Grand Central Counter

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At night, it’s a mild-mannered kitchen peninsula.

But, when day breaks, it transforms into a hub of activity, a hive of productivity—it becomes Grand Central Counter!

With a complete lack of planning or foresight, this one spot in our home has become the go-to spot for many of our daily activities. The traffic of our daily lives all goes through Grand Central.

It measures 27 inches wide—easy to reach across but wide enough that a husband and wife can stand on opposite sides and work on a salad together.

It’s a long and lovely 72 inches long, plenty long enough for bolts of fabric to be unfurled or many pans of candy to be lined up, for dipping in chocolate.

For reasons known only to the guys who did the renovations for us, the counter is about two inches taller than the average counter height of 36 inches. That seems perfect to me, when my back never gets sore from bending over it.

At Grand Central counter:

  • 11-pound blocks of chocolate are chopped to usable size
  • Fabric has been cut for oh-so-many yoyos, as well as for curtains and quilts.
  • Thousands of candies have been dipped into chocolate—caramels, fondant cherries, mint, peanut butter . . . yum
  • Over 1200 Etsy orders, for candy and linens, have been packaged and taped and readied for the mail
  • Weaving has taken place on the counter, on a table loom; I needed to stand on a step stool for that!
  • Fringe has been twisted
  • Limoncello has been made here
  • Pomanders have been started
  • Family members gather for holiday baking
  • Hundreds of caramels have been wrapped in waxed paper
  • And all the food prep of a busy kitchen crosses this counter, too—dough is kneaded, veggies are chopped, chicken is pounded for cutlets
  • Cocktails are mixed here at the end of busy days—wine and scotch and bourbon and Drambuie and vodka and beer have been sloshed here

The counter is spritzed and wiped and cleaned many times a day—get the chocolate off to make room for the weaving; move the weaving so dinner can be started.

Grand Central becomes congested at certain times of day. If a project is ongoing when the load of groceries comes in from the car or it’s time to sort paper for recycling. Negotiations are sometimes necessary, to determine who gets to use the counter next and for how long.

Grand Central Counter is a godsend for busy, loving hands at home. Each night, it gets cleared off, and left quiet and empty, having earned its rest just like we have.

It awaits me now, in early morning light, ready for the traffic of the day . . .

Does your home have an equivalent?

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64 thoughts on “Grand Central Counter

  1. We have an open living space with the kitchen and family room and that includes a 5′ island in the kitchen. That island does many of the same functions you mention above including cutting fabric, laying out a pattern of quilt blocks, cooking, baking, assembling small projects, putting away groceries, etc. I do wish it involved more of the candy making you described because my mouth started watering just reading that. I do love my candy. LOL 🙂

    • My counter is seeing quite a lot of candy making right now–just made toffee and caramels. And, you know, it wouldn’t be right to send them off to customers without being sure they tasted good, right? I knew you’d agree! I’m glad you have your own grand central counter!

  2. Our central counter has food prep, present wrapping, and bill paying these days. In the old days, Son would sit there for his breakfast. It was a most remarkable thing in these days of conflicting schedules — the three of us almost always had both breakfast and dinner together. 🙂

    • That’s great and, you’re right, unusual in today’s world! We have a breakfast bar at a right angle to that peninsula and we spend a lot of time sitting there, too!

  3. How great to see where you work! I love that it is at the heart of the kitchen. What I would really love to see is one of those time lapse films of what passes over that counter during one day! I wonder if you are tidy or messy? When space is limited tidiness helps. But I have to say that my motto is ‘ Be Creative, make a mess’. But I have seen many people be quite shocked by the state of my workspaces when they come in the house 🙂

    • It stays quite tidy both because a) I am constantly switching gears, from candy making to cutting quilt pieces to wrapping linens for the mail, and b) if I leave things out, a small furry creature who will go unnamed can’t resist getting involved . . . .

      • I love your cats. I have just pulled down a recipe book from my shelf ( I want to make Cassoulet) and the page is torn at the edges and punctured with little teeth marks where my cat Ossie, as a kitten, once bit it !

  4. Bless the boards of my poor counter, it usually holds a row of mugs all night . Our family loves to gather in the family room for a bit to drink coffee ,tea or chocolate before we go to bed, then we all get up put the mugs on the counter ,turn out the lights . The mugs sit quietly all night till they get put in the dishwasher when I or hubby makes more coffee to wake the household up. ( even the dog doesn’t stir until the coffee aroma fills the air).

  5. Our kitchen is long and narrow with doors on both the long sides. In fact I find it intolerable to do anything there if there’s another person. Very little counter space, I have to keep the stove top cold if I want to roll out pizza dough! But we’d love an island if we had a different room.

    • Oh my, this brought back memories of all four of the places my husband and I lived before this house! In our first kitchen, I had to balance a cutting board over the sink to achieve any counter space at all! I guess that’s why this peninsula means so much to me!

