The Magic “Transformer Table” That Lets Me Host 12 People in My Tiny NYC Apartment

published Jun 15, 2024
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Credit: Sofia Rivera

When I first moved to New York City, I left dozens of items I had once deemed essential behind — kitchen accoutrements, a space heater, boxes of books, even, confusingly, my bed frame. New York apartments are famously small, I reasoned, so I’d just have to learn to live without a toaster oven, toaster, or microwave. As it turns out, my decluttering was a little too hasty — the apartment I settled into is a cozy one-bedroom that probably could have accommodated some of the belongings I rashly discarded. In fact, I’ve even found room for a 10-foot dining table. 

Okay, well, most of the time it seats just two people. I have it pushed into the corner of my living room — an unsuspecting, modern, square dining table in a Scandinavian oak finish. The magic trick comes into play when I decide to extend it — that’s because it’s a Transformer Table. If you haven’t seen the viral videos of the essentially ever-expanding Transformer Table, maybe you’ve seen it flying off the shelves of your local Costco.

Credit: Sofia Rivera

What Is the Transformer Table?

Started by a group of seven friends with a variety of backgrounds — in engineering, finance, ecommerce, and furniture production — Transformer Table first launched in 2016. The company’s first innovation, the dining table, was dreamed up when one of the founder’s sisters moved into a small apartment and needed a creative solution. Since then, they’ve expanded to include modular couches, outdoor dining sets, and a range of new wood finishes

The Transformer Table’s eponymous product is by far the most popular innovation from the brand, and for good reason. The solid wood tables are designed to shrink to an 18-inch-deep console table and just as easily stretch to become a nearly 10-foot-long dining table that can seat up to a dozen people. To change the size, all you have to do is pull the ends apart so they glide along the metal supports, extend it to the desired length, and then set the expansion panels in place (one panel for a four-person table; five panels for a 12-person table). Et voila! You have a shapeshifting piece of furniture that feels like a small-space miracle. After years of seeing footage of these tables, I knew I had to try it out for myself. 

My Honest Review of the Transformer Table Dining Set

For the last few months, I’ve been testing the Transformer Dining Set – The Practical. The set includes the iconic Transformer Table and the Transformer Bench, and I added on the Transformer Coffee Table, which gave me a comprehensive look at the brand’s dining furniture. However, you can shop sets of various sizes and buy pieces a la carte as well. 

When my Transformer Table first arrived, my jaw dropped. Not one but three men heaved four large boxes into my apartment and warned me that they were heavy. That’s in part because the dining table comes fully assembled; when I pried open the box, I found the table in two-seater form, ready to use. It’s also because the entire dining set is made out of solid wood — by itself the console table weighs just over 110 pounds. When you add in the panels, that’s an extra 55 or so pounds. So, needless to say, the heft and quality was slightly heavier than the IKEA pieces I’d become accustomed to. 

The caliber of the piece is undoubtedly a pro, although it did make it nearly impossible for me, a girl with almost no upper body strength to speak of, to move anything around alone. Once I had some help, we pretty easily moved the table into the corner where it now resides and locked one of the panels into place. 

Why so many boxes, though? In addition to the dining table, the Transformer Dining Set also comes with a Transformer Bench, which operates under the same expansion principle. In its smallest form, the boxy bench seats one person (at 28.5 inches long), although when you add all five panels, it grows to fit up to six people (at about 135 inches long). The bench also came pre-assembled, which was a joy to see, as I’ve spent hours putting together various flat-packed furnishings from a certain Swedish superstore. I mostly keep the bench in its single-person form (to save on space) and use it as a little entryway landing pad, and I love the way it looks. Because I don’t use all of the panels, they cleverly nest right inside the bench itself, so I don’t have to find somewhere else to store them in my single-closet apartment.

As for the table’s panels, you do have to store those. They’re easy enough to stack against the wall or in a closet if you’re lucky, but the company also offers a smart product to do just that, too: the coffee table. It doesn’t come with the dining set, but you can add it on for an extra charge if you have the budget and space. “Transformer Table extension panels can be stored in the multifunctional Transformer Coffee Table which doubles as a panel storage unit,” per the site. I’ll admit that when I first saw that, I did think a table to store the parts of another table felt just a tad redundant. And, surrounded by big boxes in my not-so-large living room, I wasn’t initially sure what to even do with the coffee table, which has a solid 3×3.5-foot footprint. But in the months since owning the table, it’s become one of my favorite pieces. 

The Transformer Coffee Table was the one piece in the order that required assembly, but once built it acts both as a chest for all of the table’s panels, and also as a WFH workhorse. That’s because the lift-top table raises up to serve as a surface for my trio of drinks (water, coffee, tea), a desk for my laptop, and sometimes even a dining table for my bowl of popcorn while watching whichever reality TV dating show I’m watching (yes, I watched all of The Golden Bachelor). 

As you might expect, the Transformer Dining Set set I tested is comparable to other high-end dining room furniture. However, Transformer Table is worth it to me because of its multifunctionality — by adding three new pieces to my apartment, I feel like the petite space is suddenly capable of so much more, whether that’s hosting friends or working from home.

In all, the Transformer Dining Set really has transformed my apartment. The pieces not only expand and contract, but they’re also multi-functional. I use my coffee table every day, not paying any mind to the four panels stored in there, but when I make good on my New Year’s resolution of hosting more dinner parties in my NYC apartment, I’ll simply slide apart the bench and the dining table to convert my cozy living room into a dining room fit for a feast.

 Buy: Transformer Dining Set 4.0 – The Practical, $2,398.50 (normally $3,198)

This post originally ran on Apartment Therapy. See it there: The Transformer Table That Makes Hosting a Breeze in My Small Apartment