Marble table/island: Need advice

mama goose_gw zn6OHJuly 15, 2010

This is a subject for the kitchen forum, but I'd like opinions from smaller homes group.

I bought this table from craigslist, and I love it! It has etches, but no stains, and it's a good size for my kitchen. The space between table edge and counters is 36"-40" on each side, and if we can take out the wall between the kitchen and dining room, one end will face the dining room, but not be in pass-through traffic. I've already banished a pie safe to the dining room, to make sure we have a good traffic flow, especially when the whole family wants to be in the kitchen.

It is currently 29" tall, but we plan to add 'feet' to make it a few inches taller. That will also mean more room to build a shelf, or shelves underneath for storage. My questions are:

How tall would you make it for a comfortable work table? I'm 5'7, and the chief cook and bottle washer. The shelf/shelves will need to house this stuff, and a few decorative pieces, maybe.

Would you have open shelves, or use a cabinet in the center to hide the hodge-podge, and open shelves on the ends for the pretty things? Would you put doors or a skirt on the cabinet? Or, use a skirt all around the table, and skip the cabinet, and displays? I'm having visions of enigmaquandry's pretty sink skirt. :-)

The table will not be anchored--no prep sink or electric, but I would like to incorporate a couple of slide-out breadboards/cutting boards, probably on a long side. I found a vintage glass towel rod that fits perfectly on a short side. (Goodwill $1.15!)

What do you think? Can I make this work in a vintage-style kitchen? I've been looking at island/work-table pictures on websites, and found one that said that harvest tables are regaining popularity. I'm thinking with this plan I can have the best of both worlds for very little investment.

Oh, yes, do you thinks it's too big for a 13x13 kitchen? Please say no...

Here is a link that might be useful: Beveled edge

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OH That is so nice!!! I would have driven that far to get it too.

I might look for a small chest of drawers to set under it to hold your things. I did that for awhile under the enamel top table I use in my studio now. It used to be center kitchen island.

Measured it and it is 31 1/2 inches tall. It was a baking table I think. Was certainly meant to be a kitchen table before fitted kitchens. Was part of the three piece set of Hoosier enamel table and small drop leaf that used to come all together.

In my opinion I would not really want open shelves because of the dust factor. Would be a pain to clean all the time. But that is here. You might not have the dust and winds we have here.

I liked the dresser under and it worked well. It was and still is three deep drawers and 29 inches high and 25 inches wide I also had a small night stand next to it. Course that was kind of hodge podge so I made a skirt facing the ends and back side I did not have to get into all of the time. Well then I ended up getting the desk and turning it into an island.

So for me and I am 5'5" I do not think the table is tall enough to work at for long periods of time I use it in my studio but I sit in my office chair. Well up and down constantly. Our kitchen counters are 36 inches and I am comfortable with them. But it might look weird for an island to be that high.

Oh one more thing. If you can not find a dresser short enough you usually can shave an inch or so off the bottoms of them. Most have a false bottom. I have done that a couple of times to get something to fit. Just saw slowly to keep the line straight.

So I guess I am not all that much help.

AND BTW your seeds are close to getting ready. Watching close now. :^))


    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 6:14PM
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Wow, what a deal you got on that table, including chairs. The table top alone is worth what you paid. You could add locking wheels to the legs, giving it height and mobility when you need it. A shelf in the middle would be great too and I like the skirt idea a lot.

Enjoy ~ FlowerLady

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 7:26PM
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when I click on the link to your table, I get my email sign in page!? so haven't seen your table yet...

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 9:42PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

desertsteph, here is the link to the album, maybe it will work better.

flowerlady, thank you, I have to touch the table every time I walk by it. :-)

shades, you always have the best ideas. I'd love to have a chest of drawers--my dish cloths are still in the pie safe, and I'm walking across the dining room every time I need one.

    Bookmark   July 15, 2010 at 10:23PM
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mama g - tonight I can see your table! it's beautiful and what a steal! I think it'll be awesome the way you want to use it.

a small chest - like a jewelry chest with shallow drawers would work under it. I have one with 5 drawers and it's about 27.5 inches high.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 9:02PM
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I'm thinking that with it 5 feet long and 3 feet deep, you can raise it up at lease two inches or more.

