Butcher Block: Unexpected Beauty for Your Whole Home

Butcher Block: Unexpected Beauty for Your Whole Home

Butcher Block is an expected material for cutting boards, island tops, and chopping blocks, but did you know it’s good for so much more? I have the extreme pleasure of working on our custom projects daily, and let me tell you, some of my favorites have started with a customer saying, “This idea is going to sound a little crazy, but…” But nothing! Let’s do it! Besides the amazing kitchen makeovers we’ve done, we also do quite a few non-conventional projects like bathrooms, garages, and even closets. One time I even got to help design a shuffle board table!

Butcher Block makes for an extremely versatile, durable, and beautiful surface for just about any room in the house!

We’ll ease our way out of the kitchen with this gorgeous handcrafted bar one of our talented customers built. He made everything by hand except the butcher block top, which is 12 feet of beautiful Maple.

Butcher Block

Kitchens are, of course, the most common projects I work on, but gaining speed in second place is the home office. You could have a beautifully warm desktop custom made to your specifications to create the perfect workspace. We can even drill the holes for cables and wires to keep your work area sleek and uncluttered. The John Boos Varnique semi-gloss finish creates the perfect surface for an office; it’s polished-looking without being glaringly shiny, holds up well to daily tasks, and cleans up like a breeze. The desktops for the office pictured below are custom Walnut Edge Grain from John Boos & Co. The shape of the top was perfectly and precisely designed to accommodate the computer station, and Boos even custom cut a piece to be used as a leg. It turned out beautifully and is still just as attractive more than two years later.

Butcher Block

We work with quite a few restaurants as well, providing work tables for the kitchen and dining tables for the guests. We have some crossover with the work tables for residential customers, but the John Boos dining tops have really gained in popularity for household use. They are beautiful, durable, and affordable, making them the perfect solution for just about anyone! While there are the traditional restaurant-style black metal bases available, most of our customers are looking to add a custom top to a preexisting base, whether it’s something they found at a flea market, or the legs from the antique dining table passed down by Grandma. These unique dining tops are available in Maple, Cherry, and Walnut.

Butcher Block

Stepping out of the living space, we find ourselves in the garage. You may be wondering what on earth a butcher block would be doing out in a garage, but this is actually quite common. We’ve done some gorgeous Walnut tops to outfit a collector’s garage, Commercial style Maple to accommodate the everyday workbench, and Industrial Maple for those who really get down to business! No matter the purpose, butcher block can add unexpected character and warmth to this often forgotten room. Here you see one customer’s (almost finished!) laundry center in their garage. The sleek Varnique finish makes for an excellent folding and sorting station!

Butcher Block

To a lesser degree, we have also outfitted bathrooms and closets. Can you imagine having a huge walk-in closet with an island for accessories right in the middle? Now picture a gleaming Cherry block atop that island…ahhh, heaven! Something like that would have never occurred to me if I hadn’t had a customer ask for just that. Add a gorgeous Roman Ogee edge, and you’ve got swank to the nth degree! One of my favorite bathroom projects was for a man who was re-figuring the room for his new wife. He had a custom Walnut top made with a curved edge (like a half moon) to expand on the vanity space so she had room for her perfumes, makeup, and hair toys without getting bogged down with “boy stuff” (his words). Because he designed and installed it himself, it was a lovely personal touch and I consider his wife a very lucky lady.

The downside to all of this design fun is that I don’t always get to see the finished product. We LOVE when our customers send photos of their projects so that we can ogle and share. There’s a lot of inspiration out there, and we want to spread it around! So, if you’re planning a butcher block project, take pictures along the way and when you’re done and send them on over to us. You may even end up featured on our blog!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Kitchen Organizing Tips for Fall Baking!

Fall is here and it’s time to get ready for the baking season! I know I’m excited! This year I’m trying something new, though – I am reorganizing my kitchen for fall in the same vein in which I reorganize my wardrobe. Tank tops and salad spinners will be tucked away in favor of boots and bakeware. I have a whole hutch full of baking equipment, but it lives in my living room because my kitchen is tiny. I went on a kitchen organizing spree this Spring, but a lot of the equipment that is taking up prime real estate could be replaced with more seasonal items. So I am going to share with you some of the tips I’m trying to follow that I think will help you prepare for this delightful season, too!

