Island or table?

lavender_lassJuly 16, 2010

I have decided on a kitchen open to a dining and seating area (kind of a hearth room style) but not a great room...separate living/dining area.

The L-shaped kitchen could use an island or large work table to direct traffic to the other areas and keep them out of my work space...and provide room for extra prep/baking, etc.

While an island provides lots of storage, I also like the idea of a big work table that can be moved, when necessary. Does anyone have any suggestions?

Oh, it's an old farmhouse kitchen, with a woodstove planned for one corner, near a corner banquette with round table and two chairs. Also hoping to open up the old side porch and make room for a settee and a few chairs. I would love to have a space for friends/relatives to visit in the kitchen, without having the noise of the TV/video games competing with the conversation :)

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Lavender Lass, if you don't actually need the storage an island can provide, like you have a pantry somewhere, I'd definitely go with the table. Especially if it has massive legs, some wheels to make it movable if it is heavy, and then on a low bottom shelf a space to put a few of your very large items on a par with old pressure cookers or a wash pot or big laundry woven baskets. It would give a sense of openness to have the floor visible through the legs and low shelf.

If you find a table with a nice top that still looks aged and usable, leave that and reseal it if needs be. Or, add your marble slab there for usefulness. I like the way your plans sound.

Such a table would be nice for cutting out fabric in a pinch. And if your friends don't want to sit at the round table but come to your work table, have a couple of stools there so they can shell beans or cut out biscuits for baking. My oh my, it sounds like my grandmother's kitchen where as a child I would churn near her big kitchen table.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 6:53PM
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Moccasin- That sounds great! Very much like what I was imagining. My grandmother had a beautiful big, green ceramic bowl she always made her bread in. I'd love to put something like that on the shelf :)

I do sew, so great idea on using the table to cut out fabric. I think I'd rather have a wood top than marble, but a marble slab would be great for rolling out pie crust! Maybe in another area...

Okay, sounds crazy, but can you store marble the way you would a cutting board, in the cabinetry? Maybe pull it out when you want to use it, or would it be too heavy?

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 7:09PM
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Do you have the newest BH&G's Kitchen and Bath Ideas magazine...the one with the white kitchen and the aqua blue island?

On page 72 there's a Scandinavian style kitchen that has a big table they use as an island. I would love something like that...but maybe painted blue, instead of the cranberry color.

I love green and blue accents in a warmer toned white kitchen!

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 7:15PM
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It does sound nice...but a nice thing about an island is that you can put in electricity and possibly water to make it even more useful. you could still have open shelving...even see/through.

Just something to consider... commas or dashes or quotes etc. on a Kindle keyboard...

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 8:21PM
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Completely agree with Buehl that plumbing and, especially, power on an island makes it much more convenient and useful as workspace. Also, even though I'm not quite 5'4", a standard-height table is too low to work on for me, and I'd be very aggravated by an actual table with chairs around it to trip over in the center of my work area, and with their backs in the way of accessing the surface...I know...Farmhouses had that all the time, but we must've moved from that for a reason? ;-)

You can have an island that is styled like a work table...with open shelves underneath if it's the look you're after, but still want the proper height and an electrical outlet...Even a sink.

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 9:53PM
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My mom's kitchen has a kitchen table in the middle of it and growing up it was forever in the way. We were always pushing it around as best we could (it was a big one...big enough for all 8 of us). Even today with the leaves taken out so it seats 4, it's still in the way. But, the DR is only accessible by going down the hall and then through the LR, so not easy to use for every day meals. There is a pass through that works for food...but not people!

Based on my experiences, I would not have a table in the middle of the kitchen unless it was off to the side...but then it wouldn't be in the middle!.....:-D

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 10:58PM
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Does anyone have the magazine I mentioned? The table doesn't have chairs around it, although you could put a few on one side, out of the way of the work area.

Power and water on an island are a good point. I'm pretty sure I'm only going to have one sink in the kitchen, but on the other side of that wall is the laundry/pantry area, and there is going to be a sink there.

