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Lauren Yates, Vintage Step-Ladder/Ironing Board – Item Number One

Name, Age, and Occupation?

Lauren Yates, 28, Designer & Photographer.

What is the thing you have owned the longest?

This homemade step-ladder come ironing board from the 40s that I use as a kitchen workhorse.

How long have you had it?

I’m going to be honest with you, only about a year because my partner and I relocated from Asia and kinda started from scratch here in France. I chose this piece because it has truly become one of the most useful things in my kitchen, and in this house the kitchen is a life-force.

How did you come to possess it?

Stumbled across it at a country flea market, it was the seller’s grandfather’s and he had made it himself – what a genius! I love making my own custom carpentry for my own house so this piece spoke to me.

Why have you kept it so long?

I love the story that it carries and how functional it was made to be. Why not make a step ladder that also functions as an ironing board or table?? It’s useful, humble, ultra durable, and makes noises like old creaky floor boards.

When was the last time you used it?

This morning I made my breakfast on it.

Have you made any customizations, modifications, or repairs?

Every so often I give it a complete wipe down with a pine resin based soap to stop insects from eating into the wood (a big problem for old wooden pieces) and after it dries I give it a full coat of linseed oil to keep the wood moisturized.

If someone were to offer you a brand new version of your item to trade for your old one, would you take it?

Of course not! First of all I don’t think this unique piece exists anywhere else, and of course the charm of the wood is how it has aged with mite holes along the wood and paint splatters from years ago. The support beam that holds the table up is charmingly wonky and obviously homemade, and each joint I can see was carefully carved to fit its partner by hand. I can see the marks from the hand held tools it was made from, and all of that adds to its character. It has much beauty thanks to all of its strangeness.


You can find out more about Lauren and her work on her clothing brand, W’menswear, and on her blog, Ponytail Journal.