  • Designate a main workspace. Mine is my dream island (the one in the link is the one that lives in my head, not my kitchen…but some day she will be mine). It currently houses my knife block, cutting board, my overflow pots and pans that don’t fit on my pot rack, and two junk drawers (and a pile of mail…).
  • Remove all non-essential items (especially mail) from this area.
  • Think about your Fall cooking/baking style. Do you love making pies and tarts? Are you a huge fan of roasted root vegetables? Do stews and rustic breads show up on your dinner table at least once a week? Go through some of your favorite dishes in your head and make a list of your most common equipment.
  • Figure out a game plan for this area with the above-mentioned list in mind. DON’T add anything back to this area before you have some type of plan. That just leads to clutter and dysfunction. Kitchen organizing isn’t just about making your kitchen look tidy – it’s about making your kitchen work for your unique style. For example, if you’re going to be using your food processor and stand mixer a lot more often, it would certainly make sense to have them out all the time (if you have room for that, of course). Likewise, this is probably a good time of year to have your canisters of flour and sugar within arm’s reach. A small wall-mount or magnetic spice rack could be a nice addition to hold your nutmeg and allspice for all those pumpkin pies. This is also a great place to keep a little stack of mise-en-place bowls. Trust me, you’ll use them.
  • Slowly start bringing in your equipment and make adjustments to your game plan as necessary. I just realized my rolling pin has holes in the handles and I can hang it on my pot rack right above my island. I hadn’t noticed this before because it has been tucked away in a drawer in the hutch in my living room for the past nine months. Fortunately I had a wine bottle handy the last time I had to roll something out!
  • Preheat your oven and get to work! Isn’t it nice to have your roasting pans and pastry brushes all within reach?

Try some kitchen organizing by creating your unique  “Fall Baking Zone”.  It makes for fun and easy baking.

BLOG FALL BAKING ZONE.xlsx

What else do I need? What are you going to add to your Fall Zone? Do you have any great kitchen organizing tips for Fall?

Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

Kitchen Islands – How to simplify the selection process

The kitchen is the heart of the home, and a kitchen island can be a great addition to this space, where you cook, entertain, gather and celebrate with family and friends.  Purchasing a kitchen island can be a significant investment, so choosing the right kitchen island for you is critical. While the choices are many, here are some things to consider to make the selection process simpler:
  1. How do you intend to use your kitchen island?  Would you use it for sitting and eating, or more for food prep and serving?
  2. How much floor space do you have?  Kitchen islands range in length from 4 to 5 feet and are often 2 feet wide, so make certain you have space for the island and for good traffic flow. If you don’t have that much space, a butcher block table may be a better option.
  3. What features are most important to you?  Islands are available with one or many features like closed cabinets, extendable cutting boards, drop leaves, open shelves, drawers, or baskets.
  4. Finally, what will best match your décor and personal style? There is a wide array of styles to choose from in a range of colors, finishes and woods.  Pick the style that complements your current kitchen cabinets, countertops and flooring.

ButcherBlockCo offers a wide selection of Kitchen Islands.

  • Classic Kitchen Island Breakfast Sets  expand not only dining space and seating capacity, but serving space.  Many come with bar stools to match.
  • Butcher Block Islands designed to be used as chopping workstations complete with food-safe natural oil finish.  They also double as a food buffet and serving space.  Many butcher block kitchen islands are available with optional casters to make them portable.
  • Butcher Block Islands with food-safe varnish finish are ideal for food prep and serving.  The varnish brings out the wood’s natural beauty and luster.
  • Fine furniture Wood Islands are both beautiful and functional serving islands.
  • Kitchen Island Countertops can also be purchased should you have an existing built in kitchen island you are remodeling.  Custom size countertops and custom edging to match your existing countertops can be ordered.
The kitchen is the heart of the home, and an island can be the focal point of your kitchen.  To learn more about kitchen island options, watch our YOUTUBE Video.

ButcherBlockCo.com – The Experts In All Things Butcher Block

Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

Butcher Block Care – Spring Cleaning Tips

The weather is getting nicer, tulips are peeking up through the ground and I am reminded that it really is springtime – even though we still hear of snow storms across the country!  This means it is time for “spring cleaning”!  I may be an odd duck, but I actually find cleaning to be a bit cathartic.  When I am stressed I end up cleaning my kitchen to feel better. Maybe it is a control-thing.  Please tell me I am not the only one who feels this way?

So I thought it an appropriate time to share some butcher block care and cleaning tips for your kitchen.  My close friend, who spends a lot of time cooking and baking, was really surprised to hear that plastic cutting boards are less sanitary than wood cutting boards.  This learning has been blogged about and shared online for many years.  But if you have never heard of it, or need to be reminded of it again, here is the scoop.

