A Custom, Live-edge Elm Waterfall Bar Table

A Custom, Live-edge Elm Waterfall Bar Table

Our clients on this project were trying to outfit their home with a lounge area for entertaining that had a “mountain contemporary” design concept. They thought a live-edge bar would be the perfect piece, and they came to us with some inspiration images that showed a clear vision and some real ambition. Like many of the projects we do, this one evolved over time to fit their home and its needs, so that they wound up with something that didn’t just look beautiful, but which also allowed the room to function in the way they wanted.

What began as more of a true bar – like one you’d find in a restaurant setting – became much more like a kitchen island after our clients had some meetings with their interior designer. The piece would be more intimate, a place for people to gather around either standing or in bar-height chairs. Changes like this one are common, and they’re often determined by both conceptual and pragmatic factors. “How do you envision using the space?” “What is the clearance to walls and other furniture?” Each sort of question is important, and they both bear on what our piece should look like and do.

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Once we had a purpose and a size for the piece, it was time to find just the right slab to bring it to life. After looking at a number of options that fit the bill, they decided on a gorgeous elm slab. Picking a slab is ultimately a process of determining which species have the right look and feel for the piece, and which individual slabs have the right dimensions to allow us to get what we need. Once we have a candidate list, it’s all about the client’s preference. Happily, our distributor has a fantastic website with high-resolution photos of available slabs, so clients can really dig into what they like about each slab. This outline may be too wild, that one too plain, this slab too highly-figured, that one not enough. It’s these aesthetic decisions that make a slab table so personal, and which endear them to homeowners so deeply.

With a slab chosen, we did our “slab assessment,” which is where we determine how exactly we’re going to use it. If there’s more material than we need or can use, we’ll consult with the client on how to maximize and highlight the features they like best. Sometimes, this means starting our layout from one end and cutting off the other. Sometimes, as in a desk, we may find a particularly beautiful piece of the slab and plan the whole piece around it, so that it’s somewhere it can be seen and appreciated without a keyboard or a printer covering it up. We take our responsibility to get the most we can out of slab – functionally and aesthetically – very seriously, so we offer our clients choices, and no cuts are ever made without explicit approval.

In this case, because there wasn’t a huge amount of excess material, the question was really just whether to let the slab flare out naturally as it came down to the floor from the waterfall edge. Our clients elected to leave the dimension at the floor full-width, about 49”, because they had enough clearance on either side for comfortable passage. We could have tucked that dimension in, with either straight or faux-live cuts, but it’s always nice to leave a live edge where you can.


A full waterfall table like this one is inherently dramatic, and it’s fun to show guests how they can trace a single grain line up from the floor, across the tabletop, and back down to the floor at the other end. It’s a really nice tribute to the material and to the tree that it once was. In a setting like this one, where the beauty of nature is a feature, this sort of table makes perfect sense. We’re proud to have been the ones to build it.