Monday, February 4, 2013

DIY Kitchen Island Update

Check it off the to-do list for 2013!

A few weeks ago I showed you my painted kitchen cabinets - I am still so thrilled with how they turned out!

But there is still work to be done.

#1 on that list was the island.  It's a great size, has ample storage and we use it a ton for entertaining, crafts and food prep.  But it left a little to be desired in the "good looks" department.

Here's a before, pre-paint:

You can see, like a lot of standard kitchen and bathroom cabinetry, the face of all our cabinets is nice quality wood.  The sides, however, are veneer engineered to *look* like the oak... a much cheaper product that is pretty common.  I always hated the look of those sides, and that was one of the best things about painting the cabinets--covering that up!

Paint was definitely an improvement, however the veneer doesn't take paint as well as real wood does, even with a good primer.

On the ends of my base and upper cabinets, I added bead board wallpaper to hide the veneer and add a little texture (just like I did in this bathroom).

But in our house, the kitchen island is a hardworking fixture, and I knew that if I used the wallpaper, it wouldn't be long before it was scuffed or dented or torn.  The island needed something a little more durable that could really take a beating but still maintain its integrity.

I loved the bead board look and wanted to continue that, so I went to Home Depot for the real-deal.
I had planned on purchasing pre-primed MDF bead board panels.  However when I got to Home Depot, they had these real oak panels on sale for less than the MDF so I jumped on that!  Normally these are about $14 a panel, and I got them for just under $9.  Hooray!

To save time (and labor, ha!), I took my measurements with me and had my handy Home Depot associate cut my panels for me there in the store.  Seriously, this is the greatest service and it's free!
I brought them home and we were ready to roll.

I also picked up two of these half-newel posts.  Normally they are for detailing banisters on stairways.
Not today. :)

You'd find a full newel post at the end of your stair banister.  These are cross cut so that one side is completely flat and can be put flush against a wall.

I started by adding the bead board panels to the sides and securing with liquid nails (use the version meant for indoor woodworking projects.  It goes on like buttah and dries super quickly) while Mr. V. lent a hand and removed the quarter-round shoe trim from the backside of the island.  One thing I liked about the island's original design is the quasi-board and batten look on this side of the island.  I planned to keep that, but add bead board detail to the inside of the
I used liquid nails once again to secure the newel post flush against the edge of the island
(you'll note I trimmed down the posts to fit under my counter.  I lopped off the ball on top and also trimmed from the bottom for a little more even look.
Let the panels dry before nailing in to secure.

For the trim, I wanted to continue the board and batten style that's on the back side of the island, so I used a piece of primed MDF as my baseboard.  You can buy one long plank at HD for about $10.  I trimmed what I needed, adhered it to the island, and then nailed it to secure.

Once everything was dry and secure, I filled my nail holes and spackled the joints to make them disappear.  I really love the version from DAP that goes on purple, and then turns white when it's dry.
Once dry, I gave it a good sanding and the joints are just about invisible.

From there, everything got a couple coats of primer and paint, and the end result is a custom-finished look that I love!


I added bun feet to the drawer-side of the island to mimic the turned leg of the newel post, and then I also added them to the rest of my cabinets for an even more custom look.

It's just how I hoped it would turn out!

Next stop in the kitchen makeover saga... BACKSPLASH.
Oh yeah.  :)

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  1. Oh wow! I really love what you did with your island. It really gave it a fresh, new look. Great job.

    Feel free to link up with me for {MoonSHINE Monday}! Have a great day :)


  2. The island looks so pretty! We just painted our cabinets too, and my island needs a little love as well- yours is great inspiration! =)

  3. Emily I love the update to your island. Your kitchen looks fabulous.

  4. Looks fabulous! My hubs and I had just decided to add beadboard to our island... So we will see! Thanks for the inspiration: new follower!


  5. Emily your kitchen island is stunning and the before and after is amazing! Love your kitchen! Would love for you to share at the party tonight! xo bridgett

  6. It looks beautiful! I am wanting to do something similar under my breakfast counter. Thank you for the inspiration!

  7. Wow! Beautiful transformation! I love the new look! Great tutorial/tips too! Thanks so much for sharing, Emily!

  8. That looks amazing! I love the custom look of it all! I want to copy it. :)

  9. What a difference! It looks fantastic. Enjoy it!!

  10. Love it! We are about to tackle painting our kitchen cabinets and I'm planning to add little feet to ours also. What color did you use? That's the hardest part in the planning phase, picking which white to use! So may choices!

  11. Great job on the island - love how you added the half post!

  12. Your island makeover is fantastic. I am planning an island transformation of my own and your post was full of great ideas. Thanks for the inspiration.

  13. Genius idea! Love your blog! Thanks for the great tips, excellent photos and step-by-step list. Jacki at

  14. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  15. I love the island makeover! Where did you find the bun feet for the island? I think I may give that a try :) Such a great job!

    1. Hi Maureen! Thanks for the compliments!

      I found the bun feet at Lowe's (Home Depot carries some, too, just a couple different styles). They're in the aisle by all the trim and table legs. They come unfinished so you can stain or paint however you choose. If you paint, definitely prime and sand first, because they are super porous and will suck up all your paint and end up really rough. [I learned that one the hard way ;) ] Depending on the style you choose, they run about $6-$8 each. Not cheap, exactly, but they do add a super custom look.

      Good Luck!

  16. What color did you use to paint the cabinets?

  17. I actually used a custom color from Sherwin Williams (I needed to match it to the color of my doors). I took a picture of the code for the color, and it's posted in this post here: if you take that photo to your local SW store, they'll be able to mix this exact shade for you. I got it done in their ProClassic paint, in semi-gloss.

  18. did you have to cut the tops of the feet so they would fit in the space? how did you attach them to the cabinet?

    1. We only had to trim one (?!) - apparently we have an uneven spot in our floors? But the others I didn't. I did use a pair of pliers to unscrew the screw that comes in the bun feet. As for attaching them.... Shh, don't tell but they are just hot glued under there! I didn't know if I was going to want the. To be there permanently, so I hot glued them for a trial. Well, it worked out just fine so I just left them that way. I do like the idea of having the option of removing them without leaving any damage or holes in my cabinetry. Hot glue, who knew? ;)


  19. Hello!

    Your island looks great!

    I've got a question about the newel posts, did the shop cut them for you?


    1. I went ahead and cut them myself once I got them home (I wanted to double check my measurements before cutting). Also, with pre-packaged items (like the posts) that aren't pay-by-length like trim, I'm not sure if you're allowed to cut them prior to purchase. Might be worth asking about though!
      Good Luck!


  20. What good timing for stumbling upon thi post - I am knee deep in a DIY kitchen update myself

  21. Your island looks great. I am using some of your ideas for my island. I have a question. I have a standard 4.5 inches between my floor and the cabinet base but cannot find a 4.5 inch mdf plank - just curious what size plank you used. Thinking of using a smaller one and adding shoe moulding.

  22. Emily - I could almost cry I'm so excited! You have totally given me hope. We just bought a great house, but the kitchen has those classic blonde oak looking cabinets and I was doubting that they could be painted and look good. I've wanted white cabinets for so long. I can't for the life of me find the actual tutorial for painting the cabinets. Could you link it here? I was searching for ways to customize the island and wainscoting was exactly what I had in mind so I'm so glad pinterest led me to you!

  23. Wow this is really gorgeous!and This is so, so beautiful. I love it

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