DIY Kitchen Island, updated

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We had big plans on building a completely new island but as time passed we asked ourselves why we were going to go to all the trouble and expense since we are looking at this renovation just to sell the house?

When we discovered that the table legs we had our eye on vanished from the online store and we would have to go with a different size we decided to change plans altogether and make life easier. However, we had also trashed the doors so what to do!?

Here is the finish and countertop with dimensions of the original island:

kitchen island before drawer side dimedsions

We ended up using the same 3 drawer format and built new drawers that were flat against the surface to provide some interesting counterpoint to the other drawers in the kitchen. In any future kitchen I’m putting in lots and lots of drawers! We use these island drawers for spices as they are located across from the stove.

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The three sections below were originally hinged doors which I found really inconvenient as they opened into the aisle across from the stove and you couldn’t access anything in them easily as they were too deep. In this new version they are now pull out, appliance storage drawers (i.e. bread machine, crockpot, waffle machine etc…) with a pierced pattern on the front similar to a Farmhouse pie-cabinet look. LOVE THEM!

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Here is a diagram plan with measurements that we were working from:

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The exterior paint is a latex I found in the Lowe’s bargain bin and we added a black glaze on top to tone down the green. Two additional coats of Velvet Finishes, Protect poly were put on top of that. The stain on the doors and drawers is by General Finishes and is Antique Oak. The hardware is from a local store, Garbes, and the black granite countertop is by Hoffman, a local installer.

We still need to put in supporting brackets under the overhang (something I decided to add when the counter people came out to measure) and some touch ups on paint.

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We ended up loving this color so much that we’ve decided to go with it and repaint the entire base cabinetry to match.

The cream-white chalk paint we’ve lived with for 3 years is far too much trouble on base cabinetry – as this is where the spills mostly happen. Keeping it clean is almost impossible and any stain shows up on the cream -white. The cream-white base cabinetry against the white floor also doesn’t show up as well as I would like either as there isn’t enough contrast between colors.

The repaint is going to be a big pain in the neck, repaint job but it needs to happen. It was a mistake to go this direction but sometimes you don’t learn until you try something out.

Next up though is getting a new backsplash to show off our new granite counters.

Planning a kitchen island

This post I wrote as a draft three years ago… the island will have its new countertop Tuesday and I’ll update with photos. So this is a blast from the past. We decided to go a different direction but I still love these choices so check them out.

Redoing the kitchen included updating the kitchen island as part of the complete kitchen renovation.

The original cabinet is a three drawer and three door cabinet sitting on the cement foundation. Because there is no tile underneath, and we don’t plan on re-tiling the kitchen, the renovation has to take that factor into account. The island’s electrical box will also be moved to improve aesthetics.

One thing to help in the redesign is take photos from different angles you would enter the room. It helps to visualize the entire space. With this kitchen it’s three directions and these are the two most highly trafficked directions:

From the photos, the island looks just like a box, nothing special. It also blends in with the other cabinetry and just looks like more cabinetry. Fashion wise, today’s kitchen islands look more and more like furniture, preferably an “antique” that has been added to the kitchen either before or after it’s construction.

BTW changing your current island or installing a new one, check your code. There are specifics about how far the island can be placed from the stove, fridge, and dishwasher, as well as the width of walkways through the kitchen. You don’t want to change your island, only to find out you can’t remove your stove!

Looking over alot of ideas for kitchen islands and these were my favorites and why:

The blue island has awesome cornerlegs and I really like how the base molding is done. The only fault is the countertop should have been thicker too for better proportion.

I like the proportion of the upper with the lower, shorter leg on this table from Osbornewood.com. I also like the base shelf being completely open. Our design would need the baseboard to go all the way to the floor to conceal the lack of tile.

Another design with the bottom completely open from RealSimple.com. I think the advantage this design would make the kitchen appear larger. My only problem is how this space would be used for storage and is it realistic for how we use storage in our kitchen?

After reviewing what I liked and why, I know I want to keep the drawers. They are way useful and the kitchen runs a bit short on drawers. Another choice for storage would be baskets for holding onions, garlic, potatoes and other dry pantry items and/or vegetables. I like this idea as it would provide texture and country to the kitchen without going overboard.

Our original plan was this, which I love and may use one day however, for this house we completely went a different direction (and I’ll post later about why).

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Playing catch up with lots of house projects

Wow! It’s been a year since I posted! So I need to play catch up with what we got done on the house. One reason I haven’t been posting here is that lack of money kept us from getting much done on the house. Combine that with lack of time and you get a whole lot of lack of motivation.

However, come December, husband took time off of work so we got a lot of the little jobs that had been sitting around done and we are back to moving forward again.

1.) The Termite team came and sprayed. We had some damage on the front porch from these bugs and that needed to be treated. Once that got done, the wood siding came off, the plywood backing behind got replaced and new exterior boards put back on. We got a quote for $600 to do this; husband got it done for less then $40. Woohoo!

