I’m caught in a three-way love affair with “all things vintage” and “all things practical”. “Form” beat “function” for years pre-children, but these days (and especially since I’ve become a massive homebody) the competition is more like an all-day track meet – lots of races and decisions all day long, yielding different winners per event. Generally speaking, “high-quality old things” just don’t work as well as “high-quality new things” (obviously there are exceptions) not because of their age and craftsmanship (opposite) but because of their often modern lack of conveniences. I write this as I sit on my favorite chairs ever (vintage Cherner) that squeak and creak endlessly (we’ve had them “fixed” and this is the best they can do). It’s all good, but it drives Brian nuts and I try to pretend I don’t notice, but I 100% do.
I wrote about my desire to repurpose a vintage piece as an island here and most of you agreed with me – that for harder working spaces (kitchens/mud rooms) just do what is going to be the most functional and makes your day to day easier, and then layer on the vintage in accessories and bring in vintage furniture in less utilitarian spaces. Feels like a good solution. Great. But I couldn’t shake it. I really, really don’t want this house to look fancy or grand, but it’s basically a new build at this point so I’ve got to inject charm to create the vibe that we want (casual, warm, inviting with a simple farm vibe). So Britney from Aurora Mills sent me a new piece she just got in and I gasped. I shoved the phone in Brian’s face and texted it to Anne immediately we all agreed. This was our island. We all knew we would be sacrificing some practicality, but we all agreed it would be worth it.
Visually, It’s PERFECT
We aren’t sure exactly what it was used for, maybe a library or baker’s kitchen. It has simple lines with 6 larger drawers and very little decorative detail (aka not fussy, overly ornate, or too shabby chic). There is nothing TRY HARD about this piece, which was a concern of mine when you repurpose say, an old apothecary piece as a vintage island. This one just feels like a solid, utilitarian, beautifully made piece of furniture that has been loved for a century and cared for carefully. We aren’t sure about the species of wood and it definitely leans a bit red, but not orange and we actually love the tone and are happy its not white oak, matching the floor. We put it next to our flooring sample (I can’t wait to tell you who we are working with on that) and we love the mix of the woods VERY MUCH.
Size-Wise, It’s Perfect
It’s the perfect size (110″ long, 36″ high, and 30″ deep) so with a 15-18″ overhang we can have stools on the backside. We’ll add a stone slab top over the entire thing and hold it up with pretty brackets. The back of it is lovely with simple paneling that you’d see from the living room.
Practically Speaking, It’s… Good, But Not Great
Ok so we have 6 drawers and they are wide and deep – 27″ wide, 27″ deep, and 7″ high. They can definitely house even mixing bowls or small appliances like our ninja. They are well made, but with the expansion of real wood (and no other hardware) some stick when pulling out and shoving in. Versatile can easily fix this, they said. The other 3 drawers that function well are still heavy and not what we are used to these days – drawers on tracks with quiet close. So these will definitely hold the lesser-used items.
Do We Need A Prep Sink??
I’ve never had a prep sink before and I wasn’t convinced it was necessary till recently. Anne was trying to convince me of the double kitchen sink (one sink, two compartments) because she hates washing vegetables over dirty dishes, so she uses one for food prep and the other for dirty dishes. Literally, that night as I was washing my veggies over my dirty dishes (single basin) I was like, “yes, this is actually disgusting” and then all of a sudden I realized the benefit of the prep sink. At the same time I was excited to have an island with neither a sink or a cooktop – just food prep, homework, hanging, with no splashing on kids’ drawings or hot surfaces. But this island is LONG and we could definitely put a small prep sink on one end (left, near fridge) and still have a long expanse of workspace. Now this means we would lose function of two of those drawers and you’d see the pipes going through the piece into the floor – but those aren’t deal-breakers, just good to know. I’m going to leak a photo from the upcoming book because it demonstrates this really well although they didn’t put a stone on top, just a small slab with a lip over the custom-built piece (not vintage, but super similar).
Brian doesn’t prep veggies nearly as much as I do so he doesn’t totally get it, but with the amount of fruit and veggies we go through and how not on top of the dishes we tend to be, having one sink that is just for food seems like a good idea. Also, I was just at the farm and there are so many groves of trees – plums, pears, apples, cherries, and so many blackberries – and while we’ll have the dog washing station as our utility sink, I think we’ll be busy in the summer washing fresh fruit more than we ever have (I literally had a dream of jam making two nights ago).
I think I’ve just convinced myself, but let’s convince Brian. I would forego a pot filler in a second (but likely will still have one). They are just so pretty but no, not as necessary as you’d think (we use broth for our soups, not water…), but this prep sink is feeling more and more like a good idea and built into this vintage piece sounds so pretty. xx