Friday, August 23, 2013

Hoosier Cabinets and Bin Tables

There has been so much happening here at the farm.  I want to tell you more and have photos, but need to download some pictures before I do that.  Little hints are:  I finished the magazine article for Edible Shasta-Butte magazine to be printed in October; we had a huge flower order for local event at Gridley Fair; Frank has been painting 2 cars for the Destruction Derby on Saturday and Sunday.
But early today, my mind was wondering, re-arranging the furniture and thinking of antique cabinets and tables.  If anyone knows me well, they know I have this fetish for old cupboards, cabinets and tables.  I used to have it for chairs too, but have moved on to upholstery chairs.  There is nothing that can get my creative juices going more than to find a fabulous old table or cabinet to fit into my house, somehow!!!
I love Hoosier cabinets.  If you do not know what these cabinets are, they are the perfect, utilitarian, self contained, kitchen of their time.  The typical Hoosier cabinet consists of three parts. The base section usually has one large compartment with a slide out shelf, and several drawers to one side. Generally it sat on small casters. The top portion is shallower and has several smaller compartments with doors, with one of the larger lower compartments having a roll-top or tambour. The top and the bottom are joined by a pair of metal channels which serve as the guide for a sliding counter top, which usually has a pair of shallow drawers affixed to its underside. The whole assembly, with the counter retracted, is fairly shallow. The very early counter tops were made from zinc; then they started making them out of granite.  There are thousands of variations with lots of different accessories, the flour bin and sifter; great glass storage containers; wire racks. Some cheaper ones came painted; some finer ones were made from oak. 
When we remodeled a Victorian house in Grass Valley, I used the top of one over my washer/dryer and the bottom of it as a kitchen island.  I always think about the many pies, breads and family meals that were made with this simple yet well designed piece of antique furniture.
I probably had at least 20 bin tables throughout my life.  I love them, get rid of them; fall in love with them again; then they are out the door. This one is in my office, it came from a 1920s Spanish fabulous house in Colfax area originally owned by Mr. Weimar who started the Weimar Sanatorium; and was in the maid's pantry.  It has the original gray paint on it which I sanded a bit, refinished the top and then put clear coat over it many years ago.  It has the two metal bins below; 2 drawers which I believe were used for silverware and cooking utensils and it is missing its' cutting board.  We had it up at our little cabin for years and was our only kitchen storage unit for a long time.  When we sold the cabin, it came home to my office.  My understanding is that they are basically a baking table.  Flour and sugar were stored in the bins; they would use the top to make their items, roll out the doughs or use the cutting board.  I have had a few that had a drop leaf on the side to use as a table to sit at along with baking.  Here are some other photos of various bin tables:
Some had the most beautiful pulls on the drawers.  The older the table, the more intricate the pulls, one table I once owned had dog heads embossed on the cast iron pulls.
If you look carefully, every bin table is different; just look at the turnings of the table legs on these few photos.  All different.  Some had 2 pull out cutting boards; some only had one drawer in the middle. This last photo is really ingenious.  The table top will pull out and drop down to make one big top. They also made single bin tables.  I am embarrassed to say I owned a few of them too.  They made their way from the kitchen to a side table by a chair in family room; to a side table in a bedroom.  They are so useful anyplace.
I suppose both these old kitchen units, if found today, would be painted with chalk paint.  I think they could have a renewed life in a craft room; in a kids room; or even as a bar in a family room.  Those big metal bins could sure store a bunch of toys instead of flour!!!
From our farm today-have a great weekend and if you are fairly local, come see our fun Gridley Fair.


Duck Allen said...

Where can I get help identifying my hoosier style top section only? There is no hardware and no label. I really just want to get hinges for for doors. I have pics and a detailed write up.
Dick Allen

love the idea of the top in laundry above washer...makes sense

Nancy Abbott said...

Hello, I am trying to locate an Hoosier for my sister. I never heard of them till today. She is almost 70 and wants one so badly. She takes care of her 2 brothers that have muscular dystrophy and her elderly husband ... and works at school cafeteria for 25+ yrs. can you please help me locate one? Even if it needs refurbished. I looked Hoosier immediately after I had gotten home. Needless to say I don't have $1,000 + to get it for her. She deserves angel wings and a halo but I know she would be floating on air to get one. And darn it she's got me wishing for one. We live in Tennessee and was brought up cooking old school. I'm so sorry for this long message... I have been going ring around the rosies and can't seem to find info... but lots of gorgeous pics. Could you help with any info? Thanks