Then I would maybe put a couple of the rolling microwave type carts under it. You don't really NEED that box, Mama! And I know the bags can be stored flat somewhere, right?
I love that huge mixing bowl. What is in the two plastic totes?

The plastic totes can be turned to other uses, and then you go to Staples or some business supply store and find the rolling plastic file drawers. They would be very functional. Until you experiment a little, don't make any big investment of money into something which will be too expensive to throw away or to repurpose.

What I really really like of course is the heavy legs on that table. A low shelf with covered baskets on it for the practical storage stuff, and then the other things out where you can get to them. That would be lovely in your kitchen.

And NO, it is not too big in a 13 x 13 kitchen. A 3x5 foot work top is wonderful. Of course, you could put locking casters on the legs, so it could be rolled out of the way if you choose not to have rolling independent plastic two0drawer file cabs a la Staples.

I love the table. And I also love a movable narrow island with two shelves that could be slid under this table and then pulled out for extra work space. Put the kind of top you want on it, too.

BTW, why are you posting over here on the pink side? Your topic is legit for the other side, isn't it? Or am I missing something........:)

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:42PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

desetsteph, Thank you!

moccasinlanding, the box and paper bags were stored in the pie safe, but I've done some rearranging. The plastic totes contain an electric skillet, crockpot, apple peeler/corer, and various other pieces of kitchen equipment that aren't used often. While not that attractive, they were functional--just fit on the shelf that my husband built for the drop-leaf table, and since the leaves were down most of the time, they were partially hidden. The huge bowl was a gift from my sister--great for bread dough or mixing 'chex mix' ingredients. I love it, too!

I thought maybe a discussion of kitchen work-tables would spark some lovely 'off-topic' memories of times spent preparing holiday meals, peeling apples, baking pies--so if anyone has some, I love hearing about the 'good old days.'

I'll start: When I was a child, I loved spending time at my grandparents' house. Their small kitchen (ap 9x14) was the heart of their home, and their table was truly a work table--used for dining, preparing fruits and vegetables for cooking and canning, sewing, bathing babies, wrapping gifts, giving home perms, and celebrating every holiday. Sometimes I look at my yard or something in my house, and realize that I've been trying to recreate my grandmother's wonderful, humble home.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 11:42PM
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Mama, what a lovely memory. I'm trying to remember my paternal grandparents farmhouse. It had a porch all across the front, then two rooms opening onto that porch. There was a fireplace in the middle so one fire served both rooms. Behind one room was a very deep kitchen at least same size as the front rooms, and that kitchen opened out to a back porch which was covered and ran behind the second front room. That was the whole house. In the front two rooms, two double beds were in each room. The four boys slept in one of the rooms. The three girls and my grandparents slept inthe other front room. The baby girl slept with the grownups. My grandpa had the back legs of his cane bottom chair cut at an angle so he could lean back against the hearth and whittle and chew tobacco and spit into the fire. He grew his own tobacco, and also rolled his own cigarettes usually, only seldom did he dip or chew.
And it was there by the light of a lamp that my grandma was operated on as the first patient of the new doctor, to remove a carbunkle from her head. I remember watching.

And the kitchen was pretty big, seems to me. As big as a front room. It had a wood stove of course. It had a very log wooden table which seated a lot of people. My grandpa sat at the head of the table with the window behind him. I always sat to his right. He was the joker of the family, and always said that Tiny (my grandmother) was the only woman he knew could take 100 pound sack of flour and make 500 pounds of gravy and a DRESS. He grew corn, including pop corn, was one of the first to grow Spanish peanuts to feed his livestock, and had big cotton fields. Like Lo, I too was a small child dragging a long bag down the rows of those fields in late August or early September to pick cotton. Grandpa gave me a nickel for every bag of cotton. Did I mention that he was a SCOTSMAN? He also grew watermelon and my grandmother took care of her own patch of veggies. I credit my two grandmothers for instilling in me a love for gardening. When the cabbage sets grew to make big heads of cabbage so she could can kraut, she made me swell up in pride, because she declared as how I had planted them JUST RIGHT to make them grow so fine.

