Before you order kitchen counters, consider this tip!




I tried to draw as little attention to it in my post on the greatest refrigerator in the land, but pretty much every one of you spotted the hole in my countertop. Seriously. You people are freakish. I’m gonna start leaving weird things around in my photos just to see who spots it.

One of the few thing I absolutely knew I wanted for the new kitchen was the countertops.  There was no stressing out and no decision to be made. They were going to be made out of the braided beards of forest Gnomes.  Sturdy stuff.  And I mean everybody’s using it so it must be great.  You see it on all the design shows now.

Turns out Gnome beards are harder to find than you’d think.  So I went with my second choice … butcher block.

I ordered the custom made butcher block counters from Chris’ Store Fixtures.  They’re inch and a half solid maple.






Some time years and years ago. Like, probably 20 years ago, I remember seeing a hole cut into someone’s countertop so they could just wipe all their cuttings and peelings into it. I never, ever, EVER forgot that. It was the most genius thing my infantile little brain had ever imagined. Even smarter than super sized bags of chips.

I always thought that I’d get it done if I was ever lucky enough to redo a kitchen. That of course was when I was so infantile I thought redoing a kitchen was fun, FUN, F U N.

But when the time came to order my butcher block countertop I almost didn’t order the hole cut into it. It’s a scary thing to have a hole put in your very expensive custom made hunk of wood. If I ever built a house, I’m guessing I wouldn’t have the nerve to put in doors or windows. The only entryway would be down the chimney.

But just before I ordered the counters I thought “This is stupid. I’ve been dreaming of this hole for 20 years. If I don’t get it now I never will.”. So I proceeded to figure out exactly where I thought this waste hole should be and how big.

I ended up putting it near my refrigerator (as you found out) in front of the window looking into my backyard. It’s my longest expanse of counter and where I figured I’d be doing most of my prep work because it is close to the fridge and there’s lots of room.

I wanted the lid to basically disappear and be flush with the counter when it wasn’t in use so I had a lid made out of the same butcher block material and inserted a brass pull ring myself.

To stop the lid from falling through the hole, I’ve just screwed in some shelf supports underneath for the lid to rest on.  I may find a better solution later, but for now it works well and I can pull the stops out to clean them.

The countertop waste hole is neat and tidy and easily one of the smartest things I did in the kitchen. Everything just gets brushed into the hole where a large bucket sits underneath. Then once a week I pull the bucket out and take it  to either the compost pile, the chickens, or the green bin. I didn’t have the lid until a few days ago so it was just a gaping hole, but there isn’t any smell from it.   Meat is what would stink up in a few days but vegetable peelings are fine.

And even though I don’t put meat into it, if I knew I was going to empty the bucket right away then I would. And could.  It’s Karen’s Kitchen!  ANYTHING can happen.  At the moment I’m using the kitchen to do a little bit of bumble bee taxidermy.  Just kidding.  It’s not really taxidermy so much as preserving.

There are two lessons for you in this post.  #1 Have courage.  Don’t be that person who has always dreamed of something and when the time comes to do it you chicken out.  #2.  Ask  yourself why you like something. Is it because you saw it on a design show or because everyone else has it?  Or is it because it’s what you truly love and want and need.

Because frankly I think braided Gnome beard counters are hideous.


  1. Emily E Lindley says:

    Hi Karen! Would you please update us on how this all worked out for you? I am currently in the design phase of a new kitchen (love yours!) and this is a dream come true. There are contraptions made for this very purpose but they are quite pricey and they don’t have the lid to match the worktop. Would love to see what you did with yours. Thanks so much!

    • Karen says:

      Hi Emily! It has worked out great! I love my countertop hole. What I ended up doing was cutting a hole in a piece of plywood (the hole being just slightly smaller than the hole in the counter.) Then I screwed that piece of plywood under the counter with the hole in the plywood directly under the hole in the counter. This created a small lip so I could set a stainless steel bucket in the hole. You have to shim the plywood so it’s dropped down from the counter by whatever the thickness of your bucket lip is. I realize that sounds confusing but I couldn’t describe it any better, lol. ~ karen!

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  3. Valerie says:

    Oh nevermind, you already thought of all that haha. Just saw the comments. X)

  4. Valerie says:

    I have an idea for the scrap hole. For the lid, imagine a solid wood cone, with the tip facing down. Cut off the upper inch or two of it, so you have a lid with the top wider than the bottom. Then just cut the hole in the countertop with the top of the opening wider than the bottom of the opening. Easier to clean, nothing to pull out and put back in (except for the lid), the lid just rests on the slanted walls of the opening, and the scraps just slide right in. No shelf supports for the veggies to get caught on, or for moisture and veggie scraps to get caught between them and the counter bottom to rot and make your chopping block counters stink and get moldy.
    I wonder if you could cut the slanted ring out of the counter opening and flip it upside down and glue it or screw it onto the lid. Save you the trouble of cutting a whole ‘nother countertop… If you don’t understand what I’m saying, lemme know and I’ll draw some pictures and send them to you to show you what I mean. That is, if you’re interested in the idea. :)

  5. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Karen, I just ran across this and thought of you. although you probably don’t want another hole in your counter….but seriously, isn’t this perfect?

