Countertop Waste Hole.
And the butcher block counter.




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. Mandy says:

    That counter top scrap hole is such an awesome idea. Love that!

  2. CBuffy says:

    Hole shmole… I was just so excited to see a J-cloth! I grew up in Calgary and took them for granted. Now I live in Florida and haven’t been able to find anything nearly as good. Maybe I’ll ask Mom to send me a pack for my birthday!

    • Kristin Ferguson says:

      That’s so funny! I saw that cloth and instantly thought of Ireland/England, where I spent some years in my young adulthood/early motherhood, and they were ubiquitous over there. I admit though that I now love the super-absorbant, washable soft cloths I buy at Trader Joe’s.

  3. jainegayer says:

    I love the counter hole (genius) and the wood. You just chop right on it? How do you care for it?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jaine – I oil it once a week with mineral oil to keep it from drying out. That will be cut down to once a month after the counter gets a bit older. Maple is a very hard wood that actually self heals. It’s meant for cutting on. So nothing special needs to be done. Just cut on it, the way you would a cutting board, then wipe it clean. Butcher block also has antibacterial properties that in fact make cutting meat or anything like that safer than cutting on any other material. ~ karen!

      • jainegayer says:

        I have always wanted a butcher block counter (kinda like you never forgot the “hole”) but was always told I was looking for trouble. Now I know if I ever get the chance to do a counter, I will stick with my dream butcher block counter. Thank you Karen, for inspiring me to have courage.

  4. Feral Turtle says:

    Geez I thought I had one upped you with my braided Gnome beard counters and then you go hating them. I must admit, they are a bit of a pain to shampoo. Love your slop hole…pure genius! (that sounded so wrong)

  5. Su says:

    Nice. I keep a covered crock on the counter for peelings but that involves taking off the lid and holding it next to the counter to swipe into…. sigh….

  6. Sally A says:

    I would guess the rubber bands are for a better grip on the peeler? Love the hole! Glad you didn’t chicken out. The handle is awesome!

  7. Tori says:

    You could re-cut the hole on a 45 degree angle. But then you’d need to find matching wood to re-cut the lid larger as well.

  8. Jennifer Daily says:

    What’s the deal with all the rubber bands around the vegetable peeler?

  9. Tigersmom says:

    Ingenious of you to make the shelf supports removable so they can be cleaned. Otherwise those could get naaaaaaaaaasstyyyy.

    And thank you to Ella for saving me from having to ask about your oil container.

    I do have a question, though: I know you covered it in a post but I can’t remember the reason for having the rubber bands around the handle of the vegetable peeler. Can you please refresh my memory?

  10. Jody says:

    Great idea to hide weird things in your photos. It will be like playing Where’s Waldo.

  11. Carol Hogan says:

    Did I miss the explanation of rubber bands on the vegetable peeler in some previous post? I never know what to do with the large rubber bands that come on my bunches of broccoli, herbs etc. They seem too good to throw away. But, I don’t think I would store them on the vegetable peeler. Into the junk drawer they go.

    Meantime, I too would obsess about lining up the grain on the hole cover. OCD can be a terrible thing.

  12. Renee McNiffe says:

    I think your hole is a great idea. My only worry would be fruit flies. When I collect my scraps for composting and I don’t put a tight sealed lid on it, I will have fruit flies. Maybe you don’t have fruit flies in Canada?

    • Pat says:

      I fight the fruit flies in British Columbia. I have a Lee Valley stainless steel compost pail under my sink for my scraps, but it has a lid. Easy to toss in the dishwasher, doesn’t retain odours, it certainly has worked for me.

      • Oriah says:

        I like the idea too but my first thought was, “Do they have fruit flies in Canada?” …and not to be grody but i’d be afraid little maggots would take up residence in my cupboards. Bleck.

      • Karen says:

        Hi Oriah. We do have fruit flies but to remedy that one would have to do is use a pot/bucket that drops into the hole with a lid. As far as maggots go, maggots only breed on meat. And I don’t put meat in the compost pail. ~ karen!

  13. Dagmar says:

    Hi Karen, your kitchen is a dream. Can I come over to just clean it. Really, it is so pretty, that it looks like even cleaning it would be a pleasure (I don’t cook, so it’s not like I could do much else in there anyway). But from the picture, how come the cover looks like the wood is much lighter than the actual butcher-block. Is that just a photographic optical-illusion? It must be. On my computer, it looks like your counter is a maple colour, and the round cover is a butter colour. Huh, I wonder why?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Dagmar – The counters are the exact same material, the lid just hasn’t been oiled quite as much because I got the lid a few weeks after I got the countertop. When you first get butcher block counters you have to coat them with mineral oil. 5 or 6 coats to start, until they stop soaking up the oil. Then they get oiled once a week for several months and then once a month. The lid just needs a few more mineral oil treatments to darken it up. ~ karen!

  14. Allison says:

    Forgot to ask … do you obsess about lining up the grain properly? I totally would. <3

    • Karen says:

      Yes I do obsess over that a tiny bit, and the tabs are there just for now until I come up with a permanent solution. For the moment I just don’t have time to figure it out/go searching for the right thing. ~ karen!

