What to Consider Before Buying a Dough Bowl

Have you always wanted a dough bowl? Before buying, get these tips and ideas…plus learn how to make an easy dough bowl centerpiece that is versatile and beautiful!

dough bowl centerpiece with lantern and cherry blossoms

What is a dough bowl?

A dough bowl, or sometimes called a trencher, is a wooden vessel used to mix bread dough. Dating back to colonial times, these bowls were found in every home, and were carved from a large piece of wood. These pieces of art were perfect for letting bread dough rise, because the wood was a natural insulation, and kept the yeast warm. The family dough bowl was a treasured and vital kitchen tool, and was passed down from mother to daughter. Today, these authentic pieces of history are a sought-after accessory for lovers of farmhouse and country French decor.

dough bowl reproduction on ivory table runner

Personally, I’ve always been fascinated by dough bowls. They have a vintage charm that is perfect for seasonal decorating, and decor that features natural elements. Literally anything looks good in one of these beauties! Like the women who sewed grain sacks, I’ve often wondered about the women who stood at long tables, making bread for their families in these hand-carved trenchers. I like to think they would be happy that we are honoring their way of life.

dough bowl with white lantern

Buying Tips

  • Determine what size you want & how you want to use it.
    • Before purchasing a dough bowl, consider how and where you want to use it, and that in turn will help you decide what size to get. If you want to use it as a dining table centerpiece, you could go with a bigger size. If you want to use it on a coffee table, or kitchen island, a smaller size would be better. The good thing is that dough bowls come in numerous shapes and endless sizes. With some savvy shopping, you will be able to find exactly what you want.
  • Decide on a budget.
    • Dough bowls can be very expensive…but they are an investment piece, and will literally last a lifetime. Reproductions start in the range of $30.00 and up. Authentic ones can be pricey, so be prepared to pay more.
  • Authentic or reproduction?
    • I’ve saved the hardest decision for last. Deep down, I would love to have a vintage dough bowl from the 1800’s. When I first fell in love with farmhouse style, I wanted everything to be authentic. I wanted vintage ironstone and antique European grain sacks. Over the years, I have become more relaxed,  and now sprinkle reproductions in with my antiques. My decision to buy a reproduction dough bowl was based on two things. First, the reproductions are very good. To my untrained eye, I find it hard to tell the difference between authentic bowls and reproductions. Second, was the price. Plain and simple, I didn’t want to pay hundreds of dollars for a decor accessory. So…at the end of the day, this is actually a very personal decision, and one to think about carefully before purchasing.

dough bowl centerpiece with candle lantern

Styling Tips

In my opinion, anything can be made more beautiful by placing it in a dough bowl. There are no styling rules, so simply use things you love. My dough bowl centerpiece began with a candle lantern. After that, I nestled faux pink cherry blossoms around the lantern. In under 15 minutes, this farmhouse inspired centerpiece was finished.

Other ideas are: fresh or faux fruit, foraged greenery, moss balls, seed pods, dried flowers, pine cones, faux succulents, nests, or small wreaths.

Add softness with fabric: a dough bowl is very hard, and although there are curved lines, it can look stark or cold. To add softness and warmth, simply place one of your favorite tea towels on the bottom before beginning your arrangement. Let the edges of the towel drape over the sides of the dough bowl. This added layer brings in color and texture as well.

fall diy decorating ideas pumpkins in dough bowl

An arranging tip: if your dough bowl is long, or very deep, it’s best to add some sort of filler in the bottom. This takes care of two things. First, it gives your decorative items a good, solid base. Second, it raises the decorative items up, so you don’t need as many. Examples that make great fillers are plastic grocery bags, tissue paper, and packing peanuts or pillows. You can also use natural items (like pine cones) as filler.

Cleaning and Care: to clean your dough bowl, prepare a mixture of one part white vinegar to 5 parts warm water. Apply the water mixture with a soft rag or sponge. Carefully dry your bowl, and follow up with a light layer of food-grade mineral oil. Let the mineral oil soak in for several hours, or overnight, and then gently buff with a clean rag.

dough bowl centerpiece in dining room with board and batten

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Dough Bowls: click each image to shop!

All the dough bowls featured below are reproductions. See the links to Etsy and eBay for authentic versions.



candle lantern centerpiece with cherry blossoms

If you’ve always wanted a dough bowl, I encourage to shop around and make the investment. Your friends and family may not understand what is so special about a big, plain wooden bowl…but I understand.

See this dough bowl decorated for fall!

Until next time…

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