Let’s talk about the kitchen table.
If you’ve been following along on my kitchen saga, that began almost five years ago, you’ll know that I’ve switched up my kitchen no less than half a dozen times since we began piecing it apart all that time ago. Part of this is because when I began this renovation, I was younger. My kids were younger. My tastes were yet as established. I was meeting the needs of a young mom with four kids five and under (yes, you read that right). I was excited to have a kitchen of my own, to design at will, but I also was tired. And there were budgets to meet. And barnyards to build.
Suffice it to say my energies were dispersed fairly thinly in this years.
Now that life has settled a bit (we’re steady in our work, our kids can all wipe themselves, and the animal accumulation seems to have plateaued at a manageable number), we’re finally turning out attention back to the kitchen. To finish what we started.
Part of that involved redoing a few things that had already been done, but let’s not dwell there. It gives me stress just thinking about how steep of a learning curve it has been to figure this out and do it ourselves. Another major part of the renovation involved knowing when to cry-Uncle and get someone in here to help. (So it went with the “ugly corner” that needed to be rewired, sheet-rocked, and have a large hole in the ceiling patched. Oh that was fun.)
But more on that whole bucket of fun later.
Today, I want to talk with you about the single piece of furniture that changed everything in my kitchen. The kitchen table.
And NO, thank you for asking, but I’m not being dramatic.
I had finally got the kitchen a good place. Everything had a place. I had the storage I needed. I felt like the flow was good. It was pretty. And yet…
If you’ve ever tried to design a room, you know when you’re making something work versus when something is making your heart sing. After all we had poured into this kitchen (included the 8 days I just spent on my hands and knees finishing the tile floor that I swear wrecked my hips and shoulders so bad I’ll never be the same), I wanted this room to friggin’ SING.
To finish the tile, we removed our large work table that had served as an attached island/counter space/storage cabinet. The room immediately felt more spacious and life-giving. Take note, Shaye.
…and then my friend Nettie called me. She told me that she’d found a table at a storage facility in Seattle and that she felt like it needed to be mine. A few video messages and texts later and I completely agreed. So a trailer was rented and the trip was made to pick the table up.
And my heart sang.
The kitchen table is something special – it is a French draw-leaf table. In its normal state, the top is six feet long. But there are two leaves that can be drawn out of the ends to extend the table to a whopping twelve feet.
(I’m using Italiac font so you can know just how exciting this is to me).
So I guess you could say it was by providence that this kitchen table landed in our kitchen. I hadn’t planned to replace the countertop. I hadn’t planned to just stick a table right in the middle of my kitchen. Yet here it sits.
I’m asked if I miss the countertop? No.
What I found about the “kitchen table” is that it draws even more life in than I thought possible. Those wandering through who would otherwise not linger do. They gladly sit at the table (I keep a few chairs at it for this reason) and engage in conversation, read a book, or write down a to-do list.
The table can be used as a serving table for food… or as a second table for kids when the main table is full… or a cocktail or wine bar when we have company… or as a place to enjoy a third cup of coffee and scone before heading back out into the cold for milking.
I keep a few baskets of potatoes, onions, garlic, or fruit under the table. I also keep a rotating bowl of something on the tabletop, along with a bottle of wine, a candle or two, perhaps my coffee grinder and beans, and my marble cutting board I use for making bread.
It’s so quaint. So humble. So basic. And yet it makes it the kitchen sing. Most kitchens don’t excite me – maybe this is why? Maybe this is what they’re missing to me? That family-style-belly-up-to-the-table element of a kitchen table. A comfortable place to exist, and rest. The table doesn’t have to be styled. It doesn’t have to try. It just is.
It is a kitchen table. And people know what to do with that.
I share this in the hopes that perhaps it’ll help some of you as you’re designing your spaces to save yourselves the years of turmoil in wondering what the heck to do in your kitchen. Though the kitchen table used to be utilized in almost every kitchen, they fell out of fashion years ago – being replaced by large storage cabinets and such. (Practical, but not nearly as charming, and that means something.)
I’m asked a lot about storage in my kitchen and the answer is simple: I keep things very paired back. Only that which I use every day gets to live in my kitchen – the rest is stored elsewhere or I simply get rid of it. I’m not into gadgets. I don’t have more than I need. I’ve adjusted my “stuff” to fit into the space I have. I don’t need bigger, or more. I need to utilize the space I have to meet my goals.
And thus the kitchen table will stay. Proud. Battered with years of use but sturdy. I feel as if I now I have a friend who has joined me in the kitchen to witness the breakfasts… lunches… suppers I serve up to my family.
As if we’re doing it together.
The kitchen table.