In a recent post I mentioned how lucky we are in our chosen occupation. One of the many benefits we enjoy is that many of our clients also become friends.

A prime example is a lovely couple who moved here about a year ago to be closer to their son and his family. After leaving a very large home in the mountains of New Mexico, they began settling into a smaller, zero lot line town home in a nice gated community in Texas. As you can imagine, it took a great deal of effort to work through the “what to keep, what to sell, what to give away” decisions. We entered the picture when they decided to let us restore some of the heirloom pieces that would become a permanent part of their new home.

During a visit to return a completed project, we were asked about a referral for the kitchen island project. The existing kitchen island had a small, solid surface top along with a sort of standard issue cooktop. It provided little work area in what is the center of the kitchen. Our client’s idea was to upgrade the cooktop and add some workspace to the island. Instead of a referral we jumped at the chance to build the top for her.

For us, this is a fun project. The new island top is about 30 inches wide and a full 7 feet in length. The added length provides room for the larger, upgraded cooktop and some space to sit at the end. The extra length was cantilevered over the end of the island to provide space for two stools.

It is made of solid, hard rock maple almost 2″ thick. The choice was made to use random width boards similar to commercial kitchen work tables. The grain is beautiful and quite upscale compared to standard butcher block.

This is a work surface that is meant to be used. We assembled it with waterproof glue that is FDA approved for food contact. It is bolted together with long through bolts as well, similar to commercial butcher blocks from years ago. Walnut plugs were used to cover the hardware and give the edge a contrasting highlight. Rather than a finish, it is treated with mineral oil. A simple cleaning and occasional re-treatment with oil will keep it looking great for years.

Our home has a center work table with a top much like this one. It is in constant use by the Red Hot Chef and has inspired several fun projects like this in the past. As we revisit them, it is evident that the more they are used, the more character they add to the room. Most become the central conversation area when guests arrive.

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