Before, During & After - Custom Guitar Shaped Steel & Wood Dining Table & Bar

We asked a very creative and talented friend, Gary Gaines,to create a custom table and bar top for our new kitchen. We left a house where we added a really big island to our kitchen when we updated it. You can read about and see pictures of that island toward the end of this post.

We LOVED that big-ass island that opened up our kitchen and combined it with our den. It was a wonderful entertaining space. We wanted to keep that open feel in the new house, but we were working with a lot less space. There was not enough room for an island in this new kitchen. So we HAD to get creative.

BEFORE - Here is the the final-ish rough sketch we did of the layout of the new kitchen:

Sketch of the layout of our new kitchen. We weren't sure at the time if we could get at least a rounded peninsula off the cabinets or what exactly we could do to recreate our beloved open kitchen concept we were leaving at our old house. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

I gave a copy of this sketch to Gary and really the only other help I gave him was to say:

  • Instead of a counter-height or bar-height peninsula or island, I believe I would rather have it table height. As Ken and I grow older, it will become harder and harder to get up in a counter-height stool and especially a barstool.

  • Curves. We want it to be curvy because that is easier to sit extra people. Plus it looks groovy.

  • We bought butcher-block at Southeastern Salvage on March 15, 2015 to build both the table and the bar top.

  • I want a wood and metal combination since the counter-tops would be stainless steel.

The wood we purchased from Southeastern Salvage. The short pieces are wood shelves we used around the house (laundry room, under stairs closet, downstairs guest room). The long pieces are the butcher block we purchased for the table and bar. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

Gary took that information and ran with it. There were two more pieces of information that either Gary thought of or Ken or I thought of....I really don't remember who thought of what, and it doesn't matter. I give all the credit to Gary. His wicked building skills and amazing design imagination created something that I could NEVER have come up with. And I damn sure could have NEVER...EVER....pulled it off. I could go on and on about how talented Gary is. I'll save that for another post. I'm lucky to know him for more reasons than just his talent.

June 22, 2015 - Gary emailed his glorious ideas in an easy to read .pdf (no, Wix doesn't let you share .pdf's so I converted to .jpg...but I digress, annoyingly).

Here is Gary's initial diagram of his idea. The only changes we made were maybe dimensions to be sure it fit in the space and the bar-top (semi-oval here) we changed to be more wavy and curvy. STILL love Gary's AMAZING design. The guitar shaped table is cantilevered so that there are NO legs. As you can tell from the next image, the whole guitar pivots from the base that is bolted to the floor next to the half-wall. I love this table and bar. Have I said that? Copyright 2015 Gary Gaines - Gaines Graphic

This images shows how the guitar table pivots into the living room space. The middle gray bar is steel. The wood is the butcherblock we bought. The entire skeleton of the table is built from steel. The pivot base, steel. Notice a theme? Copyright 2015 Gary Gaines - Gaines Graphic

This is a profile/elevation diagram to show the wall, half-wall and where the table will be in relation to all of it. This view is from our living room looking into the dining room and kitchen area. Copyright 2015 Gary Gaines - Gaines Graphic

You can see that Gary put in a TON of thought into this design. Now, he is so talented that his thought and idea happened very quickly, but daaahhuuumm....look at that! I am in awe, and very proud....can you tell?

Gary came to the house to take more detailed measurements. He then made a foam core/gator board mock-up of both the table and the bar to make sure they fit.

You'll notice all the crap EVERYWHERE in these pictures. We had just done the first round of moving in to the house just before the table installation began. Why I feel the need to justify my clutter is, well....I have issues.


July 11, 2015 - Gary making sure the mock-up (in foam core) of the design will fit:

Gary Gaines checking the exact fit of the guitar shaped cantilevered table. This is a mock-up made of foam core/gator board. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson - SockOnARooster

Very blurry picture of the mock-up of the bar. It is hard to see here, but the bar wraps around the exposed edge of the wall. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

July 20, 2015 - Gary has the custom guitar shaped skeleton almost complete at Feature Display's workshop.

7-20-15 The making of a custom guitar shaped table. The steel skeleton is almost complete at Feature Display's workshop. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

July 23, 2015 - Gary brought over the custom guitar shaped table's skeleton to double check the fit and placement with the pivot base and pole.

July 24, 2015 - Gary, Sean, & Jason work together to install the custom guitar shaped table's base to the floor. A 2 x 6 was added to the end of the half wall to help support the base.

7-24-15 Gary cutting the notch in the bar top. He brought it over to double check the fit and to make sure the notch that fits around the kitchen wall is perfect when installed. You can see the guitar shaped table's steel skeleton beneath the bar top. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

July 25, 2015 - Gary takes the skeleton and bar top back to the shop to do the final finish sanding and attaches the wood to the steel skeleton. He enlists the help of his daughter Gara to help with the sanding. He reports that the sanding of that particular butcher block was tedious. The wood did not cut well. But since we got it at Southeastern Salvage, Lord only knows where it was made. Hey, budget rules and get what you pay for.

July 26, 2015 - Final installation of the the guitar shaped table into its already installed base and the bar top on the half wall.

You can see Gara, Gary's daughter helping him with the installation.

A note about some of the details of this project.