2.) We had two windows giving us troubles. One had a crack and the other had lost the seal so was getting moisture between the panes. This we did contract out for to have the glass replaced. Good as new. About $400 which was cheaper then I expected. If we could afford it, I’d replace all the windows with new but that isn’t happening.

3.) Front door latch which was brass was being cranky due to being worn out; I mean it was 20+ years old! That got replaced with a brush nickel pewter colored latch which looks a lot better with the black door and gray house paint. I’ll be repainting the door a fresh coat of black come summer.

4.) The front exterior wall lamps all got taken down and repainted. $16

5.) The Garage Door got some magnet faux hinges on it as an upgrade. $45.

6.) Our walk in pantry got a fresh facelift. Everything was dragged out, the ceiling repainted, the walls repainted, the shelving repainted and a couple of the shelves up high got cut back in depth (these were installed over 2 decades ago by us when we had specialty items that needed a deep shelf but the deep shelf cut back some of the light).

Because food items in the pantry can stain the shelves (an onion had really done a number on one shelf!), those shelves are now lined with clear, ribbed shelf liner from Bed, Bath and Beyond – so no I’m not repainting these again! Ha!

I’m still working on that pantry (buying more food containers, putting in a built in bin etc..) but I’ll do a reveal when we are done.

7.) The single large recessed light in the hallway to the laundry room also got replaced with two halogen recessed lights, the short ceiling replastered and repainted.

8.) Most of the winter centered around the Kitchen. Originally, the house had 7 recessed lights that were the old style, large recessed can. They never provided enough even light in the kitchen and especially in winter, gave a lot of shadows and were constantly burning out.

Husband replaced and rewired for 16 new recessed Halogen lights so they now match in style with the lights he put into the adjoining family room. They provide a lot of lovely light and give far more illumination to the kitchen area.

However, this was a massive job. Not only were the new lights an investment ($265 from Home Depot which had a better price then Lowes), but the ceiling had to have drywall patches put in, then the entire surface was replastered, and all of it repainted. Instead of using flat white wall paint which didn’t look so great against the creamy white cabinetry, we went with the wall color at 50% lighter which worked great as we have 10′ tall ceilings in there.

Working above your head is no fun! However, we are very lucky husband knows electrical because to have contracted this job out would have been well over $1,500 I’m sure as wiring for one outlet in the garage for husband’s pottery kiln was $300!

10.) The Kitchen Shelf unit FINALLY got painted. After debating again and again what I was going to do with the colors in the kitchen, I found a $5 gallon of paint at Lowes at closeout. I thought it would just be the undercolor (with a topcoat of cranberry red) but once it went on we both loved it so much we decided to go with it. It got a glaze of black on top but is not distressed.

I’ll be doing a reveal of that soon too but I’m waiting on the countertop.

11.) We first painted the Island with the same color as the Kitchen Shelf as a test. But once again, when it went on we really loved it as it provided a beautiful contrast against the cream white cabinetry.

It made us completely rethink our plans which was to rebuild the island from the ground up. Rebuilding the entire island would take quite a chunk of change, and we now know that in 3 years or less the house will be on the market – so was it worth it? Nope!

We will be redoing the island instead with different types of drawers. I’ll be posting about that in the near future too.

12.) Which brings us back to the Kitchen cabinetry that I did in Ce Ce Caldwell’s Chalk paint (the same problem would have happened with Annie Sloan) and topped with wax. A BIG reason I haven’t posted in this house blog is that project was a disaster I was not happy about at ALL.

Wax in no way will protect kitchen cabinets. And what to do about a protective coat when everything I know yellows when it is on top of white paint? I felt like house designer failure and it took me a long time (as you can tell from my blog posts) to feel like I wanted to tackle this problem again.

I even debated about repainting all the cabinetry AGAIN or calling in an expert to fix the problem. However, after doing a lot of research I’ve decided to go with Protect by Velvet Finishes. I’ll be cleaning up the chalk paint on there now, removing the wax that remains and going with Protect over the cabinet surfaces. Hopefully, this will fix the problem that I’ve been wrestling with for two years!

If I have a recommendation for you is don’t go with Chalk Paint in the Kitchen and if you do, use a medium to dark color so you can glaze and protect it with a top coat that won’t yellow over white.

So while yes, I’ll be posting again, it will not be on a very regular basis – only as projects get wrapped up or if there is one that I think is interesting enough you might want to know the process. See you soon!

New Stainless Steel stove vent hood installed

I ordered this stainless steel vent hood for the stove from Overstock. It’s a mid-range hood to replace the solid black one we once had and the SS is to go with the new appliances I plan on putting into the kitchen. The price was good – about $200 with the additional charcoal filters being bought with my Reward points. To get a super nice fan would have been well over $600 and I simply wasn’t going to spend that for this house.

