Shouldn't Work But Does: Vintage Medical Furniture

Is this a thing?

Jenna Hochman

Ok, hear me out: Vintage medical furniture.

Recently it occurred to me that the most interesting —and possibly even more affordable— vintage wares available online are probably hiding behind their initial function, so elusive to me when I am only and continually searching "Anna Castelli" or "Castligioni" (I'm going through an Italian design thing right now). The moment this realization came to me, I was pouring through pages and pages of Furnish Green's inventory when I came across this vintage medical exam table:

At first blush, the piece couldn't be less like my style. In spite of my desperate need for closed storage, it's a little industrial, a little traditionally mid-century modern for my taste. After all, it's a medical examination table. Perhaps nobody should have this in their home for ethical or morbid reasons. Still I found I couldn't get the exam table out of my head; on appointment I would revisit its virtual space, and over time it made a tiny incision, working its way into my heart...

Any reservations I had gave way to the perks and possibilities: The cornflower blue color that would soften all of the rude red decor I own! The drawers and cabinet space! The (adjustable) seating! These possibilities evolved to styling calculations; If the exam table was a dining room's sideboard, you could store your finer china, flatware, and extra table linens in the drawers. The ideal china would be in a classic toile, paired with crisp white linens to offset the exam table's cold, industrial vibe. A dry bar could live on the extendable metal tray! The exam seat could be adjusted upwards to accommodate a buffet serving situation and announce food's arrival with a flourish of pageantry.

Medical exam table sold by Furnish Green (New York, NY).

In the living room, a medical exam table would make quite the credenza, with the ability to stow board games, books, tissues, extra remotes, candles, extra pillows for guests. Speaking of guests, the extra seating would be a boon for larger gatherings, or for offering an additional bed for crashing. Any couch would have to be long, and have tall enough seat setting to be in the same stratosphere as the medical exam table, but its silhouette should remain fluffy but trim to contrast the substantial size of the credenza. Dare I say Mario Bellini's Le Bambole sectional would do the trick (seen here in Kaitlin Spring's living room)?

Whether you're picking up what I'm putting down or not, this medical exam table served as my reminder that some of the best, most interesting spaces have an element of the unexpected. So often, too often, the ineffable force behind the most intriguing interiors is that of tension and release, of harmony found through opposing or disparate styles. For your consideration, here are more unexpected sources of style in vintage medical equipment:

40s Art Deco medical cabinet via Midcentury Delight (Torrance, CA): I don't think I even have to tell you how many ways you could style this, but I'd add more bohemian elements in neon pink and browns to offset the "oxidized" mint color.

This antique exam chair from 1910 available on 1st Dibs (Norwalk, CT) doesn't have the most storage, but I'd extend its seatback and bring up the leg rest to make it into a console for your living room. Under the seat and between the wheels is the perfect place to set some tall storage containers, hopefully in bold vintage ABS plastic color, while on its surface I'd pair cheerful flowers with 60s-80s lacquered decor.

Emergency Trolley by Herman Miller via Tekayrd Medical (Elkin, NC). You heard me right, Herman Miller and in this perfectly 70s colorway.

60s medical exam table in a cornflower blue via Reliant Medical (Decatur, GA). Very similar to the one that started it all!

I'm sorry, is this MCM medical cart via Arperi Antiques (Ljubljana, Slovenia) not a distant cousin of both Space Age molded plastic chests and USM Haller Modular storage?

30s doctor's table via Dewey's House of Vintage (Greensboro, NC) that looks more like a perfect dressing table or entryway spot to drop your keys in a blobby glass catchall.

This medical bedside table from the 60s via The Old Attic (Slovenia) is absolutely ready to present some of your bedside books, candles, art, and a lamp — and don't be afraid to go kitsch with this austere base.

Jenna is the Content Lead at Dendwell.
Medical Exam Table sold by Furnish Green, NYC


Dendwell was a rigorously curated marketplace and magazine for vintage decor. From 2020 - 2022, we dug into the trends, tastemakers, and how-to's of vintage object collection. This is our archive site, and is no longer being updated.