Oh Mama, the memories of those simpler and happier times when life stretched out before me, they are flooding back. The love my mother could not show to us, my brother and myself, was offset by the tremendous love given by my paternal grandparents, and my maternal grandmother. I was so very lucky to have them in my childhood. Because of them, I grew up to be a normal person. Or almost, anyway.
I did not understand it then, but I do now.

Anyway, back to the kitchen. There was a hoosier cabinet in that kitchen, which had a big flour hopper. And I think those big mixing bowls like yours, Mama. Grandma had a wooden long piece of wood scooped out to hold the flour and it was never washed. In this she made her biscuits. What was left over stayed in the bowl. Leftover biscuits went in the top warming drawer of the stove above the iron cook top surface. That was where the left over bacon, cornbread and any kind of pie stayed too. My mother looked down her nose at grandma's cornbread because she made it from white corn. But I loved it. And in the fall, grandma would take the shelled hard corn--it ruined my fingers getting those hard kernels off that cob--and put it in homemade lye--which she made by letting water drip through wood ashes from the fireplace--and then the kernels would POP OPEN and reveal the expanded soft hominy (from which grits are made). Those hominy kernels were then left in the big water trough and washed and washed to remove the busted corn skins, and to get the smell of lye off them. But oh my I can still remember the delightful taste of fried out hominy cooked in homemade churned butter...and I did the churning, by the way. Grandpa also had a smoke house where he kept his supply of butchered hogs. I think pork was more important to him than any beef, I have no memories of eating beef.

The chairs were all the straight back cane bottomed chairs with three slats in the back. Grandpa made them himself. I sat in one to churn the milk.

And I can remember my grandma putting water in some cornmeal to make it clump up, taking it up in her apron, and walking outside to feed the chickens who had the run of the yard. She'd go "Here chick-chick-chick!" And they'd come running. While they were clustered and clucking around her, she'd reach down and grab on by the neck, spin it around a few times and drop it, continuing to feed the rest while that one flopped around and was finally still. Then she grabbed it up and doused it in a big washpot of boiling water sitting over an outside wood fire. And proceeded to pluck it and gut it, and I think save the innards for the hogs.

A lot of the food preparation as well as the laundry was all done outdoors, either beside an open fire, or in the shade of the back porch. There was NO GRASS LAWN around this wood frame house. Rose bushes galore, but no grass allowed. Grandma had a homemade brush broom that she swept this dirt area with every morning, raking the chicken poop up under the roses and out of the way of human footsteps.
Chickens also helped keep down the grass or weeks. But I've considered why this tradition that Grandma always observed. I decided it was to reduce the chance of burning down the house when the grass dried up. Certainly there were many fires built outdoors, and sparks going up the chimney and flue of the wood stove. Fire was a daily part of life winter and summer.

Other than the churn and an enamel topped working table, I don't think there was much else in her kitchen. The stove wood was piled on the back porch or at least as much as she would use for the day. Grandpa sold firewood by the cord, and he kept that a little further away from the house.

When the cotton was all picked each day's yield was dumped onto the front porch. I remember the piles of it reaching all the way to the roof, with only enough room to go in and out of the door. All of us kids, about five of us by then, would burrow into the cotton and come out sweaty and covered in sticky bolls of white. Then when picking was done, Grandpa loaded it all up into his wagon with high sides stuck on to make one trip do it, and he and I hitched up the mules and drove it to town. Yes, I remember taking the wagon under the big thingy at the cotton gin that sucked the cotten out of the wagon. We waited afterward to get our seeds back, with which to plant next year's crop.

Delving into the past sometimes reveals new images which were buried. I will leave off here. And think about how lucky I am to have these things as part of ME.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 12:52PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

moccasinlanding, thank you for sharing your memories with us--you make everything bright and clear, and I can see some of my childhood in your words. LOL, I was just speaking to my aunt about my grandmother, and she said, "Of course, she treated you grandchildren SO much better than she treated her own children." I had to laugh, because I know that's not true, but of course it was different--she knew she wasn't responsible for our moral upbringing, so she could relax and be our pal as well as our biggest fan.

