The Kitchen Island Saga

Round 2-brace yourself, it’s a long one.  You may remember when we redid our kitchen island earlier this year by adding an Ikea Numerar butcher block countertop, painting it white, and adding beadboard on all sides.  We were happy with the overall look, but the countertop has always been a smidge too small.  There was almost no overhang, which looks kind of weird, but we were too cheap to splurge for the big guy {for twice the price} so we stuck with the small one and lived with it.

Here’s the island when we first moved in:

And here it is after our first makeover:

Much improved, but still in need of some originality, and after painting the rest of our cabinets white, I really wanted the island to stand out.  When we went to Chicago over Labor Day, we ran over to Ikea for dining room curtains {which have moved to our bedroom} and wandered through the “As Is” section.  We were shocked to find a 4′ x 6′ butcher block countertop marked down to $10! This was our chance to upgrade the island top {and either sell or reuse the old butcher block} so we packed it into my mom’s mini van and hauled it home.

We really couldn’t find anything wrong with it so we’re still not sure why it was marked down so much.  It did have a weird plasticy-looking finished {even though it is solid wood} and a few small scratches on the back.  Nothing we couldn’t fix.

We started by taking some measurements-adding a couple inches to each end and the back side of the current “too-small” countertop-to cut down the new counter to get a size we thought would truly fit our island.

After it was cut to size, I started sanding.  The butcher block had some sort of lacquered finish on it and a few knicks and scrapes so we decided to sand it and refinish it with the same stain we used in our master bedroom and bathroom.  Floods of memories about how awful sanding is {from hours of sanding our concrete counters and kitchen cabinets} came back but I suffered through and sanded it down to the bare wood.  I slightly rounded the edges with my sander as well to give the sides a nice smooth finish.

Then I grabbed an old t-shirt and Mike set the counter on a couple old drawers for me to stain.

Once it dried, we brought it in and centered it on the island cabinet and secured it in place.  Now there are a few different things you can do here.  If this is a surface you are going to use for food preparation you’ll want to seal it to make it food safe with Waterlox.  We only use our island for serving food, like a buffet, so we simply sealed it with the oil we bought at Ikea for our first butcher block.

We were so proud of ourselves once we were done, but when we stepped back, we didn’t really like it.  Oops.  We remeasured and somehow the counter ended up being about 2 inches longer on each side than we had originally planned.  Either our math was wrong or we cut in the wrong spot, but in the end it was awkwardly large.  Here’s where Plan B comes in.

We talked about moving it to one side and putting a stool underneath but we didn’t think that would really get used.  We also talked about taking the whole thing off and cutting it down again, which would require resanding one end and staining again too, which didn’t sound like fun to me at alllllll.  Finally, we decided to buy some corbels and move the island to one end, with the corbels adding a decorative touch and giving our trash can a little nook.  Much more useful.  We bought two of these from Home Depot:

And I stained them to match the counter {side note-that tiny can of stain has covered our wood walls in master bedroom, our master bath mirror frame, master bath hanging shelf, and now our countertop and corbels and there is still some to spare.  Amazing how far you can stretch $4}:

Once the countertop was ready to go, I started to dream of some color to soften the island and draw attention to that gorgeous butcher block. So where else would I look, but Pinterest:

And plan Convince Mike to Let Me Paint the Island Again began.  I loved the contrasting cabinetry and thought it was just what the island needed to stand out.  We added this rustic, oversized countertop and the bright white just didn’t seem to suit it.  It took a little convincing for Mike to jump on board, but after a persuasive photo presentation, he agreed.  I grabbed some paint we had leftover from our master bathroom and dining room and started painting.

The slate gray color {which looks blue in some of these pictures but is gray in person} brings out the beauty in the antique-color stain and gives our kitchen a beatiful centerpiece:

Mike is working on a fun project to pretty up our trashcan {which just looks gross next to our stand-out new island} so for the sake of this little photo shoot, I threw in a stool to fill the empty island nook.

A couple little accents we also added were this bottle opener which we scored on Amazon awhile back for $8 {it will be directly above our trash can so the cap can fall right in!}

And some pot holder hooks on the back.  We bought some hooks at Home Depot and Mike screwed 4 of them into the bottom of the island.  The back overhang of the counter is now useful too-it hovers over our cookware.



