97 Comments

  1. Jane
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:24 am

    What about having seats on the ugly side of the island- having an oversized countertop that extends further on that side and stools underneath that? Also adding a couple fancy corbels to fancy it up.

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  2. Erin
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:32 am

    MIRRORED THING! MIRRORED THING! MIRRORED THING!

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  3. Garden, Home and Party
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:33 am

    I love that first piece. I can see where an unfinished back would be an issue. Darn. You are certainly on the right track though. I love the idea of a beautiful piece of furniture turned into an island.
    xo,
    Karen

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  4. Fl!p Breskin
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:33 am

    I’m currently in pursuit of an Eastlake or Renaissance Revival marble-topped walnut dresser for the centerpiece of my kitchen. The ones with drawer pulls carved like fruit and an overhanging top drawer. Really fancy! I will put it on castors and roll it under the counter beneath the kitchen windows. Then I can roll it out into the center of the kitchen when I need extra workspace (2 or 3 times a year for big parties). Thanks everybody for the idea of embossed tin panels on the back! I may also add an old table leaf, hinged across the back, to tip up (like a gateleg table) to give still more counter space. Looking ahead to my dotage, I’m leaving the middle of the kitchen wide open to make sure there’s room for a wheelchair to maneuver. Actually, I have friends who already use them. Therefore I’m designing my house so everybody I love can come visit (and admire…).

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  5. Becca Smith
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:46 am

    Forgive me if someone already mentioned this, but have you considered some kind of Victorian-y bar, drink-serving thingy? It would be finished on all sides. likely open in the back (hello, dishwasher!) and be perfect to use with stools.
    I bet you could even find one with a marble top, so even though it would likely be more expensive than, say, the bank table, think of all the money you would save by not having to buy a slab of marble. Win-win!

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  6. Laurie
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:47 am

    The bank table lacks the extra storage but it WOULD be super easy to sweep under. Or send the Roomba under.

    I love them all. They are magnificent and I can see why you are having a hard time deciding. For sure, you should have monster paw feet. I think that is a must-have.

    For the piece with the unfinished back, would there be a way to put a gorgeous piece of finished wood on it, something that can hide the different wood a little, like the grooved pattern or an intricate carving, and then when you get a big piece of marble, have extra for a good long lip on that side for counter seating. It might hide that side enough to pass.

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  7. P.j.
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:53 am

    I believe you’re overthinking this decision. I say that because I tend to overthink some choices, sometimes to the point of ignoring the obvious. If the measurements & price fit (kitchen & budget), I doubt you’ll find anything better than the buffet/counter in photo #1 or the one in the 4th photo from the bottom. Situate the island with the ‘pretty side’ facing the public, & add veneer to the ‘ugly/plain side’, along with appropriately-scaled towel bars. If you do need to insert an appliance on the plain side, it won’t interrupt the original design. No paint, no need to butcher an antique. But if you’re not installing an appliance or sink, you can take the island with you when you move.

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  8. Dianne
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:54 am

    I like the giant claw feet server/chest. it would be beautiful in the center of a kitchen. Islands do not need to be bars with stools, just wonderful work spaces for the cook. As for the back…I am sure it could be reworked in some manner. Honestly if you restain it I do not think the color matching would be a problem or an issue if it is off. Go for it!

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    • Carri
      February 11, 2015 @ 12:57 pm

      They all look fabulous! I’m gladdened to hear you sounding almost practical. I can also see the huge buffet with the massive claw feet as an island. What else could you use it for?

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  9. P.j.
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:56 am

    Oh, if you decide not to top an antique with marble, there is a product made for wood-topped islands that is both food safe & durable. I saw it on This Old House, & also found a product on Amazon that’s supposed to be a once-&-done type finish—not like mineral oil or other finishes that have to be reapplied periodically to protect from water stains, etc.

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  10. Judith Caldwell
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:56 am

    I’m with Tracee and Sunnie: the enameled table appears to have neither a drain nor a blood gutter, so probably no dead bodies in its history. We came close to incorporating a nine-foot long, 30″ wide stainless steel behemoth autopsy table into our kitchen remodel, but when we chose not to move the kitchen into another room there wasn’t enough space for it. I am kind of glad, now…though you could have dismembered a dozen chickens on the thing with room to spare. It was incredible. My suggestion for the unfinished back of a piece of fancy wooden furniture made into an island is a sheet of 16 gauge hot-rolled steel sheared to fit and trimmed out in wood. My kitchen walls are hot-rolled–I love the dark gray color–and I stick all sorts of magnetic things onto them. I wax it, and the mill scale finish does not rust. It has a nice resonance with my douglas fir wood cabinets, and doesn’t look industrial, just rich. It’s relatively inexpensive, and easy to work with.

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    • Annet M
      February 11, 2015 @ 8:14 pm

      I had to google hot rolled steel and wow, you totally just found me my kitchen solution. All thanks to our mutual love of VEB!

      Reply

  11. Kerily
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:57 am

    I love the old bank table. Totally impractical and beautiful!

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  12. Monica W
    February 11, 2015 @ 11:59 am

    Bank Table will be my first furniture splurge post Powerball win.