And your grandmother's hominy--I can remember my grandmother's chewy yellow hominy that she fried with butter, too, and also her pickled corn, made when the fresh corn was just starting to get 'hard.' When she sliced it off the cob, it would come off in sheets that stayed intact in the canning jar. (By the time I came along they had swapped crocks for mason jars.) I can remember sacks of wheatberries in the 'out-building.' We were allowed to take a handful to chew--after a while the gluten would be like a homemade chewing gum. And I remember Pappaw cutting us sugar cane so we could chew the pith.

Your depiction of your grandfather reminds me of my grandfather's Uncle Jesse. He was a thin wisp of a man, so mellow and nice, and good to children and dogs. So was his wife, Aunt Dellie. Uncle Jesse chewed tobacco, and always had a little trail down the corner of his mouth. LOL, now I think ewwww, but that trail of tobacco 'juice' never bothered me when I was a child. Uncle Jesse was hard of hearing by the time I knew him, so one had to get close to communicate!

When I hear a 'jar-fly,' a whippoorwill (not often these days), or a goat bleating, I think of my grandmother, and I cherish those memories.

    Bookmark   July 18, 2010 at 7:25PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH


I honed the marble, pics 6,7,8,9, details in captions. I love it even more! We had a family dinner on Sunday, and someone left a puddle of water (or ice cubes that melted) for several hours. When I dried it I noticed a faint etch, which disappeared when I used the same sanding sponge that I used to 'polish' the marble.

My husband has decided that he'd rather start from scratch with the cabinets/shelves, than use a dresser. I'm still keeping my eye out for a dresser, so if I find the perfect piece, I'll have to come up with a plan. ;)

    Bookmark   August 3, 2010 at 10:06AM
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It looks great! I think you got a great deal too. Can't wait to see what you come up with next.

    Bookmark   August 8, 2010 at 8:03PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Thanks, marti, wish my DH had the same reaction to all my ideas!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:28PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Update 9-26-10: Except for doors on the cabinet, the island is complete, and I'm still thrilled with it. For about $55.00 worth of new materials, and some left-over paint, we've made our $100.00 marble table much more functional. When we get the kitchen finished and organized, I plan to store jars of baking supplies on the shelves. For now, the pretty things are just for show ;)

Here is a link that might be useful: Baking island pics 10-18.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2010 at 9:17PM
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Mama, love the design of your marble top island. It reminds me of the "project" desk/table that Pottery Barn sells. It has the same modular feel to it.

Glad to see you found a great spot for the folded paper bags. And the way you've incorporated that short table/bench into the design is awesome. You are thinking like a real designer there. I never would have imagined piggy-backing it under the island. Now it can be totally out of the way and not take up ANY floor space. Did your DD give it to you for good?

Taking those things from your buttery is gradually clearing it out too. Serves to get it ready for next spring, when I see a nice pergola going up around it, with a tea table and some morning glory vines growing over it. We'll all come over for tea and scones.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 10:43AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Thank you, Moccasinlanding, you are a good influence.

My daughter would like to keep the table, but with all her stuff returning home with her (and our grandson) we are running out of storage space--for the time being we're killing two birds with one stone. The out-buildings aren't weather-tight enough to keep good furniture.

If she takes the table with her when she moves out again, we'll replace the shelf under the island. My brother-in-law built the little table for my sister, who then passed in on to my DD--I can probably talk him into making another one when the time comes. In any case, I'd like to rout the edges of the top, to make it more comfortable for sitting.

A May-Day party in the buttery would be lovely--save the date. Or, we can have a Vernal Equinox celebration and dance around under the mulberry tree. ;)

    Bookmark   September 28, 2010 at 12:43PM
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WOW Mama-Goose, This has turned out wonderfully. Love the bench AND the cans/jars are great. I have a couple of the old bread cans. One stores dog cookies. Neither of mine look as pretty as yours do. I think I should spray them.


    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 10:45AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Thanks, shades, I wouldn't have painted the cans if the finish had been salvageable, but I'm really happy with the color. With your talent you could also do mosaics on your cans, as well as spray paint.

I have another project, an old metal box, that I want to spray paint, too. It's red enamel--not my favorite color, a little beat up, but really in good condition. What do you think about butter-cream, like the old enamelware/graniteware that combined cream and green? (Almost the green color on my flour can.)