For a long time it was believed that wood butcher blocks and cutting boards were more likely to harbor dangerous levels of bacteria; given that wood is porous, it would soak up juices from raw meats, allowing bacteria to seep down into the board. And this bacteria could pose a risk of contaminating the next food item placed on the cutting board. Plastic, because it is non-porous, was believed to be resistant to this bacterial invasion.

While it may not be entirely clear, research has shown that wood boards were actually more sanitary than the plastic boards.  It is believed that bacteria can get lodged in the nicks and gouges that form on a plastic cutting board.  High quality wood butcher blocks – made from Hard Rock Maple and other premium hardwoods – are more resistant to this type of knife damage.  Additionally, the wood used to construct these butcher block countertops, kitchen islands, kitchen carts, and cutting boards appears to have natural germ-killing properties which are not present in plastic!

Enough of the technical stuff, now for a few Quick Tips for Butcher Block Care:

  • Separate your FoodThe Partnership for Food Safety Education recommends using one cutting board for fresh produce and a different cutting board for raw meat, poultry and seafood to prevent cross-contamination.  We agree!
  • Wash Immediately – After use, always wash your cutting boards or chopping block with hot soapy water and dry with a clean towel.
  • Sanitize – Especially after exposure to raw meat. It is pretty easy to use 1 Tablespoon unscented chlorine bleach in one gallon of water. If you prefer, use straight white vinegar instead of diluted bleach solution.
  • Dry – Set cutting boards on edge to air dry completely.
  • Oil  – Once a month use a food-grade mineral oil like John Boos Mystery Oil or Beeswax Board Cream

At ButcherBlockCo we like to tout the many benefits of hardwood cutting boards and butcher blocks, and being more sanitary than plastic is one of our favorites.

Have fun cleaning!

 
Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Kitchen Fitness: Use it or Lose it!

Having grown up in a gourmet kitchen store, I have a fabulous collection of kitchen essentials. Unfortunately, I have a mass of non-essentials, too! I need to focus on my kitchen fitness!! Honestly, who really needs six whisks of the same style?

The new year brought a new home with a smaller kitchen and, let me tell you, this kitchenware collector did not adjust well! For a solid month we lived with pans literally stacked on the floor, utensils pouring out of boxes, and a butcher block table so overloaded with stuff I couldn’t even use it! After stubbing my toe on a cast iron skillet for the 27th time, I’d had enough. I painstakingly went through every piece of cookware, bakeware, gadgetry, and appliance and whittled my way down to a manageably fit kitchen.

A few of the more ridiculous things I ousted:

  • Five whisks (kept four!)
  • Three 8” fry pans. THREE!!
  • Two nasty 12” skillets
  • Two garlic presses
  • A brand new ravioli rolling pin (why??)
  • Two identical carrot ribboning tools (why I even had one is beyond me)

A few things I can’t live without:

  • Counter-space-hogging espresso machine
  • Super quality cookware and knives
  • Silicone spatulas (colorful AND functional!)
  • My KitchenAid mixer
  • Quality cutting boards
  • Cake pans (endless uses!)
  • Cheese graters (yes, plural – don’t judge.)

And a few things I WON’T live without:

  • Vita-Mix blender – Don’t use this enough to justify the hefty price tag, but it’s magic!
  • All 22 of my wonderful German knives (seven are steak knives – it’s not that excessive!) –I use about four of them regularly, but they’re all in one block, so getting rid of some won’t save me any space!
  • My 23-year-old gigantic Scanpan “witch’s cauldron.” I have used it exactly two times, but it’s the bee’s knees and holds 9.5 quarts of stew AND 23 years worth of family memories.
  • Absurd (someone said that!) amounts of cookware. After getting rid of about a dozen pans, I still have a full pot rack (excellent addition to a small kitchen, by the way) and then some.

Clearly I have a hard time letting go of things I might possibly-some-day-in-the-distant-future use (looking at you, pasta machine). Getting rid of some of my unnecessities, however, made me appreciate the value behind the pieces I kept. I can do just as much with a simple set of tongs, spatulas, and bamboo spoons as I could with the multiple boxes of utensils I chucked (donated, don’t worry).

before & after

Moral of this story is that investing in quality multi-tasking pieces not only makes sense financially, but will improve your kitchen fitness. Plus you end up with space to keep the occasional frivolous purchase (*cough* individual instant popsicle makers).

You know that feeling when you clean out your closet and it’s like you have a whole new wardrobe with room for new boots? It’s like that. So next time you throw a spatula in frustration because its fat rubber handle won’t fit into your utensil crock, do yourself a favor and get your kitchen fit!

What are your must-haves for the kitchen?