I'm still leaning towards a table over an island...Moccasin totally captured the feel I want to achieve in our kitchen. However, that being said, this is a fun thread, so feel free to recommend islands or tables. I'm sure other people are looking for good ideas, too :)

    Bookmark   July 16, 2010 at 11:17PM
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With all due respect to what you want for your own kitchen, a 'feel' or 'look' will lose its shine quickly if it makes the actual work less convenient, more difficult, means you have to stretch power cords across aisles, or requires you to move to an inconvenient spot to use an appliance. You also don't want physical pain because of a bad height. The look of my kitchen definitely fades into the background when I'm busily cooking and/or baking, appreciating how my kitchen works for me much more than what it looks like. There are a lot of things that seem so wonderful from a romantic standpoint that don't work for everyone in an everyday deal-with-it situation. I don't know if this advice applies to your situation and this island question. You know yourself and your household best.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 12:15AM
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We're going the table route with an L shape around it, but we're starting out with one from Ikea that's only a couple hundred dollars---that way, if it's in the way and we hate it, we haven't invested a huge amount and can sell it; if it works and we really like it, we'll figure out the ideal size and find a vintage one or have one made a few years down the road to accommodate whatever storage gaps we discover once the kitchen's in use.

I do think power and plumbing are big incentives to have a real island; in our case we weren't going to have those regardless, so it made more sense to have a table that we'll be able to move.

A flea market near us often has gorgeous vintage tables, too, which might be an option if you go that route.

Sounds like a great kitchen!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 1:16AM
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I have a large work table with a butcher block top. You CAN have electric...we have a floor outlet ! It is wonderful and has covers that flip up. I can use any appliance and no fus with plugs. I wanted an antique table but haven't yet found one that I love so I got this one from Tabco. It is really really handy. My kitchen is not BIG but I wouldn't be without a place to "turn from and to" while cooking. The prep space is just too convenient. The double plugs are right by the left front leg. Has a a brass cover on each one. I leave the Food processor plugged in and it is completely out of the way, just lift it up and get to work. Here are 2 pics :

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:05AM
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One suggestion I have for anyone contemplating a kitchen table w/seating in the middle of the sure you have sufficient aisle width b/w the edge of the counter and the edge of the least 60". That's the problem w/my mother's kitchen...there's only about 42" b/w the table & counter. This means even when no one is sitting at the table and the chairs are pushed in as far as possible under the table, there's only, at most, a 36" aisle...not wide enough for a kitchen w/several people working in it. One person, OK. However, my mom frequently has family over and it's a trial sometimes for those who are cooking or later cleaning up.

If you think about it, you need a minimum of 32" for the seating & 36" for the work aisle...add those together and you get 68". Figure a few inches of overlap is acceptable, and you're down to 60"

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:11AM
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You can raise a standard-height table as much as several inches by adding heavy duty lockable casters to the legs. That should get you close to standard counter height, and get you mobility if you want it. This assumes the legs are substantial enough that casters will look okay and have a surface to mount on.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 4:38AM
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I've posted this photo before but not recently. I do not know its source; I just have it as an inspiration photo. This, to me, looks like a cross between an island and a table.

Somewhere I saw an island that looked like a table where electrical was run up through a hollowed-out chunky leg. I'm not sure you could do plumbing that way, but maybe you could.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:51AM
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A floor outlet sounds brilliant but is it safe in a kitchen? Do you worry about spills? What about when you wash the floor? Is it waterproof?

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 7:19AM
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Dear lavendar lass, If you have yourself covered on electrical outlets and water elsewhere in your kitchen, a free standing work table or counter height moveable "island" may be fine. As you say, something like this is essential for directing traffic away from your main prep area and it sounds like you have a little two-seat eat in area elsewhere in your kitchen. I have seen old tables like the one in Arlosmom's photo wired for electricity through on of the legs. Have you posted a floorplan or sketch? This might help us all visualize and offer more specific advice.

By the way, Arlosmom, can I just chime in and say that the picture you posted is also one of my top five dream, inspiration kitchens? The colors are so warm and I love the work table. (Let's forget the less practical elements like the cute, but useless, little wall fan/vent.)

An aside, Buehl, thanks for the 60" rule for distance counter edge to table edge. I had been looking for information about this recommended distance.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 7:54AM
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arlosmom's photo is indeed fabulous. What makes it beautiful for me is the windows, the light colors, and the suggestion of people (instead of one lonely cook). I can just feel the breeze coming in through the open windows and hear conversation and laughter. LOL Powerful kitchen, indeed, I'm typically as unpoetic as anyone can get.

