Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Value and Beauty of A Center Island Old Farm Worktable In The Kitchen

Most kitchens that are designed and built now have some sort of center island.  They will have sinks, or stoves, or provide a large area for counter seating for the family to congregate.
When designing out this farmhouse, I knew I didn't want a center island.  What I wanted was a table that looked like what would be in an old farmhouse.  A table where people would make bread, pies, roll out doughs, make cookies, make pasta, do canning.  A utilitarian, hard working table.
Old farmhouse kitchens evolved with families, they were designed.  You can even see how old kitchens influence modern design.  Many new houses have cabinets that resemble hutches to store dishes or are different colors than the rest of the kitchen cabinets.  That is exactly how antique kitchen would look, they would have separate different pieces of furniture that were added to the kitchen as families grew and the farmer built them for their wives.
Some cabinets are utilitarian, like the old bin tables.  They would have metal large drawers that pull out and you would store flour, wheat, sugar in them.  Mine has one drawer that is divided in the middle so you can have 2 types of flour or dry goods stored in one drawer.  Then the bin table would have 2 silverware drawers above the bin drawers and lastly it would also have a pull out cutting board.  Some Bin tables would have a hutch that sat on top to store even more kitchen items.
My idea of a perfect island was always to find a very old and worn pine table, with a shelf on the bottom to hold bowls and trays.  I looked for many years, sometimes finding something close but not exactly.  One day, before we purchased this Gridley house, I was in an antique store in Auburn and saw the most perfect table I had ever seen.  It was pine, heavy duty, long and narrow (3'x6') and had a shelf below made out of individual slats of wood.  The owner of the store said it came from an Ireland farmhouse.  I put it on lay away not knowing where it would go, but knew someday I would have a perfect kitchen for it.
Fast forward 3 years and we had just purchased this 1930s Arts & Craft house in Gridley.  Frank has torn out all the kitchen and we were designing out the new kitchen.  The table would have center stage.  Frank wanted to put a sink in the middle of it, put electricity in it, but I did not. I wanted it to be exactly what it was, a farm worktable.
I had waxed it and left the old finish of nicks and cuts giving it personality.  As soon as the Carrara marble was put on the kitchen counters, the table would be moved into the center of the kitchen.  But the best laid plans never work out.  When the fabricators went to install the 6' long marble counter and the 6' long counter over the sink, the sink piece broke.  What a disastrous day.  In case you don't know about granite and marble, when you have it fabricated and you need pieces, you have to select pieces that were sliced from the original piece so the colors and grains match.  So when the sink section broke, that meant the "L" shape 6' counter piece had to be changed too.
Instead of it being a wasted piece, it had 3 sides of it already trimmed and the size was 3'x6'. I asked the fabricator if he could put the same molding design on the 4th side?  He said yes.  So the wasted counter marble section became the top to my center farm table that matched the rest of the counter!!
We have been using our farm table for several years now and I still love it as much as I did in the beginning.  One change recently was that I saw in a magazine a similar table in a kitchen, where the article said it was an old bakery table.  The photo showed one end of the table with a couple of drawers for knives and utensils.  I liked that idea so asked Frank to make me some.
They turned out great, I still need to find the perfect drawer pulls for them, I want old ones which will be fun to hunt for this summer at flea markets.
My table holds a large French basket on the bottom shelf for recycling; The lower shelf holds bowls and ironstone trays.  And I keep all my knives in one of the new drawers and my spices in the other drawer.  I always rotate antique metal bowls or wooden boxes on the top of the table to hold fresh flowers or fresh fruit.
I give cooking classes in my kitchen, we have hosted large parties; big holiday get togethers; big canning projects; the old farmhouse table has never let me down.
For me, it is just perfect!

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