Farm table instead of island?

home4all6September 23, 2011

Hi everyone! As I continue my kitchen dreaming and planning, I have lately been leaning towards a big, old wooden table in the center of my kitchen rather than an island. I've found loads of photos of such, and remember it fondly from my grandmother's kitchen growing up, but I'd like input from people who have this. Or if no one has it, why not?

I understand that islands are counter-height, which is much better for prepwork, etc. But I don't like the feeling of sitting around an island. A stool is ok for brief pop-in moments, but not for comfy, hang-out in the kitchen time. I also understand that an island gives you extra storage, but any reno I'd do would give me much more useful storage than I have now, so that's not so much of an issue for me either.

I really want an eat-in kitchen, as my kitchen is very removed from the family room space in our house. I thought I wanted a banquette in one corner, but we have created a modified one, with a rectangle table and bench on one side, 4 chairs around the other sides, and I kind of HATE cleaning up on the bench, under the table, etc. It is so hard to get to, and I have to do a TON of cleaning up after my 4 young children. I'm now thinking that built-in banquette idea would be awful to clean around.

So, I'm thinking a big L of cabinets, lots of counter space for prep, and then a nice, worn, warm, comfy farm table in the middle of the room. I'd have seating for 6, which could be homework space, crafting space, cooking and baking space, etc. And it'd much more comfy thatn trying to seat 6 around an island, which just doesn't seem inviting, no matter how I try to imagine it.

Kind of like this:

or this:

or even this:

So, what do you say, GWers???

Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I say I LOVE it! is that actuaklly your kitchen? Its fantastic!

I love the farm table idea. Very chic!

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:05PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Wow, I completely understand what you're talking about, since I've considered the same thing. This is what I was told...make sure you have plenty of room to move around the table, when people are sitting there. Realize that table height is not counter cookies cooling are great, or even prepping while sitting down, but it will be too low to comfortably stand and work there.

Do you have a separate dining room? If not, you may need space to add leaves, for larger dinners/holidays. If you have a window near the table that's nice, too. Another's easier for small children and older people (or those of us, who don't always want to perch) to use chairs over stools :)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it would be absolutely wonderful. In fact, that is what I want in my kitchen. We're building and getting to the point where I am actively seeking out cabinet makers.

The "problem" is I have decided against very many upper cabinets and put windows looking over our property instead (which I love). I can't reach uppers very well anyway.

This doesn't give me a whole lot of convenient storage in my kitchen, but I have lots of counter space potential, even without an island. An island would give me storage but I'm not sure (after lusting for one for many years) that I actually want that boxy thing in there. We would still have a wooden kitchen farm table, but skewed over towards the great room. I am having major second thoughts about having an island.

I have plenty of storage potential with my pantry room and a nice country style storage unit on a wall directly across from the main kitchen area. My mind says it might be inconvenient, but in reality it's only 12 feet or so. My basic work triangle is set up correctly within the kitchen area as far as fridge, sink and range go.I just might have to run a bit for something that I want to use that wouldn't fit in the base cabinets.

I'm with you. I like the homey feel of the table in the kitchen, and my husband and I would never, ever sit at an island. Maybe I should hold off on the island for the time being. It can always be added later.

Im enjoying your inspiration pictures. My kitchen is actually an L shape similar to your second photo, including the shorter leg of the "L" next to an 8 ft. gliding french door.

Maybe you and I should just go for it!


    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:10PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it is a great look, and if it what is most functional for the way you live, then go for it.

The only thing is to make sure that you have plenty of clearance between the table and the counters so that when someone is sitting at the table, there is enough room to comfortably move or work behind them at the counter. Chair backs add a few extra inches of space behind them versus a stool (not to mention the kids who like to sit on the very edge of their chair while working and push the chair back behind them)

Check for clearance with things like fridge doors, oven doors, dishwashers, etc - I think in that first picture that the dishwasher door would run into the chair if someone were sitting at the table.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:21PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I really use my island for prep work, and wouldn't want to not have it. A table would be too low for most of what I use it for. I like not being confined by the back wall and upper cabinets like the perimiter counters. However, we do have a table in the kitchen also, and I wouldn't want to lose that either. We considered having a two-level island, but decided against it due to the cost of the stone we would have installed. For some reason, we never thought of using wood for the table portion, which would maybe have changed what we ended up with.

You might consider something like this:

tropical kitchen design by hawaii interior designer Archipelago Hawaii, refined island designs

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:22PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Here are a few more pictures :) From Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures]( From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](
    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think it's a romantic idea that can look so appealing. But, I agree with AnnaC54 that the height would be a problem for working and I really love my island for prep and wouldn't want to be without it. I like the idea of what she showed in her photo.

