Islands in the Dream

23 Feb

When we first moved to our home in 2000, the kitchen island trend was new. Not that kitchen islands were new. Those have been popular for decades now and of course most kitchens constructed since the 1980s have incorporated this functional counter into the “open plan” kitchen design. But for those of us trying to live an early 2000s life in a 1950s home, the kitchen island poses a problem.

I knew we had room for one. Our kitchen is decent size (not galley but pretty narrow) and MM’s family used it as an eat-in with a long, picnic-style table along the blank wall. I didn’t love that and we certainly didn’t need the big table (at that time there were no littles in our life) but I measured and determined we had room for a narrow island and a couple of chairs.

And while kitchen islands were popular, buying one “off the rack,” as a separate piece of furniture, was not. Now I see them everywhere—Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, that Sonoma wine catalog, but back then, not so much. Actually, I did find one. It was at a chic little kitchen boutique in town (and it was red, which I loved) but it was $1700 and that was about $1200 more than I wanted to spend. Thus began my search for a vintage piece that I could turn into a kitchen island.

What I found was this. I wish I knew the original function of this piece of furniture. I love its little doors and fun glass inserts. The bottom shelf makes a perfect storage spot for our collection of not-often-used cookbooks, and the wood was a nice contrast to our cream-painted cabinets.

The next challenge was the top. I needed something sanitary for eating and big enough for leg room and to push chairs under. What we settled on was a stainless steel top. I like the juxtaposition of the new shiny stainless finish with the vintage wood and feel of the piece. Plus it was really cheap. I bought inch-thick MDF and had it cut to size at Lowe’s (for probably $20—it was a long time ago, so I don’t totally remember) then found a metal shop in town that was able to top it and seal the sides with stainless steel for $85 (that I remember).

But I’ve got to be honest, stainless steel is a bitch to keep clean. Add two macaroni-and-cheese-loving, napkin-hating littles to the mix, and the thing looks decent about every two weeks (for the two hours between when our cleaning lady cleans and the kids have their next meal). But I do my best. I wipe it down two or three times a day, each time dreaming of the kitchen renovation to come—the big one where I tear down walls, pick a fingerprint-hiding countertop surface, and get those sweet self-closing drawers.


One Response to “Islands in the Dream”

  1. Tracy March 8, 2011 at 11:11 am #

    love the island. you really do a great job with this house!!! Want to help with my kitchen?

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