  6. My small bit of counter space in front of the window is my “go to” place. The coffee gets made there, lists are made there, kitty gets her meds there, vegetables are chopped there and roasts are carved there. Chocolate ice cream was made there this morning.

    Funny, when I was a girl the kitchen table was the “go to” place. Oh, coffee was made on the stove in a clear glass pyrex perculator but lists were made, food was prepared, homework was completed, gossip and good times were shared, and all meals eaten together as a family around the kitchen table. How I miss it!

  7. Wish I had that. We have a kitchen table in a breakfast nook that is just a little too big for the space, so that it is not easy to get around to the back. We can pull it out and put a chair behind for emergency seating, but since our kids are grown the most usage it has gotten is when I was using it for my Chinese calligraphy practice. That fell away, and now it is used mostly as a parking place for lidless contaiters, container-less lids, and other items in need of putting somewhere else. A sad misuse of space!

    • If I’m not vigilant, our nice counter gets cluttered up the same way! It sounds to me like a smaller table in your breakfast area might make the space more inviting! 😉

  8. I don’t, and I wish I did!! I am seriously thinking of creating something to do the job though – it’s been in the ruminating stage for about three years now 🙂 I love how you give thanks to things that can so easily be taken for granted xoxo

    • I know people who have a dedicated craft or sewing room and I have to admit that would be nice! I have to pick up all my craft supplies when it’s time to make dinner!

  9. Nothing like this in my place! But I like seeing the look and utility of yours. I do think a higher counter is a good thing. It makes life easier–those guys probably thought they’d do you a favor!

    • When we bought this house, the kitchen sink was plopped right in the middle of that space and the dish soap bottle was always falling off the back side! The current configuration makes a lot more sense and, yes, has become essential!

  10. We have an old French baking table in between the kitchen and dining area….it is often the central station for daily activity. Baking, for sure…. but also anything that requires the need to spread out a bit…we often seem to only make it this far for meals ( there are several high wooden stools circling the table)…..a very useful and well-used spaced. kitchens always do seem to become the ‘central station’ for the day’s activity!

      • Just recently I was visiting a good friend of mine who now lives in her family home ( she’s my age), the same home she grew up in, the same home her father was born and raised in, and one of the oldest homesteads in our town. We were in the kitchen and reflecting about how it felt to wake up in the morning as a kid to wander into the warm, breakfast smelling, kitchen each day. Kitchens always seem to be the gathering place, the place of comfort…..the home, the hearth. Your posts always stir great thought and consideration, kerry…thank you!

      • You’re so nice to me! And I envy your friend, in some ways, to be living again where the memories are so strong. I wonder, though, if it’s difficult sometimes, too . . .

  11. My kitchen is wee – during the Cooking Season (Thanksgiving/Christmas), out of necessity I use the tile counter near the sink, if the wooden table isn’t occupied with pies/bread/cookies.

    Drawing and writing will be done in the bedroom, at considerable risk to the bedspread – many pots of ink have been known to tumble over!

    • I had a tiny, tiny kitchen like that for quite awhile–it encourages creativity! And I think it’s quite nice that more personal activities take place in the bedroom–that makes a certain amount of good sense!

  12. I have a Grand Central Counter but it doesn’t have a very good schedule, so it is often in a mess. Looks like a train wreck, a lot of the time. Some nights, if we’re lucky, it will be left in a restful state. I would be lost without it, though.

  13. Yup, I hear you. The kitchen is the hub of the house. Whenever we have to move again, the new house has to have a big open plan kitchen with workspace and a cozy corner for friends to talk to me when I am busy. Lovely post, as usual, xo Johanna

  14. Delightful post, Kerry. You have a lovely way with words. I’m 5’10” so I enjoy our slightly elevated kitchen counter. It’s the only surface in the house that I’m comfortable working on, unless it’s something I can do sitting down. I enjoyed reading about the heart of your home.

      • It’s very hard on the neck when you have to work at a counter too low for your height. Year’s ago I learned the trick of spreading my legs slightly so that I’m closer to the ground. It’s not comfortable long term but it beats the alternative.

  15. great idea, I’m going to try cleaning off my center counter each night, it is always cluttered. Piled with weaving and stuff waiting to be taken back to the studio. Its where I cut my shifu paper as well as all the necessary kitchen work. And the earthquake emergency kit is stored
    in one big drawer underneath – hope it is never used.

  16. Yup, kitchen counters are the hub of the house. Maybe mine’s less exciting, with no weaving and so on going on. But it’s always cluttered with whatever the current activity is …. which usually involves food.

  17. Looks like a great space! I’m impressed that you’re thorough enough not to get chocolate on the fabric.. I’m not sure I would be 😉 My house’s equivalent is probably the kitchen table – I cook on there, use my laptop on there, photograph crafts on there… the list goes on! xx

  18. Pingback: A Pre-ponder-ance of Making | Love Those "Hands at Home"

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