You asked why we might decide against the farm table in the middle of the kitchen idea: The real problem for me with the kitchens in the photos you shared is the chairs. Empty or full they'd constantly be in my way, making the table only good for eating/sitting space and not for a work surface...unless you want to move the chairs out of the way all the time...which I wouldn't.

I like my workspace and my seating spaces separated. We also have a small table in the kitchen (we eat dinner in the dining room where the table is large enough for all of us at once), but not in my work area, and not in place of the prep island. But that's what works for me... maybe not you.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

First of all, thanks for the positive feedback. No, none of those are my kitchen--like I said, this is all still planning and dreaming :)

My room is pretty big, 12.5" x 17" so with an L of cabinetry, I think the table would have enough room--far more room than it has now. And I could go with more than an L if I wanted to also.

I know there is a lot to consider. I also think it's something that can be done and changed later without too much trouble, as we could do an unfitted island if we decided we didn't like the center table. I also plan on having some nice big windows out to the backyard, so working at the perimeter counters wouldn't mean staring at a big old wall.

I do have an island now, and I do use it all the time, but I have no prep space between my stove and sink area, so the island is my go-to spot. With a well-planned kitchen layout, I think I could live without the all-important island.

I was considering something like this, but it just seems too cluttery to me, whereas the table alone would feel much more open:

Also, the chairs in my first pic are too tall--I'd need something with a lower back like the other pics.

Ah, dreaming and planning...all I Can do right now...

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 3:34PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

AnnaC54 that's pretty much what my original configuration was going to be but it isn't feeling quite right to me the more I see how our house is evolving during our build.

After seeing home4all6's inspiration photos I'm seriously rethinking not having a big clunker in the midst of my kitchen.

We asked all of our children, now all grown, what their favorite kitchen was between the house they grew up in, which had a huge wooden farm table smack dab in the middle of it, and the one we built after that (and sold two years ago). Hands down they all said the kitchen with the table in it.

An island can always be added if desired, but surely would be a costly mistake if not liked. I agree that to prep food with uppers in the way is awful, but if one has windows to look out of and no uppers it would be where I would prefer prepping, provided the counter run was adequate to comfortably prep at.

Please don't think that I am putting down islands. I am not. It depends on the cook, and it depends on any limitations within the kitchen. it also depends on whether someone likes a more formal look or a more relaxed layed back feel.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:07PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am way too tired on a Friday afternoon to do math, but:

From your 12' kitchen width, deduct 2' for the counters then 4' for the aisles, plus or minus. That leaves you with 6' for fully-extended chair with a butt in it, table width, then second fully-extended chair.

Your space isn't as ample as you might think.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:11PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I forgot to add that in the kitchen where the table was in the kitchen, I cooked huge scratch meals for our five children and my husband. I also canned and froze most of our food. That kitchen was smaller than the one we are building now. I had a huge window looking out over a hillside and no uppers in my prep areas. I managed with less fancy cookware than I currently have now, which makes me think I've gone overboard with it and should pare down. It was a very pretty and functional kitchen. A basic country kitchen. I rolled out many an apple pie on that table. I peeled my peaches for canning while sitting there talking to my girls.

The new fangled kitchen in the house we sold was beautiful to look at and had all the latest and greatest materials, but I never wanted to cook in there. My table was technically in the kitchen but had a detatched feel because it was placed at the end of the kitchen. Being near a window didn't help with the feel of where my table sat. It was "detatched".

That kitchen was what "everybody" wanted. We ate out a lot and became less healthy for it. It helped sell our house quickly but to me it lacked soul.

Again. I'm not putting anyone down.

Lavender lass, that second photo depicts that nice farm, "ahhhh" put your feet up feel that I like. People would linger over tea or lemonaid because they feel happy in there.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:24PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I love the look of a table in the middle of a kitchen, but would worry about the chairs getting in the way. I couldn't endorse it without seeing the layout of the room plus the rooms surrounding it, but here's another inspiration pic that's been sitting in my files.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 4:59PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Looks like a lot of us are in the same boat. We yearn for that comfy feeling of having our tables in our kitchen, but worry about space and storage issues. Not to mention the marketing brainwashing we have all been subjected to over the years.

The chairs aren't a problem if the spacing is adequate for the table. However, a chair does ned to be moved when using it for prep. Unless sitting down while doing it, of caorse. Plenty of unobstructed counter space can solve many prep space issues though.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 5:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

All good points.
Maybe a bench on the cabinet side, to avoid chair issues? Bench could just slide under the table when not in use.

Laxsupermom, I love that photo, too. It's now added to my files--thanks!

So here's my general floorplan, I just quickly made an L-run of cabinets/appliances, and threw in the table, to try it out.