  • You'll notice in the pictures below, Gary even made two caps for the tubular steel of the middle detail. He fashioned them in such a way, that they can be removed if needed.

  • Notice also the care that went into mounting the bar top. The inset steel support was installed on the half wall so that the bar is appearing to float.

  • So much attention to detail went into this great table and bar top. So thankful and appreciative of the care that went into this project!

July 29, 2015 & July 30, 2015 - I applied the first coat of Tung Oil to the table and bar top on July 29 and the second coat on July 30. I used 00 steel wool to apply the oil and then used paper towel to dry off any excess. I did this for 2 coats this time. Later, as time went on, I applied another two coats sometime in the year 2016. I'm happy to report it is holding up very nicely.

You can see how the notched edge of the bar top fit nicely around the edge of the kitchen wall.

The timeline of this particular project was pretty quick.

  • 6/22/15 Gary emailed the first .pdf illustration.

  • 7/11/15 Gary is at the house with a full scale mock-up in foam core.

  • 7/20/15 Gary gets the skeleton of the table almost finished.

  • 7/23/15 Gary brings over skeleton to double check fit with base.

  • 7/24/15 Gary, Jason, & Sean do the initial install of base. Have to reinforce the end of the half-wall with a 2x6 stud (later was painted). Gary brings over bar top to check fit.

  • 7/25/15 Gary takes skeleton back to the shop to attach wood. Gary and Gara do the final sanding to prepare for final install.

  • 7/26/15 Gary does the final install of the table and the bar top.

  • 7/29/15 I put the first coat of the Tung Oil finish on both pieces

  • 7/30/15 I apply the second coat of Tung Oil finish on both pieces.

  • Done.

AFTER - The table and bar as they were shortly after we moved in:

The guitar shaped steel and wood cantilevered table with 4 different colored chairs. The bar top with pendant lights. This is after the finish was on both but before the paint went on the exposed 2x6 board that reinforces the table's base. Copyright 2015 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

If you want to read more about the inspiration and just why we wanted to continue the open concept, you can read about the big-ass island I designed for our previous house below. If not......

That is all.

Carry on.

Story of the Big Ass Island in our previous house:

One of the things we loved about our old house was the huge island in our kitchen. When we partially remodeled that house, I designed a big-ass island for the middle of it. The thing was so large, it would sit 12 easily. It was oval in shape and the base was ready-made, off the shelf box store lower cabinets. I designed it to be counter height, so that it was easier to use as both a dining space and extra counter space. The top was custom made and we chose a laminate top to match the laminate counter tops that we installed. Yes, I know laminate is so...pedestrian. But you know what, we did what we could afford. And honestly, I'm not one who loves stone counter tops for my personal home. When I help others with their kitchen or bathroom designs, stone is fine and can be beautiful. But I don't want to live with too much stone in my house. Why am I not in love with stone counter tops? They are damn expensive, they can be extremely heavy (make sure your cabinets and floors can support the extra weight), they are EVERYWHERE (they've been done to death), they require maintenance (require sealant), you have to be careful with the cleaning products you use on some stone, you can easily break ANYTHING that tips over on to them, and there can be a radon issue with them.

Regarding that radon; before you think I am overly health or environmentally conscious, I want you to know, I am not. However, there has been some anecdotal evidence that some of the stone deeper in color can indeed contain radon. I'm not saying that this is something to worry about, I'm just adding it to the list of why I would rather not have too much granite in my house, especially since I live in a house built in 1967.

And maybe it is just something I tell myself to justify not spending an arm and a left tit on countertops. Who can really know.

Here are some pictures of the big-ass island from our old kitchen:

Big-Ass island I designed from stock cabinets and a custom made oval laminate top. The island could seat 12. Copyright 2006 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

We did an update (partial remodel) to our kitchen. We couldn't afford to do a gut, nor did we want to live through a gutting of this kitchen. The vinyl floors were removed and we did bamboo floors in the den and kitchen. We removed a half-wall/bar that ran from the small wall to the right into the kitchen and stopped just to the left of that first red spot-light. I painted the paneling in the den white (this was the cheap 70's paneling, not the good knotty pine). Then we added the island. We added lighting above the island and in the fur-down above the cabinets. We replaced all the old laminate counter tops with new. Yes, we kept the original cabinets but added new pulls and a tile border around the counter tops and stove backsplash. This freshened up the kitchen and saved us a TON of money. Copyright 2006 Marla Baxter Sanderson -

This gives you an idea of our old home and how we really loved the open concept and wanted to keep that in our new downsized home.

You'll also notice that the pendant fixture is identical to the fixture we have now. No, we didn't take the fixture when we sold the house. We spent a lot of time on Ebay to find a duplicate. We liked it THAT much. Yes, we bought extra glass pendants in case we break any of them. We bought the original fixture at Lowes. It is Tiella lighting. I could do an Amazon link to some comparable fixtures, but since none are this, I'm not going to bother.

If you read this far.....Thanks.

That is all. (again)

Carry on. (again)

P.S. I'm having some complaints about WIX blogs.

Indulge my bitch:

If Wix allowed anchors in their blog posts, I could have a link to that information at the top that would take the reader to the bottom. But no....Oy.

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