  15. Allison says:

    Love the fridge, love the hole but those tabs gotta go! Could you add some sort of stopper ring underneath that would hold a little bag in place? Maybe some kind of industrial size washer or heck one of those little round boat windows without the glass. Just a little lip. xoxo

  16. Susie Heller says:

    What a great idea, the hole not the gnome beards. However in our house it would have to be large as some of my meals are less than wonderful. I want a sign that reads: “I only have a kitchen because it came with the house.”

  17. Sia says:

    Once, a long time ago, I fell off my seat laughing at your Oscar statues.
    Soon after, I pitied you for having a dirty dirty iPhone screen protector and thought I could save you.
    THEN, I was furious at you for telling us to save up by using less paper towel.
    Consequence… , I considered ratting you out to Canadian customs about your seeds.
    Recently, I noticed “the hole”.
    Now, I am trying to wash this envious green off me, to no avail.

    This relationship is exhausting.

  18. Susan says:

    You are seriously hilarious! And smart, one of my super pet peeves is cleaning up the veggie scraps. It would be heavenly to just swipe them into a hole. I enjoy your posting so much, great sense of humour, you always make me smile over and over when I read them. :D

    • Debbie says:

      I got a cutting board with a removable, collapsible colander in a hole in the board. I lay it across the sink and cut/chop/peel away. I brush all that is not edible into the colander, take it out of the cutting board and dump it wherever I want. It has been working well, though I’d love the hole thingy in my countertop!

  19. Laura Bee says:

    Ooh a bonus peek! Thank you! Trying to figure out what is in the other two corners. Mine are filled with a tiny pantry cupboard, the fridge, a big pantry & the stove & nearly useless piece of counter top with the only drawers in the kitchen. It is to the left of the stove. To the right is a cupboard where I would like the drawers -beside the dishwasher. Whoever installed this kitchen was a wanker. I am rambling again, sorry.
    I have wanted one of those holes since 1990 or so when I was working at at greasy spoon that had one on the back counter. I flung old coffee grinds into it most of the time. (I served a lot of coffee at that place!) What a mess when I missed! It was a stainless steel counter. Which is what I would love in my dream kitchen. With a butcher block topped island with two stacks of drawers. Plus those big pot drawers would be nice. Did you get the big drawers? Can’t wait for the next corner!

  20. Mindy says:

    I still remember the first time I saw the counter hole, too. Great idea. Love the pull you chose.

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Mindy. I’m really happy with it. And of course, there will be a post on how to install one of those babies coming up. :) ~ karen

  21. Pat says:

    Very clever and brave of you. So glad you made the leap and love it. The compost container is always a bit of an issue of “where?” I have a Lee Valley squarish one that I attached to the inside of the under sink cupboard door then often peel things straight into it. Not as easy as your new method.
    By the way, your kitchen organizing tip of keeping the measuring spoons unattached in a container on the counter is the BEST thing. It makes you realize how many times you open the drawer to get the darn things out. I followed your suggestion and bought another set. Simple, doable and a timesaver!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Pat! I’m giving a cooking lesson tomorrow morning and in getting things organized I looked at my mini-crock with my measuring spoons in it and thought *this really IS a good idea*, lol. ~ karen!

      • Beckie says:

        I, too, loved the measuring spoons on the counter idea…and when I went digging, found I had several sets plus some nomad spoons that lost a partner or two. Doesn’t matter. Now they all live in the same coffee mug on my counter, right next to the stove. Genius!

      • Rebecca says:

        The 2nd set of measuring spoons/cups is a really fantastic idea! We have a butcher block counter but no hole so I have to move the garbage can over….it’s not that bad but this ^^ would be awesome to have.

    • Penley says:

      Hi Pat,

      I have the same issue with my compost container – have been on the lookout for something not hideous for ages, but to no avail. I love Karen’s idea of a hole in the counter tops, will have to keep that in mind when we’re redoing the kitchen. Probably not going to work so well where I am as we are bug life central (Brisbane, Australia in a particularly leafy, greeny, possums, turkeys and water dragons kind of subtropical area) so keeping the critters out of an open container for even a day would be nigh on impossible.

      The measuring spoons idea though? Golden. When Karen mentioned that the next time I was in a kitchen store I got a second set. What the hell was I doing before this revelation??? :)

  22. Erin says:

    Fantastic! I wonder if i can pull this off in my laminate countertop! (And you realize that many readers will want to know where you got that cute little pitcher from. totally preemptive. but be prepared! :-)) many of us see and love what you have!

  23. Ella says:

    BTW-What is that white spouted thing on the window sill between the plants?

    • Karen says:

      That my dear, is a very, VERY inexpensive bottle for olive oil. I think it was $2 at my local grocery store. I keep olive oil in it so any time I cook I don’t need to pull out the jug of olive oil for the pan. ~ karen!

      • Patti says:

        Okay, so I totally saw that container at the grocery store and couldn’t figure out what it would be used for and you just saved the day and solved my mystery! Thanks!

    • Ruth says:

      I was just about to ask the same question… :-D

  24. Ella says:

    Yay! I’m so glad you explained it! I couldn’t wait for this post. Very cool!

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