The article, Making Kitchens Special by Jan Uebelherr, featured my parents’ unique kitchen island — an antique woodworker’s work bench. Here’s the part about them:
‘Sold,’ to the couple with kitchen smarts
Dean and Valerie Ferber know a thing or two about shopping around. The previous owners of the Ferbers’ cottage-style home in Hales Corners had an antique bread table. It gave the antique-loving Ferbers an idea. They hunted flea markets, antique shops, estate sales. At one antiques mall, they spotted the perfect piece: a woodworker’s bench. But at $1,100, it was too pricey.
Then, on the way to another store, they stopped at an auction and found a bench covered with paint and equipped with two vises. Where others might have seen a mess, the Ferbers saw potential. But first they had to win it.
Bidding started near the price of that first bench they’d seen, but there were no takers. The price dropped to $500, then $250, then $100. Finally, Dean Ferber raised his auction paddle. The auctioneer asked for $125, and a man in front held up his hand. Dean Ferber bid $150 – and the 1880s work bench was theirs.
“And all Wifey could say was ‘How are we going to load that thing?'”
With some help, they got it into their van and were off.
My parents had to clean & restore the old workbench — but as you can see, it was totally worth it!
It’s beautiful and functional — and loaded with memories…
Most holidays and celebrations, our family members can be found gathered around the new kitchen island from the old workbench serving as a buffet table.
My daughter used to love to play with the pots and pans stored on racks beneath it. (In my mind’s eye, I still see her chubby toddler legs sticking out from beneath the table — but I mercifully don’t hear the clanging.)
My son still likes to play with his toy cars on it, rolling the cars down the “ramped” sides of the trough (where the silver tray is seen in the photo) trying to push them up fast enough to jump the ramp at the other side — without getting busted. (Challenging indeed!)
This is no longer an old junky piece — or even a piece of furniture; it’s a member of the family.