    • Karen says:

      LOL! That’s hilarious. I was expecting a big hole with a vase inserted beneath it … not a single tiny hole! ~ karen

  6. Deb Roby says:

    Beautiful waste hole! I saw whatever that same TV show was. (was it a This Old House?)

    With the hole on an outside wall, you could even build a box (mini walls) around the bucket, then open the external wall up. Just walk outside, get bucket, and go! But THAT is harder than it sounds!

  7. Pam'a says:

    I may not have a hole in my counter, but one of the best things I ever did was put my under-the-sink trash can on runners so I can slide it out and toss things in from almost anywhere in the kitchen.

    As for my “impossible dream” … I have two. The first is to have a drain in the middle of the kitchen floor so I could hose the whole thing down. The second (slightly more realistic) one would be a foot pedal that turns on the tap– for when your hands are too full/dirty to grab the handles.

  8. Angela says:


  9. danni says:

    My grandparents had a plastic strainer in their sink at all times for compost. It was shaped like a triangle, so it fit in the corner. I’d bet my life it was Tupperware, but I have tried to find one to no avail. It went out every day or every other, no smell. These were practical people, this is a low-cost way to keep trash from compost. Of course, they also thought spent cigarettes were a wonderful addition to the compost pile. I have one of those seriously deep Irish farm sinks, so it wouldn’t show unlike my hideous government-issued compost bin that we are forced to use in lovely Portland, Ore. I’ve got three teenagers. I’d pay in braided beards of forest Gnomes if they’d accept it, ANTHING, for weekly garbage back.

  10. Nancy says:

    This is beautiful! Actually I’m so glad it’s not granite, I would happy with anything you did. When we retire, I will have to build cause I hate granite and it’s everywhere. I think it will be a very expensive version of avocado and mauve of yesteryear. I know, it’s all about me. The refrigerator is lovely, if you can say that about a frig.

  11. dana says:

    I love it! I really do. Its a great idea. I have seen them before but they were square. Are you really sure that little fruit flies wont find your peelings, though? They find their way inside my compost pail that is closed within a day or two. Your countertops are really pretty. They look so smooth. Will you leave them like that or will they darken? Will you oil them? Seriously, Karen, I can’t stand the wait until we see your kitchen! When???

  12. I have seen this before, but of course forgot about it when I did my kitchen reno… so I’ll just keep wiping the clippings into my hand and put it in the garbage or compost. haha It’s a very nice addition to a wood counter, would it work with other kinds too I wonder? like quartz, or granite?

  13. Sue says:

    I have a hole in my counter as well. I used it for my sewing machine! My kitchen is large enough that one side of it has all of my craft things, the other is the kitchen. My counter for the craft area is laminate, so yes Erin, you can cut a hole in laminate and have the laminated plug to match. I bought a pop up thingy to mount sewing machine on, and mounted it inside a 2 door cabinet. When not in use, it pops down inside the cabinet. What’s nice about that is, when we have dinner parties, I use that counter area for the food! Like a buffet. It’s perfect!
    Rubber bands on the peeler? The only thing I can think of, for a better grip? Karen, you’ve got to tell us!

  14. Debbie says:

    The rubber bands – please, Karen, what’s with the rubber bands???

  15. Linda G says:

    I’m so glad you got the hole you always wanted (that sounded better in my head). If I had thought of this I would have talked myself out of it over the “how do I get it to not fall through” issue. I overthink everything. Ugh.

    • Hannah says:

      My engineer’s brain immediately thought of a solution. Just cut the circular hole at an angle: wider at the top than the bottom. It would be impossible for it to fall through.

      • Cheverly says:

        Thanks, Hannah. We’re going to be installing our own butcher block countertops soon(ish), and this is a great idea!

  16. Jennifer says:

    We had a hole in our floor when we bought our fixer upper house. It was really nice during the reno to sweep stuff in the hold! I shoved a wheelbarrow under the hole which was in a basement. This is a smaller version!! LOVE! I also have butcher block counters and wouldn’t have any other. If there’s oil or butter spilled on it, no problem! Sometimes I’ll find a water spot on the counter and rub a bit of oil on it and it goes away. I also got a sharpie mark on it..just sanded it and it’s gone. Wood is so forgiving. Your pic makes me want to get out my jigsaw and router and make one of those hoe’s!

  17. Raymonde says:

    I had friends who had such a hole in their kitchen, I thought it was brilliant! So, I jumped at the chance to put a scrap hole in the island of my former kitchen. The problem was that I put it so far in the middle of my very deep island, that I either lost a ton of storage space in front of the garbage can, or that I had to move everything around when I wanted to take it out… Good idea, major fail… I guess you have to fail to learn! ;-)

  18. Leslie says:

    It’s a great feature! Good for you for letting yourself have it.

  19. Louise says:

    I want you to do a video of you pushing the scraps into the hole. Your photos are great, but a video would give us the “real experience.” We could all cheer and scream when the scraps disappear. You could accompany it with the theme from “Rocky” or some other piece that sounds triumphant.

  20. Kim from Milwaukee says:

    Love that scrap hole!! I’m envisioning extra powerful imbedded magnets along the inside….not sure how they would get there, but I’m thinking it might work…

    Thank you for sharing your kitchen reno with us Karen…so many ideas floating around in my head now!

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