And now I don’t have to bend down to get pots and pans out of the cabinet.  I love it!  Here are a few close-ups of our pretty butcher block.  It has lots of character-beautiful wood grains and gorgeous knots.


And just a few more views of the whole shebang for fun:



I love it so much, I feel like the pictures don’t even do it justice.  The island feels more like a rustic piece of furniture than a builder-grade island.  This version is here to stay:)





I’ll be linking up here:

DIY Showoff: DIY Project Parade

I Heart Naptime: Sundae Scoop

Skip to My Lou: Made By You Mondays

Today’s Creative Blog: Get Your Craft On

Tip Junkie: Tip Me Tuesday

Home Stories A to Z: Tutorials and Tips Tuesdays

Not Just a Housewife: Shoe Me What Ya Got

Blue Cricket Design: Show and Tell

Shabby Chic Cottage: Transformation Thursday

Miss Mustard Seed: Furniture Feature Friday

CSI Project: Challenge

Remodelaholic: Blog Link Up

Tatertots and Jello: Weekend Wrap-Up

Serenity Now



  1. How gorgeous…I love the transformation of your island. You did an amazing job!

  2. Its projects like this that make me love DIY blogland so much!!! Perfect example of creative problem-solving. Seriously, it looks awesome!

  3. This is quite the saga, but it looks great now! It’s worth all that effort.

  4. Great makeover! I love it

  5. Super cute! Love the colors.


  6. Wow! I am super impressed! What a transformation! $10????? NO WAY!!!!! I’m a new follower. Can’t wait to see what else you do!

  7. Very nice transformation! I love the blue, the corbels, the new top and the pan holders. Your floor is so pretty too. What a nicely done room!


  8. Love it! It’s beautiful love the wood stain and the color of the cabinets.

  9. Angela Jones says:

    Amazing how you come up with these impressive and affordable ideas! It looks just beautiful; completely different look and I love it! I can’t wait to see what mike is doing with your trash can?!!?

  10. Amazing transformation! I sent a link to my niece who is thinking of painting her oak cabinets. Painting the island took it from pretty to pretty amazing!

  11. Beautiful butcher block! I’m so happy that you were able to find something budget friendly!

  12. Love the island…. Isn’t it wonderful when something just drops in our laps like the island top?????

  13. You are so inspiring! I am absolutely in love with your island. I agree that the contrasting color definitely makes it pop, your kitchen looks so homey!

  14. Great job! Love it when you find a steal at just the right time! It’s one of those…’life is good’ days!

  15. I can’t believe you got that for $10! And it’s so pretty now! you really transformed it! I love the color now too.

    I’d love it if you linked it up to my new link party!

    So well done!

  16. Well, you did it! It looks great! What a great deal you got on the butcher block counter top. I love that color with the stain too! I am your newest follower. Hope you can visit me sometime:)

  17. fabulous!

    come visit anytime.


  18. Love the details and the color. Great way to add character! I really like this.

  19. This is why I want a house :) Looks great, love the color!

  20. Nice transformation.

  21. WOW!! LOVE your island! You make me want to redo ours now!! Really looks nice; you must be so proud!!!

  22. Beautiful makeover, I love everything you did to transform and repurpose it. Great find on the butcher block.

  23. It looks great. Gotta love Ikea.

  24. You did an amazing job. I really love the way it turned out in the end. I wish I had that type of creativity and talent.

  25. Great DIY! I love the way you attached the pots and pans to your island!

  26. This worked awesome! Many many thanks!

  27. Your cabinets looks fantastic!

  28. Can you tell me what color of stain you used on the island top….love the antique look.:)

  29. Gorgeous! I too am dreaming of a gray island. I love your butcher block!!

  30. Wow! I purchased a 90 year old home that I gutted and have slaved to get to the point of making it livable. I’m currently building the kitchen and what you did is exactly what I’m trying to accomplish. What did you use to seal the top?


  1. […] Day 7: Fruit.  I used the little apple display from our kitchen island photo shoot. […]

  2. […]  Well, hopefully you’ll hang with me to see a pretty transformation.  Once we made over our kitchen island, our ugly trash can suddenly became uglier.  Mike had a great idea to create a trash can cover […]

  3. […] updated again with our island makeover and trash can cover. […]

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