When we moved into our current house, I struggled with where to put our dining table… and our kitchen table. This house has an open floor plan, and we have two wonderful tables. Both are pretty, old wood — a formal mahogany dining table, and a massive vintage oak table my husband convinced me would be perfect in its already-heavily-loved state. “You need some place to do all your projects,” he reasoned, “and someplace where I’m not worried about putting down something hot. And we need someplace where the kiddo can do his homework while we cook dinner. We’re kitchen people. We need a good kitchen table.”
We are kitchen people. We really, really are. In our current kitchen, we have a small sofa, a ghost chair, a really comfortable club chair that’s actually this chair from Ikea with a good upholstery job. We spend easily nine tenths of our time at home in the kitchen (if not more). We love the kitchen. It’s our favorite room in the house. Like I said, we are Kitchen People.
But we’re also Formal Dining Room People. We love the whole show of it. The candles, the pretty china, the routine of celebration and feeling like this meal is something special. But all meals are really something special, even if only in their everyday regularity, and more importantly, we couldn’t fit both tables in our small, open floor plan space. So the conundrum became: Which table do we keep?
I lobbied hard for the dining table (Christmas! Thanksgiving! Sunday dinner! This is why God made coasters!), but in the end, my beloved formal table has had its leaves removed, it moved upstairs, and it currently houses a lamp, a vase of flowers, and a small stack of books. We’re down to just the kitchen table.
And I’ve never been happier.
A kitchen table is the lifeblood of the family. It’s the center of domestic attention. It’s where the magic happens. And if it isn’t, it should be.
Once upon a time, I read this fabulous Ode to a Kitchen Table (a marvelous rhyme of devotion) and had a flashback to my earliest, happiest childhood memories: Mornings at our kitchen table. The smell of coffee drifting upstairs to my bedroom, the low drum of NPR downstairs, the padding of slippers down the back stairs, and slumping quietly into my chair, knowing that my dad would take care of everything. Toast, problems with friends, trouble with conjugations, all of it. Breakfast at that kitchen table was what made whatever I ate the breakfast of champions.
It makes you wonder how I ever thought I should fight for the dining table, doesn’t it?
So we’ve found a happy medium. Our kitchen table, which seats eight without its leaf and takes up the single largest space in our house, is covered in remnant pock-marks of glue, glitter, and Prismacolor markers. It has scratches from a life we don’t even know about and a few we caused ourselves. It is also home to our fancy silver candlesticks, which are hand-me-downs from several generations ago, and a vase full of flowers that always seem happy to see me. It’s at once coffee bar and breakfast nook, home base for Thanksgiving and the place we toast our biggest accomplishments.
It’s everything it should be: The center of it all.
As we look for new houses (in St. Petersburg, Florida, so if you have neighborhood recommendations, please pass them on!), I’m constantly struck by the lack of space in kitchens. There’s no room for a big kitchen table. There’s usually no room for a little kitchen table. There’s no room for Hunter and his toys, the dogs and their beds, the grown ups and their appetizers. There’s no room for NPR mornings and reassuring breakfasts. There’s no room for magic. There’s no room for life.
Maybe we’ll find room a doorway away. Maybe we’ll find the perfect space right there. But no matter where we find ourselves, I know we’ll find our beloved kitchen table sitting front-and-center, making our new house an immediate home. So do you really need a kitchen table? I don’t know. I do. I can’t imagine life without one.
P.S. — I must confess my life isn’t exactly Pinterest-picture worthy. But our real kitchen table, which I love with my whole heart, is right here.