apartment progress: using a built-in ironing board.

May 10, 2021
drop down ironing board | reading my tea leaves

We have a new table in our kitchen. It’s not really a table and it’s decidedly not new, but it’s a surface we’ve recently unearthed and put back to use.

James and I exhumed the old fold-down ironing board together. We chipped carefully at the paint sealing it shut and dropped the board down not because we have plans to make a habit of regular ironing, but because using what’s already here seemed like a nice thing to do and in a kitchen with very little counter space, any useable surface is welcomed. Even better if it’s one that be tucked totally out of sight. This morning, this old drop-down ironing board served as potting bench as I puttered about repotting flowers that I will try to keep alive on a very hot patch of Brooklyn roof this summer.

drop down ironing board | reading my tea leaves

No surprise, when we first opened the cabinet, we were hit with precisely the kind of pungency you might imagine would emanate from a space that had been closed up for decades, but olfactory affronts notwithstanding, the table and its simple mechanism was in perfect condition. The odor was rectified by a good wipe down with a vinegar soaked rag and a few hours of airing out.

drop down ironing board | reading my tea leaves

As part of the project we decided to remove the old formica-topped table that had been attached to the cabinet door at some point along the way. The slanty table had its own charm and utility, but making room instead for a cart on wheels and the ability to use the board felt like a wise move, all things considered. We asked our landlord whether he’d like to store the table and he gave us his official Brooklyn blessing: “This stuff is just going get stuck here when I’m dead anyway.” So, we bid it adieu and passed it along to someone who could use it in the here and now.

drop down ironing board | reading my tea leaves

What about you? New progress or old treasures?

drop down ironing board | reading my tea leaves

For the curious:

+ Our new rolling cart is from Yamazaki Home (and I recently shared a few thoughts on their blog in case you’d like to see).

+ I finally had a few prints framed and am trying out two in our kitchen. There Is An Alternative was part of a limited edition run made by Alice at Forestbound; Vote For the Planet was a poster designed by Lena Wolff; both were framed for me by Simply Framed using their Gallery Natural frames.

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  • Reply Anna May 10, 2021 at 2:03 pm

    Your landlord sounds like a good dude.

    • Reply marion May 10, 2021 at 2:38 pm

      Yes I was thinking the same! I think Erin mentioned that he helped to with the “new”old repurposed door.

  • Reply Sarah May 10, 2021 at 3:12 pm

    I bought a vintage wooden ironing board (freestanding though) through FB marketplace this winter, with plans to use it as a console table between a new couch and the wall. Well, when the couch finally arrived, we decided to completely rearrange the living room, and didn’t need a console table at all. I wasn’t sure what to do with it, so it stayed stashed for a few weeks. But then a friend moved into an apartment of her own for the first time in years, and needed furniture, and she now has the ironing board as a plant stand. Love second and third (and on) lives.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 10, 2021 at 3:15 pm


  • Reply Jamie May 10, 2021 at 4:28 pm

    My Grandparents old house had a built in ironing board, butlers pantry, and giant cast iron sink in the kitchen. They never updated it. To me it was always a perfect old kitchen.
    On a side note, is there another term for butler pantry, I cringe just typing those words.

  • Reply Diana May 10, 2021 at 5:51 pm

    Several years ago I read an article about a couple that bought an SF Victorian and realized there was a SECRET ROOM under their kitchen that was a perfectly preserved prohibition era speakeasy (!!!!) I think finding this ironing board is at least as exciting?!

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 10, 2021 at 7:06 pm

      at LEAST!

  • Reply Cussot May 11, 2021 at 3:42 pm

    So have you slathered it with board butter yet? I love that stuff.

    • Reply ERIN BOYLE May 12, 2021 at 9:04 am

      Ha! I think I would want to give it a good sanding before that, but on the list!

  • Reply Orchids May 12, 2021 at 6:33 am

    Not quite the same but we passed along all our baby gear this month. We’re 100% done with it, some of it is going back to be used again by families and some is going to brand new homes, and a lot of it will be missed but there is great joy in knowing the slings, tiny clothes and other assortments will be used, and passed on, and used again. And in return we have received stuff for our stage of life (thanks for the free kids bikes, friends!).

    • Reply julie May 12, 2021 at 10:26 am

      Just piping in to say that I find SO much joy in seeing our kiddo’s much-loved clothes on friends’ little ones!

  • Reply cathy May 12, 2021 at 3:06 pm

    This reminds me of my ironing board–freestanding, wood, probably from the 1930s. It was my grandmother’s. I’ve used it to iron, and as a plant stand. But those cupboard ironing boards are such a great use of space.
    Just a note, the link to the Yamazaki Home blog brings up the headings, but not the text of the Q&A.

  • Reply S. Olscamp May 12, 2021 at 9:10 pm

    One of the secrets for keeping plants healthy in hot city environment such as a balcony or roof top with full sun and wind is to use pots larger then you think you need. The larger pot size will buffer your plants from drying out too fast. Thus the larger the pot the better. This also makes the gardeners life easier as as you may be able to reduce watering from twice a day (morning and night) to just once a day.
    Additionally if you want to go away for a couple of days for a vacation you can always move the plants inside (out of the direct roof top sun) and water well. In most cases your plants will be able to survive for several days before you will need someone to water them.

    Enjoy your roof top garden space. I am always amazed at the bees and birds who will respond to your tiny oasis. Plus the peace that comes from catching a glimpse of your space out of the corner of your eye cannot be measured.

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