When I was a kid, getting out the folding TV trays felt as rare and as special as a snow day. We were a "dinner around the table every night" family, and one not especially keen on television, so eating on the TV trays felt like getting away with something. You're probably already picturing the TV trays my family had—a set of four folding wooden tables in a honey blonde stain that were stored on a matching rack. They took up too much real estate, were too heavy, were decidedly ugly, and—to my developing brain—were perfect.
But that was a long time ago. Now I'm an adult with my own TV, my own style, and my own TV-eating rules. Sadly, I'm also an adult lacking the regular dinner ritual I grew up with. My boyfriend is co-owner/operator of a restaurant, and as you can imagine, giving customers a nice dinner experience doesn't leave much time to cultivate your own. I still cook for us, but those dinners tend to happen late at night. I'm still doing real cooking and I still want to sit at a real table, but I really don't have the time to do it all. We have approximately an hour of free time after the restaurant closes and before we both pass out. That's one hour for tv and dinner, and buddy, there's a whole lot of prestige TV to watch.
So I set out to find a TV tray that fit my lifestyle—and my living-room style. Those wooden trays I grew up with? They're so clunky, they're almost chic again in a so-wrong-it's-right kinda way. But much like the oversized, ugly sneaker trend the fashion world is (mercifully) moving on from, those wooden trays are just too damn big. I live in Brooklyn, where space is so limited I have to keep my sock count to a minimum.
The options available to me on Amazon fell into two categories: "Way Too Whimsical" and "Office-Supply Store Eleganza". Next I tried my luck with the vintage section on Etsy. And while I found some cute and colorful lap trays, I needed something with legs. Even though I'm streaming while dining, I still set out a cloth napkin and a wine glass. (Sorry, I didn't ask to be this way!)
The real break in my search came when I started searching for "folding tables." After sifting through larger folding tables meant for card games and church potlucks, I found it—my TV table. Designed by spouses Robert and Cortney Novogratz, CB2's Novo Acrylic Folding Table is more furniture than TV novelty. With brushed brass legs and a clear lucite tabletop, it mixes function with just a little bit of camp. Ok, maybe more than a little bit, but that's what I love about it. What I also love is that the Novo easily folds up, but is substantial and sturdy when it's upright. It's substantial both structurally and visually. When I'm not eating Instant Pot ribs in the warm glow of my TV, the Novo looks great as a side table, or as a mini-bar at a house party. You could even use it to set an extra place setting for a big dinner party or at Thanksgiving. It's a folding table you don't really want to store in the closet. (Though again, you could.)
I understand that some people might balk at $149 for a TV table, but think of it this way: this is my dining room table. Plus, it's a steal when you consider it next to the Charles Hollis Jones folding tables on 1stDibs I really want.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious