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Balancing Beauty And Function In The Kitchen With Eton

To me, the kitchen is the heart of any home. It's one of the rooms that I spend most of my time in. Whether I'm preparing delicious foods, greeting guests or gathering friends and family around the dinner table, it's a room whose atmosphere is filled with many memories and stories.

It's for this reason that many people invest a lot of time and effort into carefully planning and curating the perfect kitchen. Creating the perfect kitchen is about achieving a harmonious balance between beautiful decoration and functionality without thinking that the two are mutually exclusive. Careful planning is needed in smaller spaces where every square inch needs a purpose as well as in larger kitchens, where the distance between things can become quite significant. In the case of larger kitchens, you'll effectively be creating what I call a 'primary' and a 'secondary' kitchen where utensils and ingredients that are used often are stored in the 'primary' space near preparation and cooking areas, while the rest (like the mixing machine I probably see once a year) is stored in the 'secondary' space in the pantry or other - you're effectively creating a 'kitchen within a kitchen' here.

While the kitchen is the heart of the home, food is the lifeblood of our lives. A dedicated space for preparing food can get rid of a lot of unnecessary stress and can make the activity of cooking quite pleasant. I find that counter tops can be quite unforgiving, and we often underestimate how much room kitchen appliances, sugar jars and other kitchen equipment take up, and if not carefully monitored, spaces can quickly become cramped and inefficient. Whenever I'm preparing food, I always choose the same space to cut up the vegetables and mince the herbs. That's because I associate a particular area with a certain activity and that helps me stay organised and efficient. The realisation of this sparked the idea of creating a piece whose sole purpose was to make the process of preparing food easy.

So, for the last couple of months, we've been drafting and creating a standalone piece of furniture that achieved exactly that. I'd like to introduce you to our Eton Chopping Block whose existence makes cooking exciting.



Design & Materials

Our chopping block, also known as a butchers block, is a dedicated space for cutting and preparing food. Eton's large surface area means that it can also double up as a kitchen island.

Its design balances the practicalities of modern living and beautiful, farmhouse design. We knew we wanted Eton to be cherished for generations, so we've chosen to craft it from the highest quality materials.

I love using natural materials, and for this particular project, we chose oak to construct the chopping board, the tray it sits in, the fixed shelf and rails. Oak is a unique and prestigious material, known for its strength, durability and gorgeous swirling, tight grain pattern. We've used it here because it ages slowly and beautifully, withstanding the test of time. We've also used a Farrow and Ball paint for the frame, I'd always suggest a paint rather than a wood stain for frames, just because when you feel the need to, you can refresh the layers of paint and the item will look as good as it was when it was new.

I'm always conscious on the environmental impact the business has. The future of the business depends on the long term availability of hard wood materials like oak. So, we've used FSC and PEFC certified oak from a local supplier. While slightly costly, it definitely feels a lot better knowing we're not having a destructive effect on our planet.



Good design means a space is functional and works for you. There are actually several ways we've incorporated storage solutions into the Eton chopping block. I prefer when things are exposed, and I'm not too much of a fan of having so many cupboards, mostly because I know that I really have no idea what's at the back of them!. Where possible, I'll always choose to use drawers with clever organising solutions, like a cutlery tray or a spice rack. In Eton's case, we've created a deep 'hidden' draw which is ideal for storing knives, tea towels, and other things which you'll need close at hand for when you're preparing food. The rails were incorporated because it's convenient for hanging cloths or dried herbs. Eton comes with a set of 8 silver S hooks, and I find that a lot of people get creative with what they're used for. I've seen a few people add small baskets for storing things like a batch of potatoes or onions, which I thought was quite clever. If not used for function, these rails can be used as a decorative element too, adding interest and integrity.

At the bottom, there's a fixed, oak shelf. You can choose to store your salad bowls here or any other kitchen equipment. Lastly, we have our oak chopping board and tray. The oak chopping board is made from end grain oak, which is the hardest part of the wood to keep your knives sharp. It also has a drainage groove, to store any leaking juices while you work. The chopping board sits inside of a tray, both of these components can be removed to give you easy access to cleaning, and bonus, the tray can be used as a serving tray for when you have guests!

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