Still under consideration. Like I keep saying, these are still far-off dreams right now--nothing in the works for a good long while :)

Does anyone have a kitchen like this, today, that they LIKE?

This is the table and chairs that we currently own. All 6 of us eat at this table, 4 chairs and a bench on one long side of the rectangle. It's dimensions are 60"L x 36"W x 30"H. Works perfectly for us. I'd be happy reusing it.

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 6:19PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

The only problem I see is that your sink is not close to the fridge (I'm guessing the windows are already there?) and you'll probably be doing more walking around, than if it were closer to the fridge. I think I'd also put the dishwasher on the other side of the sink. It's going to be too close to the table and in the way, for your prep between sink and range.

While I like the idea of a kitchen table, I don't know it yours will be blocking too much flow...into the kitchen, around the work area and out to the deck.

Does this mean you've decided not to add on to the kitchen? A little more space would make things much eaiser. As it is now, I'd be tempted to add an island with a little prep sink, across from the range...closer to the fridge. If you really like the table idea, maybe slide the fridge down (smaller pantry?) and give yourself a little more prep room, between the fridge and range. Can you switch the sink and range? Just an idea :)

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 6:53PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

aaah, Lavender_Lass, this doesn't mean a THING! I am still considering ALL options while I cart my kiddos to and fro and chase my 2 year old twins around my house and home. A Girl's gotta have something to daydream about, and goodness knows I spend enough time in my kitchen, I am always trying to solve my problems in there, so when the time comes...well, you know the rest! Like many of you, kitchen are my...obsession?

I just really, really don't want to add on--I have a house that's too big already for me to keep clean--I can't have more! It's just hard for me to imagine that a kitchen this big--and it IS big compared to many--and I still can't figure out to get all that I want in it.

Maybe if the corner was the work area--prep zone? The window are all current locations, but need to be replaced anyway, so they are not set in stone. I just know I need some windows out to the backyard....but would a corner prep zone be more useful?

I guess I still don't understand it--can't a kitchen be highly-functioning without an island work space? Just leave it out pf the equation? And then throw in a table for seating instead?

    Bookmark   September 23, 2011 at 9:09PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sure it can...I guess what has me confused is that you said the kitchen is 12'6", but the diagram says about 11'2". That's a loss of 16" which would come in handy, with the table and chairs. Is it really only 2'8" between the sink and table? That's going to be pretty tight.

This is just me, but if you can move the windows, I'd think about having the fridge closest to the patio doors (where the sink area is now) with the sink where the range is, and the range where the fridge is. Basically, the range would be more isolated from traffic, you'd have a corner prep area and the fridge would be easier to access. You need more space to get out the patio doors and reach the fridge...and even grab a glass of water at the sink, but the kids don't need to be going over to the range. Just my two cents...

Where did you end up having your mudroom area? Is that going to be some hooks, on the landing of the stairs? Maybe even a few hooks on the powder room wall, next to the door? Easy to stash coats, before going to the side exit or out to the deck :)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 12:29AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

home4all6, I have a peninsula in my current "before" kitchen that creates a 33" wide high-traffic walkway, and that is the whole motivation for my renovation - it's too narrow and is a big pain in the neck as a result. And my 33" aisle isn't even in such a highly used area as yours would be, with the sink, dishwasher, and range right there. Consider opening the dishwasher - the door will block that aisle completely.

I like the idea of a table in the kitchen instead of an island if you have sufficient counter space elsewhere, but if I had your space, I would only consider it with a much narrower table.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 12:30AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Home- I just realized that your first and third pictures show a similar layout...with the range on one wall and the sink on the next, with the corner prep zone. Kind of mirror reverse of what I was describing. It gives you a lot of work area on both sides of the range and a corner prep space, between the range and sink. It also keeps people from walking in front of the range, to reach the table or fridge. What do you think? :)

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 12:46AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

My table is in the middle of my kitchen and I like it a lot. I have plenty of other counter space and basically use the table put stuff I am going to use. For instance, I will lay out the bowls or other items there and grab them as I need them. I also put the serving dishes there waiting to be filled. I do usually move one chair to the side, although I also often just reach over it.

