Monday, 18 August 2014

Our Kitchen Island DIY

Since the day Chris and I moved into this apartment, we have needed, and wanted, an island for the kitchen. After researching our options (okay, our only options were Ikea products), we realized we couldn't really get what we wanted without compromising A LOT. We wanted a fairly large island with a butcher block top and all the ikea options came in a bit too small.

We eventually decided that Chris would build a frame for the base of the island and we would buy a piece of butcher block from Ikea to use as the top. With the Ikea butcher block top measurements in mind, Chris got to work building a large wooden frame for the base.

It was a big project, but after lots of learning (and some frustrating lessons, all on Chris' part, I can't take any credit!) the island base turned out so well! At that point we began to look at purchasing the butcher block from Ikea. But there were some problems.

The butcher block was no longer in stock at our store, and that meant that we had to order it in special. And on top of the high price and the high tax, the delivery fee made the butcher block, not out of our budget, necessarily, but a large purchase that we suddenly weren't so sure about.

So here's a big surprise, we decided there had to be a cheaper way to do it ourselves. And there was. Chris began researching countertops made from hardwood flooring and found that it was a good option: durable, inexpensive and beautiful. We purchased one package of unfinished red oak floor boards ($80) and two pieces of 3/4" plywood, cut to our desired size, ($40) from our local Home Hardware Lumber Yard, and Chris began work on the counter top (just when he thought the project was supposed to be done!).

Here are some photos of the process:

This was the first picture that I took of the 'construction process'. 
At the end of May, Chris had most of the wood cut to length and he was beginning to construct the base. Here you can see one end held in place with pipe clamps. 

The finished base, assembled in the kitchen and ready for a coat of paint.

The base took one coat of primer (to coat the knots in the wood),
followed by two coats of white latex paint.

The plywood (cut to size) and the unfinished hardwood flooring boards.

Chris attached the boards just as though he was laying a floor.

Getting there...

Almost done! 
Chris trimmed off the overhang and then finished the sides using additional floor boards.

The entire area was covered with wood filler in order to achieve a smooth, flat work surface.

Next, Chris sanded the surface very well. This wood filler step was a huge job, but it was well worth it in the end! The counter top came out smooth and free of ridges that would make it a poor work surface for cooking, drawing, etc. 

The final step! Chris joins the two pieces together.
(The base and top were attached using ten little metal brackets).

Here is what the island looks like in our kitchen:

It's such a large work surface and we absolutely love it! We have found that we can both be working on different cooking projects at the same time and we have lots of room. Last weekend, Chris was preparing the lemon tart on one side, and I was canning blueberry syrup on the other. Success! 

Now I just need to do something about the terrible floors in our kitchen! I honestly don't know if that's dark grey grout or just really really dirty white grout, but I am leaning towards the latter. It's a bit late to paint the floor (too much furniture to move) but I am hoping to buy a large natural fiber rug (jute or straw) to cover the better part of the hideously ugly tile. 

Using our induction burner on the island, we can prep and cook together and no one has to turn around and face the wall! 

We could've barely afforded to purchase a small, poorly made Ikea kitchen island, let alone a HUGE custom island like this, but doing it ourselves (okay, it was mostly Chris!) meant our cost was way way low! In the end, the pine 2x4 boards for the base, the plywood, red oak flooring, primer, paint and other supplies (wood filler, dowels, wood glue, brackets, etc) came to a total of approximately $215. Amazing! A large custom made island would normally cost upwards of $2000, this was a mere 10% of that cost! 

Thanks for reading!


  1. It's beautiful, a work of art in itself. I was just admiring it the other day in one of your recent YouTube videos and paused it to show my partner how lovely it was. Well done you guys..

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