Saarinen tulip table: a modern piece for ANY style of decor

Design basics: Saarinen tulip table


The Saarinen Tulip Table is the one table that works in absolutely ANY style of decor. I started noticing a recurring theme in my Pinterest boards when it came to inspiration for my breakfast nook in the kitchen redo, and that came in the form of the midcentury classic Saarinen tulip table.  This was kind of surprising to me as I’ve never been into super-retro furniture, but the more I thought about it and analyzed the photos I was collecting, I realized what a versatile piece it really can be.

Originally designed in the 1950s, Saarinen’s goal was to get rid of all the unnecessary clutter of table legs. Thus, the super-sleek, almost Jetsons-like appearance of the base was born. It comes in a variety of finishes and tabletop surfaces, including marble, wood, and white laminate.  Its simple design makes it surprisingly versatile even in more traditional interiors where you wouldn’t expect the presence of something so crisp — but that’s always the fun of design, isn’t it? The unexpected! And the chairs you could pair with it? OH THE CHAIRS! The never-ending parade of chairs!

Now, the real deal will set you back at least a cool $1800. And that’s just for starters. But if you’re lucky, you can come across Burke reproductions from the 1960s and 70s, or you can go with a modern knockoff. Companies like CB2 and Ikea also have pretty great options, although the size is on the small side.  For us, we needed something closer to the 48″ size because we like being able to seat up to 6 people in our kitchen – we got really used to having the flexibility with our previous dining set.

Speaking of the nook, check out my inspiration for the space. While not all of these include the actual tulip table,  I specifically looked for images of all-white spaces with pops of color and I LOVE the direction that it’s heading.

Breakfast Nook Inspiration

Clockwise from top left: 1 // 2 // 3 // 4 // 5

So. Now that you’ve got your fabulous Saarinen table (whether it be knockoff or not – no judgment here!), what chairs will you pair with them? From the photos above, it’s evident that it can mesh very easily with practically any style from traditional with a twist to more modern. But, whatever you do, I can’t say that I recommend pairing them with the matchy-matchy tulip chairs — if so, you’ll head directly into Jetsons territory.

Here for your viewing pleasure, I’ve put together my handy dandy guide to Chairs That Play Well With Tulip Tables.

Saarinen tulip table roundup: chairs in every style

The Colorful: TOLIX (SIMILAR) // EAMES
The Updated Classic: BUNGALOW 5  // JONATHAN ADLER
The Woodsy Option: INDUSTRY WEST   //  WEST ELM

Ok, there you have it — which one would you pick? Are you into the more modern feel of the tulip tables?

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  • Stacy Nance Interiors

    Love them! Sometimes you can find them on sites like the foundry. I like worlds away or j Adler chairs w it.

    • I’m obsessed. I found ours over at Space 20th Century Modern on Western, next to Ketch. It was providential – I walked in the door and said “I’m looking for a 48-inch Saarinen style table. Got anything?” And he said, “Actually, yes I do!” Sold!

  • Kelly

    I struck the jackpot a few years ago when I found a reproduction on OKC Craigslist. It’s got the carrera marble top and was $300. It’s in our breakfast nook with some Louis chairs I also Craiglisted and it makes me so happy!

    • Oh wow you DID hit the jackpot! Marble top?!?! Lucky you!

  • I love those Bungalow 5 chairs with the table. Very traditional meets modern. and that blue is fantastic.

    • Aren’t they delicious? Whyyyyy does all the good stuff have to be so $$?

  • onefinea

    This post literally made me squeal! I LOVE a good Saarinen table. I can totally see the Bungalow 5 chairs with it. As Angie mentioned, there’s something so fabulous about the successful juxtaposition of modern and traditional elements. I think that’s an area in which you excel (in addition to incorporating a good pop of color)!! I can’t wait to see more. Thanks for making me feel giddy this morning!!!

  • Sara

    I love our laminate top (got it pre kids and didnt realize how useful it would be with kids, sooo easy to clean).
    We actually have tolix chairs (green) and the eames chairs (white) that we use with it (but i like the fiberglass of the original eames so we got modernica reproductions that use the original presses).
    of course there is always the tulip chairs 🙂
    I’ve seen cool parings with the ghost chair and the panton chair

    • Sara

      oh, but right now with young kids we have the tolix chairs plus the tripp trap booster chairs in wood, which replaced the ikea plain white high chairs, also works well 🙂

  • Love this! We had a Saarinen table growing up (well my parents still do). I love Knoll. My {step} grandma is Florence Knoll so I am obsessed with all things mid-century. The pieces are truly timeless.

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