No Man is an Island… but a crafty woman can build one!

Our kitchen island was a hunk of junk. Honestly – it has a been a serious source of rage. I bought it second hand for about $50, I can’t remember exactly how much. It was an online ad, and I drove like 40 minutes to pick it up… so when I arrived and saw how crappy it actually WAS, I was in a pickle. I decided to go ahead and get it, and hope for the best.

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It likely doesn’t look too bad to you here. It had storage, which was nice. I used the basket for dish towels and the drawer held measuring cups and spatulas, etc. But the drawer was ridiculously hard to open and close, and the hardware was all falling off and unable to be tightened. Plus, over time, you can see that our dog made a chew toy out of the left side of the lower shelf. I added the green and white contact paper to pretty it up a bit, but it’s functionality was really lacking and it just got worse as the months wore on.

This past week, the hubby was away on business and the island and I got into a little scrap…

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I had fought one too many times to get the damn drawer closed, and this time when I put some muscle into it, well… the whole thing came down like a deck of cards. Is it weird that I was SUPER EXCITED?! Hahaha.

I started looking at the Ikea website, all excited for a new island! But yah… they’re like $300!! I was kind of freaking out at this point. Our kitchen didn’t have an island when we moved in, it’s not like we couldn’t live without one, but we were just so used to having it and the kitchen felt empty without it.

So, I poured a cup of coffee and sat down to think this one out. I wish I could actually show you what happened next.. it was funny. I looked into the front hall and saw the desk that I’d recently taken from someone’s trash at the end of their driveway…

I quite literally plucked this out of someone’s trash a few weeks back, and it had been sitting in my front hall ever since. I was just planning to strip and repaint it, then sell it. Not a big job, but I have been working on a custom desk for my 11 year old daughter so I hadn’t started this one yet.

So I’m sitting here starting it, and suddenly it hit me. I knew that if I could give it some height it would be perfect, so I sketched out a few different ideas.

Caster wheels?
Wooden legs?
Adding a base?

I wasn’t sure what the best solution was. I figured that adding a base with some feet was the smartest choice, but that would mean the bottom would no longer be open, so I couldn’t add a bar stool. I really loved the idea of adding a chair or stool for the kids! But in the end, I figured it wouldn’t be used that often anyway, and since I have three kids it would just lead to more fighting. lol.

I started by hauling the desk outside and sanding it down. I didn’t worry about getting all the paint off, just smoothed it all out.

Then I took some measurements and headed off to Lowes. I had them cut a piece of plywood that would be my “bottom”, and I found some wood feet to give the whole piece some height and character. I was also smart enough to not damage the top of the original island when I demo’d it, so I used the butcher block top on the new one. I also added a small support piece under the bottom shelf on the right. You can see it below… that shelf was sagging slightly so this just props it up.

So below you can see that I screwed the new plywood into the bottom of the desk, and then attached the legs to the plywood with metal braces. I added some trim around the plywood for a finished look, and used a ton of gorilla glue to attach the butcher block to the top of the desk:

Desk to kitchen island DIY - hystericallyeverafter.comThings were looking a little rough at this point, and I was kind of scared. I just kept hoping that paint would unify it all, and boy was I right! The colour is “Patina” and it’s by Van Gogh Chalk Paint. It’s a really pretty blue/green. Here she is with almost one full coat:

desk to kitchen island DIY - www.hystericallyeverafter.comI couldn’t believe how well the paint tied everything together! I started getting really excited at this point. I decided to strip the top piece of butcher block down and stain it a darker colour as well, and when I was done, here’s how it looked:

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Not a huge difference, but it’s darker and matches the rest of the room really nicely. There is enough room to store my mixer…

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And I will likely add a shelf in there when I have time. It’s nice to have so much vertical space, but a shelf up there would great for storing my cutting boards. The shelves along the right side are super cute, and perfect for storing smaller items like our bread, dish towels and my cookbooks!

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It all turned out quite well I think! I don’t even see a desk when I look at it now… it has completely transformed.

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I think the feet are my very favourite part!! They just add a little bit of polish.

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It’s been about five days since I finished it, and I LOVE IT. I much prefer the feet to the caster wheels that the old island had. It was always sliding around – even with the brakes on – and it drove me nuts. This one feels much more like a piece of furniture and it’s awesome. It’s also a few inches taller than the previous one which is great. I love using it, and while I initially figured I’d just sell this island with the house when we move, I have definitely changed my mind!

This one is totally coming with me.

Check out this before and after… love love love it!

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Hope you like this one… it’s my most ambitious project to date, and I’m really proud of it. Do you have a favourite part? Let me know!!

xo Mary Beth



      • Melody Shaw says

        What did you use as a topcoat (sealant) on the island? I redid my island and I used DEFT Clear wood Finish (gloss brushing lacquer) and it is horrible about leaving marks when things sit on it.

    • Mary Beth says

      Thanks Christina! I’m loving this one. It’s not the fanciest thing in the world but it turned out exactly as I hoped!

  1. Claude says

    Hey Mary Beth! I have been following your blog since the beginning! Im not even sure how I stumbled across it?? Anyways I really like it and I live in Halifax, there was a lady named Erin Trafford who I enjoyed as a news anchor and she quit that and started a DIY blog a lot like yours. When i read ur blog and hers I feel like u guys are best friends even tho I know you probably don’t know each other. Her blog is just thought i would connect you and maybe you will enjoy her blog. I also sent her your blog :) have a great day

    • Mary Beth says

      Thanks so much, Claude!
      I love having new blogs to read.. I can’t wait to check it out.
      Have an awesome May 2/4! Lol

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