My point is that maybe you want an inviting place for gathering and if so you can put the table a bit off to the side, but still in the kitchen so that you can have the gathering and not affect functioning.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 8:47AM
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We did a sort of island table and love it. We have a very small kitchen and wanted extra landing space as well as a place for 4 to eat. Because of the tight parameters, I built it to the exact size we needed using components from (no, I don't work for them). I had a local carpenter make the top. Our space is small, so I ordered a daintier leg, but you can go as chunky as you like. I did a shelf running along the bottom. We keep baskets there to store potatoes, etc.
I keep my marble slab out always and use it not just for pastry, but also as a place for putting hot pots, etc.

These (obviously not staged) photos are not my favourite of the kitchen, but give you an idea - please ignore the mess (taken post dinner party for some reason.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 9:35AM
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Arlosmom's inspiration pic was what I had in mind when I said you could have an island with a table appearance and open shelves, etc.

The floor outlet sounded like a great answer at first, but then I realized that most (all?) of my small kitchen appliances that I could ever want to use there (bread mixer, grain mill, food processor, blender, waffle irons,...) have cords way too short to reach the floor. Trailrunner, this isn't a problem for you? I suppose you could attach a small extension cord to the work table, but it wouldn't be my favorite solution.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 12:51PM
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My plan is to do an L-shaped kitchen, the refrigerator on one end, then the sink, DW on the right, corner (with a big ceramic cookie jar, for those who never know what to put in the corner LOL) then the stove with a wall oven/microwave on the other end. There is plenty of space so there should be 3' on either side of the stove.

I am not a fancy cook, but I do love to bake cookies, muffins and pies! Lately, muffins have been my favorite. I don't care for bread machines and mixers (except for the hand mixer I use to make frosting) so I don't need a lot of outlets. When I do use something that plugs in, I'll have room on the countertop, between the stove and wall oven.

One double sink is plenty of space...I like double sinks because I still wash my china by hand. The table would be more for extra prep space than anything else, but it would be fun to have a few stools for the nieces and nephews on the side opposite the cooking area. That way they could help with cookies, etc. and still be at table height, which seems much safer for little ones.

The eating area I have planned fits into the corner windows in the now dining room (opposite the sink wall) and has a corner banquette, antique pedestal table and two chairs. I'd like to put the woodstove in the opposite corner. Across from the cooking area is an old porch that I would love to salvage and put a little seating area, but keep the multi-paned porch windows (at least the style, but maybe updated a bit for energy efficiency). It doesn't have to be top of the line, in fact, I'd prefer something more along the lines of the "unfashionable kitchen" post on this page. (LOL) Love those blue tiles!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:06PM
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Forgot to mention...thanks for the beautiful photos to show examples. Everyone's kitchen is so pretty. Daisychain- I love your table!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:22PM
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rhome: nope not a problem as my food processor is one of the very first Cuisinarts that was has a long cord. I don't use any other appliance on my prep island. All others are used on the long soapstone baking area or else by the cooktop which has outlets, so for me it works great.

I first saw that pic that Arlosmom posted and immediately emailed her and begged to know where/what/how to get that luck. It is what I wanted. Have had no luck getting someone to make one either. Will just hope that one day I stumble across the perfect piece. c

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 2:39PM
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It is what I wanted. Have had no luck getting someone to make one either.

This is when I go give a big hug and kiss to my cabinet-making husband who says, "You draw it, and I'll build it." :-) Of course, when then becomes the question. ;-) I hear I might get shelves for my dish hutch today, and for a couple cabinets that have been in use for 2 1/2 years... YAY!

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 3:20PM
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Well if you are offering , I may try giving YOUR DH a big hug and kiss LOL, since my DH doesn't do cabinet making ! He can make you some pasta though :) c

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 5:34PM
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He's never done a job for pasta before! ;-) Besides the the kitchen itself, about the only thing my dh makes in there are sandwiches and oatmeal. He does like my new oat flaker/roller though, and will 'roll his own.' I'd say pasta makers and cabinet makers are both good catches. I doubt there are many out there who can accomplish both.

    Bookmark   July 17, 2010 at 6:25PM
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