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  13. Shirley
    February 11, 2015 @ 12:21 pm

    Think back-to-back! A beautiful furniture piece facing out,back side shelves or bins or drawers for onions, potatoes etc.. Dishwasher facing back with cookbooks shelves facing out. Cover whole thing with marble top as desired.

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  14. Laura J
    February 11, 2015 @ 12:23 pm

    OK, I’m sure you’ve considered this. Maybe it’s even in another comment. But I don’t have time to look/read. Anyhoo, you could build a half wall to butt up against the unadorned side. Finish it off with paint. Or bead board. Or a recessed panel wainscot. You could mount corbels there so you could add enough support to have a marble slab that extends far enough to allow for seating on that side. OK, that doesn’t solve the $18,000 problem, but I am not a miracle worker . . . .

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  15. Kay
    February 11, 2015 @ 12:42 pm

    I love the Victorian buffet server, which would look gorgeous facing the public side of your kitchen. (Is it peculiar to refer to parts of a house as “public”?) Wouldn’t do for a dishwasher, of course–do you have a place for one next to your sink? The price is right, and your commenters have wonderful suggestions for the unfinished backside. A white kitchen with a big beautiful repurposed dark wood island is something to behold. I have a more rustic lighter wood bakers cabinet on one wall of my white kitchen, and even that looks pretty terrific. I too love Miss Mustardseed’s incredible furniture finds, but they always look a million times better after she’s painted them. Which you don’t want, of course. You’re doing the right thing by exploring a lot of options. I spent a year on research before finally settling on a kitchen design and the kitchen centerpiece, a blue Lacanche range, and I have no regrets about anything.

    Although I never quite got around to considering a cadaver table.

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  16. Bridget from Refined Vintage
    February 11, 2015 @ 12:46 pm

    Hi Elizabeth,
    I really think the Victorian Buffet is the only choice for you. You can still use the VB by adding shelves on back side(perfect for displaying more pretties and essentials), and leave space for bar stools as well. you can get a larger marble slab for the top and support this with some FANCY corbels. It is not as hard as you think to match a wood stain, even an old patina. You just have to test some colors, possibly mix them to get the right shade and you may have to use an “antique” glaze over this to mimic the patina. It can be done. I think this is the easiest option.

    We remodeled our kitchen last year and added cabinets (found at Home Goods!) to the back side of our original cabinet peninsula. We built an open shelf on the end, and these both created a larger work surface and more storage. it added such character. We had to match the color of the new HG cabinets for trim and shelves and it turned out perfectly.

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  17. nancy
    February 11, 2015 @ 1:16 pm

    Well, I completely understand your dilemma. I finally found the piece that I want for my kitchen island (huge buffet with dark wood top, crazy hand carving, double lion face scrolled handles and double paws all on wheels), paid all of $50 for it, schlepped it home, painted it up in the style I want and now my hubby HATES the idea. Doesn’t want to get rid of our traditional cabinets with marble top island that I can’t stand. I think murder is still illegal in my state, but must admit I’m now plotting his untimely demise….of course, it will look like an accident.

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    • Janet
      February 11, 2015 @ 3:04 pm

      I feel your pain. My parents died a few years ago and their home of wonderful family heirloom antiques was divided up by us three kids. Unfortunately my husband decided he no longer likes antiques and certainly doesn’t want to feel like he’s living in my parents’ home, so thankfully I have a room all to myself and there they all are, waiting as a small consolation for that aged day I may live alone and can free them to join the rest of the house again.

      Reply

  18. Sara
    February 11, 2015 @ 1:29 pm

    As an antiques dealers I have sold several items for use as a counter. My suggestion: find something in oak or walnut and then remove the blah backboards. cover that area with old an panel door (turned horizontally) in a stain that is a close match! Easy – Peasy. Looks amazing! Any bit that protrudes out too far at the top can easily be covered with a strip of nice molding. Just something to think about.

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  19. Jeannette
    February 11, 2015 @ 1:31 pm

    Haven’t read all the comments and perhaps someone has already suggested what I’m about to, and am not really sure you need any additional suggestions but, the idea of THE THING having big claw feet is awesome (the bank table is pretty amazing too), so, you could use molding to create some visual interest to the blah backside of any one of the amazing buffet options you showed above (think wainscoting). The marble would then be large enough to hangover the buffet to create a bar. Put bar stools in front, ’cause you know people are going to be in the kitchen and want to sit and chat! You have then masked the blah side of THE THING of awesomeness.

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  20. Susan Macdougall
    February 11, 2015 @ 1:47 pm

    My Dear Mrs. Barnes-
    I have a hard time believing that you are incapable of matching stain to any piece of antique furniture. You can do this!!!! It takes a bit of trial and error, but you have a super eye for this kind of thing and you can make it happen. I am looking at the buffet above (with the plain back). How about using a piece like that but taking an old paneled door and cutting that to fit the plain back? As I write this I am looking at my circa 1896 pump organ, made from mahogany. Those show up all of the time and can be disassembled to use for just this kind of thing. I love the things you find when you are out and about.
    Sincerely-
    Mrs. Macdougall

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