A Kitchen Manifesto (Part 3)

You can read Part 1 and Part 2 here. They’re worth reading. Trust me.

The Missing Piece

When you delve in to the world of antiques, you will quickly find that there are a multitude of tables. More tables than I ever thought possible.

There are accent tables. Tea tables. Breakfast tables. Parlor tables. Hall tables. Kitchen tables. Dining tables. Five legged tables. Drop leaf tables. Wall mounted tables. And so many more.

If you recall, the very first step in designing this kitchen is to lay out everything I wanted to be able to do. Step 1: Define the Kitchen Needs First.

I thought I had everything I needed. And I was able to use pieces I already had and loved.


But. There was a nagging, worrisome doubt in the back of my head. I knew something was missing. As I read through both The Efficient Kitchen and An Ideal Kitchen, I realized exactly what my kitchen design lacked.

Both of these books made a point to designate an overflow work space. This could be in the form of a movable table, a drop down wall mounted table, an extra shelf, or some other feature. The extra work space is not used all the time, but is available when you absolutely need it most. Cooling bread, buffeting a meal, dropping groceries as you bring them in, a special project such as canning or making a holiday dinner. All of these activities are out of the everyday realm of kitchen function. But the design plan absolutely must accommodate them.

Now I do have a table with drop leaf ends already.

Sad, sad state of the kitchen when we moved in. Bleh. Horrible.

Sad, sad state of the kitchen when we moved in. Bleh. Horrible.

I had been on the hunt for a kitchen table. A five legged kitchen table to be exact. I grew up eating meals on my mother’s two five-legged tables and absolutely wanted one of my own. After several years of searching I finally found one (for a mere $175. Pinch me). I believe the wood is cherry, and it miraculously came with all three of its leaves.

Kitchen Table as found

It was a little broken and a little wobbly, but we fixed it up. It’s been the most perfectly enormous kitchen table ever since.

Furniture repair specialist working his magic. Helped by Brandon.

Furniture repair specialist working his magic. Helped by Brandon.

When we moved in to this house, I knew the table would stay in the kitchen. The kitchen is large enough to accommodate the enormous 40”x90” piece and plenty of chairs with it. For a while, I thought that would be my overflow space. That only makes sense right? An enormous table in the kitchen would serve very well as the drop zone.

Kitchen table in current house. Before I destroyed the whole room. Whoops.

Kitchen table in current house. Before I destroyed the whole room. Whoops.

Except…it still bothered me. Using the kitchen table as a primary work space is oftentimes awkward since you are working around chairs. The table does have drop leaves on both ends, but I prefer to leave them up and put a chair underneath for Brandon since he’s so tall. He likes the leg clearance. And this doesn’t solve the problem of what to do when you need both a fully set table AND overflow workspace. Hmm. Hmmmmm.

So I got to thinking. And reading. And thinking some more. Over and over I read Mrs. Child and Mrs. Parola talking about the importance of work tables. Mrs. Parola even went so far as to recommend putting a drop leaf table under a window for extra work surface when needed. Being drop leaf, it could be stored away when not in use leaving the space clear and accessible.

Oh. That’s…something. There was something here…it started to crystallize in my brain. A table…an extra work table…something that was movable…and also expandable…what if…what if it was…


In all of fifteen seconds, the entire kitchen design slid in to place. Everything worked. The pantry. The sink. The stove. The dish storage. The counters. The settee. The kitchen table. ALL OF IT. It all worked provided I could find this one missing piece. The keystone of this historic kitchen design.

I have seen a lot of tables. A LOT. And I love them all. But of all the antique tables I have seen, there was one that I had not yet considered. One that I had occasionally seen, often coveted, but never purchased.

Allow me to introduce…The Harvest Table.

NOT MY TABLE. Just hold on.    Image here.

NOT MY TABLE. Just hold on. Image here.



ALSO. NOT. MINE.    Image here.

ALSO. NOT. MINE. Image here.

As far as I can tell, harvest tables were used for exactly what the name suggests. They provided extra large work areas for preserving and processing the harvest food.

Some of them are just absolutely ENORMOUS long skinny work tables. These are ideal for many people working at once. Can’t you just imagine fifteen or twenty people shucking corn around this?

As much as I love these big tables, I was really after more versatility and flexibility in my kitchen design. This offers a ton of counter space, but it’s all static counter. There are no real options to expand the space.

The other type of harvest table is a drop leaf harvest table. THIS is was what I realized my kitchen needed. A long, narrow, drop leaf harvest table.

These tables are still relatively skinny, but they have the added feature of having drop leaves on one or both sides. The table can effectively double your work area when you need it to. But when you don’t, it only takes up half the space. BRILLIANT.

I have seen tables like this and even smaller ones at antique stores dozens of time. They’re never very expensive. And I always want them. But I never bought one. Why? Because all I could think was “Dining Table” and with those narrow ends, these would make pretty bad dining tables.

Well Paige, you know why they make bad dining tables? Because they AREN’T dining tables. You know what they’re great for? WORK TABLES. IT’S A WORK TABLE.

Now I know what you’re thinking.

“Paige, you silly goose. That’s just an island. But instead, it’s a table. Why wouldn’t you just do an island? More storage! More counter space! More more!”


No Island For Paige

Rule number one in life: know thyself. I’m messy by nature. Flat surfaces are just an opportunity for clutter. A drop leaf table means that 95% of the time, the counter space will not be available for me to clutter up. Therefore it will not be cluttered. But when I do need it, pop the leaves up, and I just effectively doubled my working space. Could this be any more GENIUS?

Additionally I know that I LOVE rearranging my rooms. Love it. Like there is nothing better than waking up on a weekend and moving things around my house so that they are all in spectacularly different locations by lunch. By having a freestanding table, I have the opportunity to change up my kitchen layout any time I want. WOO HOO. GO ME.



Ok. So I know I need a drop leaf harvest table. Now I just have to find one.

And BOY did I find a winner. Coming up in Part 4.

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