and it usually holds fresh produce. Here it is with our own mamey fruit. (Mamey tastes like sweet potato pie.) The upper pottery is vintage Catalina, and the lower one is modern from Berkeley.

I bought this humble tabouret at Discovery Antiques in Kealakekua a few years ago for $5 or $10. It was probably made between 1910 and 1930, and it could have been someone’s furniture-making project.

Carlo Bugatti, the great Italian designer, created a Moorish-looking set of furniture, including a tabouret that was anything but simple. It looked like it had died and gone to heaven! (To see examples of the set of furniture, search Google Images for “Bugatti furniture art nouveau.” But I think the only time I ever saw a photo of his tabouret was on an eBay auction.)

If you have a spare $14,500 lying around, you could buy this beautiful Bugatti tabouret from this online auctioneer. It’s a good thing I’m not rich, because I would totally do it. Photo: 1stdibs

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