Here is a link that might be useful: Tool?Tackle?Sewing? Box

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 1:47PM
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OH Hahaha one of my bread cans is already painted the cream and green. I did it years ago. Joe needs to put a small rivet into it though it is starting to come apart at the seam.

For sure I would paint that.It is darling.

I have an old tin lunch box I hope to do something with some day.

    Bookmark   October 1, 2010 at 9:17PM
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mama g - I think your table, the top, shelf and boxes look just great!

moccasin - what great stories! you should put them into a little book!

my, what life used to be like! such memories. yours are more ? primitive (not thinking of correct word to use) than mine. my maternal gma died shortly before i was born and we had little contact with the paternal side. I only remember 1 time going to the paternal gparents house, being out in gma's garden and helping her pick veggies and gpa on the enclosed front porch yelling at us to be quiet so he could hear his ballgame (WS).
we only had a very small garden - I don't remember getting much out of it. Life was very basic for us and looking back, I'm glad. I think life is too full of 'stuff' now and 'going' places. kids don't have time to do the stuff we did. like run around the neighborhood with our cap guns 'shooting' each other and putting one of us in 'jail' (neighobor girl's playhouse). we were playing cowboys and Indians. played all around the area (miles) until dark. spent lots of time in the summer in the yard on a blanket reading comic books (boxes of them given to us - from I don't know where). In the winter sledding down the street in front of our house.
Such a different time than it is now.

    Bookmark   October 3, 2010 at 6:12PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Well, it's finished, at least for now. Here's a pic of the doors, and please note that the table is covered with tools, because we are slowly forging ahead with the kitchen re-do.

I'm starting a Kitchen album, so it won't be such a chore to organize the pics when we are finished. I'll post soon on the other side.

Here is a link that might be useful: Island doors

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 11:56AM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I just re-read the start of this thread. My husband nixed the idea of bread-boards, although there is a great place behind the cabinet for one. Maybe some day I'll figure out how to install one and not mention it to him. ;)

I found another place in the new kitchen for the glass towel holder, but I can always put it on the table if that idea doesn't work.

Thanks to everyone for your encouragement and good thoughts--I'm going to need more of it in the coming months!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 12:06PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

I should have read the end of the thread, too.

Thank you for the compliments, and for sharing your lovely memories. I had the same type of childhood, in a much simpler time--my favorite reading spot was under a weeping-willow tree in my grandparents yard. I guess we have to work a little harder to give those kinds of memories to our kids and grandkids.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 12:13PM
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Mama-goose, I had to scroll back through this album and it is just amazing how nicely you converted this table to a really useful piece. I like the doors. LOL on the grape cluster. I remember them from back then.


    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 10:47AM
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Mama, look for us on the May Day party date, when we will bring shasta daisies for floral crowns for everyone, and we can drink bathtub gin out of your clawfoot tub in the yard.
My DH told me that the workers on the Hoover Dam may have invented bathtub gin, made from their potato peelings and such, really in their bathtubs, and that was all they could afford back in those days. I saw the illustrations from the recent book about building that dam, and it was a crude life at best for the families of the workers. They had to take their pleasures any way they came.

But about the table. I am more impressed each time I see that marble, and the way you are using it. I have a mental image of you going into your kitchen and running your fingertips over the cool marble, with a bemused faint smile twitching the corner of your mouth. Such a sybaritic pleasure nice surfaces give. You have found a treasure.

    Bookmark   October 17, 2010 at 2:00PM
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mama goose_gw zn6OH

Thanks, shades, do you remember 'Clackers'? The same lucite-type balls, suspended on a string. You held the string in the middle and bounced the balls together until you built enough momentum to clack them top and bottom.

Moccasin, you're right about the pleasure I take in the marble. After I've 'caressed' it, I stand back to check for greasy little fingerprints--my grandson has claimed a corner of the table as his own--having the bench there is perfect for him.

LOL at the image of all of us cavorting around the tub, swilling gin! I've read about the 'hootch' that the gold-rush miners made from potatoes--my sourdough starter develops the same type of liquor if I don't stir it often. We could sample that, too!

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 3:11PM
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