I like islands, too and I guess having both would be ideal if you have the room, which I don't. I don't like sitting on those high stools. My elderly mother comes over often and could not climb onto one of those. They're not so good for toddlers, either.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:26AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

home4all6 - I love the table that you posted - it's from World Market, right? If so there is just one other issue to consider: I'm considering getting the same table and chairs for my breakfast room, but I noticed that the chairs don't fit all the way underneath the table. In other words, I'm not sure you can push them in all the way, which means you'd have even less space between the table and your counters. I totally get your dilemma though; I've been putting off what should be a no-nonsense renovation of a small galley kitchen because I keep going back on forth over a table vs. some kind of peninsula/island in our breakfast room.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 10:42AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I have kinda an L shaped kitchen with a table, not an island. My DH and I went back and forth regarding an Island. One thing I wanted was to sit around the kitchen table with my family (4 kids) and look at each other while we were eating and conversing. I did not want bar style seated side by side. My kitchen is 19' x 11'. It was too narrow for a proper island. So my next thought was to have a counter height table where I could prep at counter height and still have us seated around the table. My children are older and could handle the bar height. Ultimately, we decided to tweak the few areas ( prep zone and move the refriderator) and keep the kitchen table. I absolutely love my kitchen. It is efficient and is working great for our family. I measured the space around the table . It is approx 33" from table to counter and 33' from table to wall. It is a little less towards the peninsula and window.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 11:40AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I think you have plenty of prep space on your counters. The only question to me would be the size of your table and seating.
I like the idea of a bench or backless chairs/stools on the prep side of the table.
I also think a narrower table could work because since you are already in the kitchen, you can use your counters nearby for any overflow from the table. If you could even make a long table, you might try for one person to sit on the cab side of the table and the others at the ends and other side. My only other concern would be to make the fridge not open by a chair at the end.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 2:41PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I am short and a big old work table at table height would be perfect for me to work at. If my kit were large enough I would definitely do one.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 3:47PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

I should have clarified narrower in width, not length.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 3:52PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Sorry to be a Debbie Downer but your kitchen isn't large enough to achieve this look and be functional, IMO. I'm with dee850, I'd only consider this with a narrower table but even that has issues.

Your plan calls for 2'8" between table/chairs and counter, which is less than NKBA's minimum of 36" for squeeze behind diners space, and it's much less than the recommended 44" for walk behind space. Plus you've got major appliances opening into that same space. An open DW or range door will completely block the aisle. My open DW door extends 26.25" into the aisle. That would give you 6" to spare, provided your DW door doesn't extend farther than mine does. Anyone sitting there when you need to access the DW will need to get up and move. I'd find that tedious.

I don't think you have space for a table wider than 30". That would give you 39" aisles, which is better, but you still run the risk of open appliance doors blocking the aisle and asking anyone seated at the table to move. I pulled up a chair in my 39" aisle between island and DW, pretending that I was at a table. I could not open the DW door when the chair was placed at what is for me a comfortable distance from the "table" - and I'm not a large person. The unfortunate part is that a 30" wide table is too narrow to comfortably seat people on both sides - not enough leg or table room. Would you be willing to seat people only on the ends and along the side closest to the wall, like this?

mediterranean entry design by san francisco architect Tali Hardonag Architect

This is doable, IMO, and would still give the impression of the farm table atmosphere you crave.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2011 at 5:31PM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

Home- Lisa posted this and I thought of you, when I saw all the tables, in the kitchens. Here's one and the link will take you to more pictures :)

From [Lavender Lass farmhouse pictures](

Here is a link that might be useful: Link to post

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 11:04AM
Thank you for reporting this comment. Undo

One way I found to answer the: How much storage do I need? question, was to take the computer generated 3-d illustration of my kitchen plan, and write down what was going in each cab. I actually eliminated a couple of uppers this way. As I came around the last corner, I realized that I had run out of things that needed a home. This does not address the floor space/ambiance/prep issues, but at least it may bring the storage problem into greater focus.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2011 at 12:51PM
Sign Up to comment
More Discussions
Sexist or Fun?
Trouble from young feminists over this billboard.
Joseph Corlett, LLC
scrappy25 renovation Part 4, final reveal, white inset/soapstone
Finally got some "completed" pictures, please...
Feedback on revised kitchen layout
Hello again! After receiving some great feedback for...
Prep sink location
After a lot of talking on another thread, I took sena01...
Jennifer Weinman
Where to sell zinc countertop??
Help! A dramatic error has resulted in my ownership...
Sponsored Products
Illumine Lamps Designer Collection 2 Light 29.5 in. Bronze Table Lamp with
Home Depot
Olive Green Circle Rings Apothecary Table Lamp
Lamps Plus
Palermo 5-pc. Bar Set in Bronze Finish, Patio Furniture
Scorpion Porcelain Ring Holder
$49.99 | Dot & Bo
Fabbian | Ray LED Table Lamp
$996.30 | YLighting
Provence red linen napkins (set of four)
Origin Crafts
Omega Coffee Table in White
$399.00 | LexMod
Square Footed Cake Plate
Classic Hostess
© 2015 Houzz Inc. Houzz® The new way to design your home™