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I didn’t buy from Lowes or Home Depot because I just didn’t like the selection; what I found at those stores looked small and cheap. I relied heavily on reviews because I bought online.

I couldn’t get to hear the fan or see it in person: the noise on low is definitely less than the old fan; when on high the noise is quite obvious but that is pretty true of any fan.

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I have to write that I’m overall very pleased. I like the substantial size of this hood – it makes the whole area appear bigger than what it really is (30″ wide). It has a modern sleek look that doesn’t look as cheap as others in its same price range. I also like that it has two lights and they are located at the front of the unit so they can be easily replaced.

Of course it will look more impressive once the backsplash is done and the rest of the kitchen appliances are in Stainless Steel but at this point it’s baby-steps.

Next up for appliance replacement is the dishwasher, then fridge, and lastly stove as the stove is a great appliance and is being replaced only for looks. But before all those expenses, back to the family room ceiling….

Adapting drawers for herb and spice jars

The three drawers in the island will eventually be replaced when we build a new island. For now though, I needed a way to keep my herb and spice jars easily sorted.

These French Quarter bottles (Target’s Archer Farms spices) were too big to fit into the drawer with the old organizer, so we came up with this easy and quick solution: a piece of scrap quarter round, trimmed to size, and glued into place. One drawer was warped so a few tacked in finishing nails kept it in place.

This works with any bottles that have a neck as it is the neck that rests on the wooden bar. It angles the jar so it is easier to grab and it keeps them from sliding around in the drawer.

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Kitchen breakfast bar converted to shelf unit

I’ve always hated the breakfast bar in our house. It was never used and always in the way. In the re-design this going to become a bookshelf and display unit. We played around with several ideas and some of the inspiration photos you can view in my Pinterest board for Kitchen (2013), specifically, this shelf design in the kitchen by Ross Chapin.

Supply list:

3: 1x12x12
3: 1x2x8
1: 1x4x8
1: 1x6x8
trim decorative molding
base molding for kitchen area
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First, the breakfast bar countertop is removed and one side trimmed down to the new countertop level. We marked out with green painters’ tape on the ceramic floor the footprint size of the shelf unit.
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Because it would have been impossible for us (with our skills) to redo the back to match the original (see end of breakfast bar) we covered it with beadboard. Eventually, the end of this cabinet unit (where the white outlet is on the right) will also be covered with beardboard and all painted the cream chalk paint color.
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The next step is to start building the frame of the actual shelf unit. These boards are Poplar, a nice compromise as oak would have been very expensive in the size of boards we were working with (and would have been painted in the long run) and pine would have been too soft. There are two upright boards, and three long horizontal boards (one not visible in the photo below) on the floor.
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The left end board has been nailed to the wall. To make these types of units go easily, I highly recommend buying or renting a nail gun. Using a nail and hammer just doesn’t make it go together easily and with less effort as a nail gun and compressor.
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Here you can see the inside placement of boards to allow for the bottom shelf to rest upon, and for the edge to be hidden by the front horizontal board.
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The bottom shelf rests on the boards and is nailed in place.
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On the inside of the uprights, a small piece of wood is placed for the next shelf to rest upon.
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At this point, you can only see it if you look under the shelf. A long, horizontal bracing piece was also placed against the back of the unit to support the shelf. A front piece of horizontal board allows for a smooth profile.
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None of this support is noticeable from above. Two vertical boards are nailed on the front to make a smoother profile:
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The vertical board are not the same height – their shorter size allows a horizontal facing board across the top of the unit.
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Another view of the end of the to show how the boards were fitted together
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The inside uprights, that divided the top shelf into three units is set behind the facing boards. It is nailed in at several points, including the front, the bottom and toenailed in at the back with hand hammering.
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The completed, unpainted unit:
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I’ll put some before and after pics once I get the unit painted. I also hope to get a better diagram of how the boards came together so that will posted at a latter date. I’m not sure when we can afford new countertops as they will be a major expense. My next big investment has to be a new downstairs AC unit not pretty granite countertops! 🙂

Cornices for the kitchen bay window breakfast nook

Originally, we had built cornice boards that had a shelf that ran connected over the top of all the windows in the breakfast nook area. I actually really liked these upholstered cornice boards however, at the time we were thinking of putting the house on the market and wanted this area simplified.

To make it match the rest of the kitchen, we went with a wood, on the wall, cornice of crown molding. I’ve already gone into quite a bit of detail of how to make one over on this blog post, so here I’ll just show some before and after photos.

Supply list:
Crown molding 24′ (2 pieces of 12)
Base edge trim 20′ (2 pieces of 10)
1×8 boards 16′

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We still need to put in some molding under the window sill, finish the base moulding and replace the chandelier but this is a big step forward! Yeah!