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DIY Kitchen Island


Today, I am going to show you how to turn this $100 Lowe’s base cabinet:


Into this gorgeous kitchen island:



Ok, I’ll begin by stating that this was the first project of this caliber that I’ve attempted. Sure, I’ve made shelves, painted cabinets/countertops, and various other projects – but this was by far the most detailed yet. With that said, it’s actually not nearly as difficult as I’m making it sound. I just really did not want to screw this up!

I’d been on the hunt for a kitchen island for months. I have a decently sized kitchen and lots of counter space. However, it seems like I’m always sprinting across the kitchen and doing cartwheels each time I’m cooking because the available counter and storage space is not centrally nor conveniently located.

The space available for my kitchen island wasn’t big enough to comfortably fit the kitchen islands I was finding for purchase (pre-built). Most were 36-52 inches wide. I decided 32″ wide was as much space as I wanted to give up in my kitchen.

Then I came across this blog and decided I’d make the one I wanted.
I went on the hunt for a cabinet base I liked – I found an unfinished 30″ wide cabinet at Lowe’s for just over $100.


The front is unfinished oak – and they aren’t joking when they say “unfinished”. It needed sanding before it was painted. The sides and back are particleboard so I had to decide what I wanted to do about that. I liked the beadboard and trim concept but I knew I wanted to do it slightly differently. I had recently updated all the hardware in my kitchen, so I knew I’d go with that. And I’d been dying to have a hardwood top in my kitchen- either butcherblock or plank- and since it didn’t seem practical to redo all of my countertops in hardwood this island would give me a taste of what I wanted. Specifics remained completely up in the air and I made up my mind as I went…..

This resulted in trim/beadboarding the particle board sides TWICE and taking 2 months to pick a countertop. But overall, I’m glad I took my time and I gladly share my lessons learned as I detail the steps below.

I apologize that this particular post isn’t photo heavy, I did this project prior to starting a blog and didn’t plan for detailing each step.

If you’d like to build a kitchen island like mine, here’s the list of supplies you’ll need:


-base cabinet (I chose an unfinished base cabinet from Lowe’s it measures 30″ W x 24″D)
-1 panel of beadboard (Lowe’s, 8’x4′ panel) -unless you decide to tear the whole thing apart and start over like I did – then you will need 2 ๐Ÿ™‚
– wood trim (I chose 1 3/8″ x1/8″x8′ and needed 2 (plus 2 extra for my second attempt….)
-finishing nails
-liquid nail
-paintable latex chaulk
-wood filler
-hand sander
-both high and low grit sandpaper for rough and very fine sanding
-primer (I use KILZ)
-paint (I use valspar ultra semi-gloss white)
-floetrol (optional)
-sealer (I use polycrylic semi-gloss clear)
-circular saw
-measuring tape
-paint supplies (tray, I chose to use foam roller and foam brushes)
-countertop (I chose a brazillian cherry 1.5″ thick plank top with small roman ogee edging from this site – highly recommend)
-wood conditioner, stain, and sealant (I used minwax- see below)


Buy Supplies ๐Ÿ™‚

Take a happy moment to adore the original cabinet, take many photos. Chances are, you are about to either destroy it or make it magnificent! I did both.


I started with beadboard and trim. This is where I made my first and biggest mistake. After much thought I decided to measure all edges and cut the trim to fit. I liquid nailed and put about 3 actual nails into each piece. I then used the circular saw to cut the beadboard to fit WITHIN the trim pieces.
My circular saw is NOT a table saw. My cuts were not precise. They were slightly uneven and each piece of beadboard fit poorly within the trim with odd and some large gaps at all the edges. Unfortunately, I didn’t take any photos of what this looked like because after sitting around moping about it for several days, I decided to tear it all off and start over.


This is a photo of the trim applied. Beadboard was cut to fit WITHIN the trim. It, however, did not fit so well.



After I tore all of the trim and beadboard off…. I used googone and a chaulk remover tool.

My next attempt was to head back to Lowe’s and buy more beadboard and trim :/

I then went about re-measuring, cutting and placing the beadboard. Trim was then cut to fit the edges ON TOP of the beadboard.

Both were nailed and liquid nailed to the particleboard.



Behold. The beauty of beadboard!
It really is beautiful. Like, really. Just stare at it for a moment.
Maybe I’m biased.

I caulked all of the seams and edges. Don’t use the fast drying caulk…. Yep, you guessed it… another lesson learned. I used the fast drying crap on the cabinet doors (there were big gaps in the seams. I wasn’t kidding, when they say unfinished, they mean it!) The fast drying heavy duty stuff is thick and very hard to smooth. It also sticks to everything and is sooooo hard to remove. Regular caulk will do and when used properly, dries with smooooooth paintable edges making your seams look flawless.

I used regular caulk on all of my beadboard/trim edges. I used white wood filler to fill any nail holes and big gaps between the beadboard and cabinet.


All gaps, seams, edges, and nail holes caulked, wood-filled, and sanded. Holes drilled in the cabinet drawers for the hardware.


And now! Time to prime. I used 2 coats of KILZ primer.



I used a foam roller for applying the primer and a small foam brush for the edges and seams to minimize brush strokes. I mixed Floetrol in with the paint – it essentially magically decreases brush marks (and I used SUPER THICK paint – Valspar Ultra White). I also applied 2 coats of this.

I used foam rollers and small foam brushes for the top protective coat (Polycrylic clear in semi-gloss). You guessed it, two coats ๐Ÿ™‚

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And then I sat around admiring my handiwork for several weeks while completely ignoring the fact that I hadn’t yet decided on a top for my island. Making this decision seemed unbearably overwhelming. So many things to think about. What if I chose the wrong wood? What thickness? Plank or butcherblock? Prefinished or shall I challenge myself with the task of finishing it myself? What is ogee edging and do I actually need it (Yes, yes you do need ogee edging. It’s just so pretty!)? And my friends, the list goes on.

After weeks and weeks of googling, blog searching, and pinteresting, I decided on a Brazilian Cherry plank countertop 1.5 inches thick with small roman ogee edging (because I’m fancy. That’s why. Just kidding, it wasn’t that much extra and I’m not lying, it really gives this island the perfect final touch).

I wanted something darker, resembling walnut but not at the price of walnut. Brazilian Cherry held the reddish darkness that I was looking for and I chose to order a piece that was unfinished so I could stain and seal it myself.

The day it was finally delivered to my doorstep, I hauled the 50lb slab inside myself, and tossed it onto the cabinet and admired:

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And I let it sit like this for another 2 weeks, too terrified to ruin it to actually attempt to stain and finish….

Eventually I developed the nerve to flip it over and test stain samples….. and, of course, they all looked the same.


I applied Minwax wood conditioner prior to staining, so I’d have a more even distribution and absorption. The top color is the wood with only conditioner and sealant.

The bottom 3 colors are all different stains. Except they each looked the same to me.

Because I am a middle child and have a complex, I chose the middle stain.


I used the pre-stain as directed. One coat of red oak stain:


Next I applied 3 coats of Helmsman spar urethane clear semi-gloss sealant. I LIGHTLY sanded with 320 grit sandpaper between coats of sealant to remove all dust particles and air bubbles. I used a wood staining and sealing brush so there would be as few air bubbles and brush strokes as possible.

And, my friends, this is the final result.

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What do you think? Questions? Suggestions?

– A