I fell in love with my kitchen (and the old pre-Civil War house that came with it) as soon as I set eyes on it. It’s painted a salmon pink, advantageously positioned east to catch the morning’s rays, and quite large. Not only is it step-down, it’s separated from the rest of the apartment by way of the only door in the apartment that actually closes.
It also came equipped with an old-fashioned (nonfunctioning) furnace, a large built-in pantry, and even a yellow 1950s dining table set with studded chairs and chrome legs that our landlady said we could keep if we wanted.
What it did not have, however, was any counter space to speak of. Aside from the retro tabletop, the only surface that could pass as a counter was the half of the antique cast iron double-sink that I keep covered and use as a platform for my dish-drying rack.
To combat this lack, my husband and I cobbled together a system of surface storage with two wooden Ikea islands—one with drawers, and another one that’s basically a glorified microwave stand—and a metal rolling cart, as enterprising city dwellers are wont to do.
But we—okay, I, because the kitchen is my domain—soon learned that they were not going to cut it. Not only did I need a surface dedicated to food prep, I needed space to stash my food prep accoutrements: the Vitamix generously gifted to us on our wedding, various (heavy) pots and pans, and the obscenely large Costco-brand vodka and tequila bottles my husband made us get because “they don’t go bad.”
I don’t recall how I came up with this brilliant idea, but the solution was to get a commercial-style stainless steel work table. We ordered one with high ratings on the Home Depot website for $159.99 (it’s now $117.63), then picked it up in-store a few days later. Putting it together was a cinch except for the leveling part, because another charming characteristic of our home is that it’s very old and has uneven floors.
In any case, we put it against the wall where the decorative furnace is located, then placed the larger Ikea stand perpendicular to it and parallel to the sink. Ta da! Our very own bespoke counter system. Like playing house with oversized Lego blocks.
Because it’s made of stainless steel, the table basically looks new even after four years of constant use. My Ikeas—they’ve seen better days. The best part about this workhorse of a kitchen table is that you barely notice it. It’s just there, taking up space, sure, but also providing an invaluable service of giving me a place to put all my crap.