Islands instead of Tables

Islands instead of Tables

Today’s house interior designs look vastly different than in past decades. This past year I listed a house built in 1905. The seller was a widow and she had been in the house for 60 years. Her and her husband had raised their family there. The kitchen was a large old style country kitchen with a big table in the middle, with the built-in cupboards all around 3 walls. There room was so large you could access the counters and cupboards even if the whole family was seated at the table. The table also served as extra working space to knead bread or cool fresh baked cookies.

I sat around this table with the lady’s children and listened to stories of their years growing up in the house. Their mom, who was now in a care home, had never learned to read or write. She signed her name with an “X”. Their parents had never owned a car. They walked or took the bus. They had a vegetable garden for fresh food. The boys played hockey in the basement. The basement later became the place for hobbies and many hours of enjoyment with model trains and carved wooden ships.

But the focal point of the family activities was always the kitchen table. While mom worked at baking, cooking, canning, or whatever she was taking on that day she would always be able to chat and listen to her children as they came in for a snack or to ask a question, or just to sit and watch her. Many life lessons were learned at that table. Meals were always at the kitchen table, together as a family. Games were played at the kitchen table as a family or with friends. There was no shortage of love or laughter in the home. It made me think back to my own childhood and the many things that happened at our kitchen table.

I sold the house to a young couple who, of course, were excited to renovate and create a nice new kitchen…a kitchen with an island. Islands in kitchens are often expected as part of design these days. They provide extra working space, shelves, storage and sometimes even a cook top is in the island. You can use the island as a breakfast bar or many other things. Most people nowadays have an island in the kitchen and no table. Some kitchens I have been in are beautiful and they gleam with efficiency. However, I sometimes wonder if we haven’t lost more than just a table. Is the kitchen still a hub of family activity? Do we still spend that quality time together, learning new things, and feeling the love for our family? It may not be your kitchen, but every home needs a room that holds the essence of a “kitchen table”. A place that will last forever as the centerpiece for our memories of home and the people we love.

by Cheri Crause

originally published on

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