Last month, I was in major project mode and one of the results of this was a new kitchen island. A big frustration in that space had been the table and chairs. They were lower than the counter surrounding it, we never sat in them and I always ended up using it as a chopping station where I had to crouch over to work. We have a much bigger patio table a few steps away and when it’s just the two of us, we often use the coffee table to eat our dinner. So I looked into buying a kitchen island. Because I seek quality first and deals second, my first stop was Pottery Barn. Purchases like these are always a little scary when you’re a renter, because you have no idea what your future home will look like. It’s one thing to get a nice couch you think will fit anywhere, but something as stylized as an island is trickier. Most remodeled kitchens have them these days. The beauty you see above is $1,899, which hurt my heart as I could not justify the amount for something we may or may not need in the future. So, I announced to my husband I was going to make my own. I have never attempted a piece of furniture in my limited wood working history, but I believed this would be a
fun challenging adventure. Just the thing I needed to satisfy my boredom! I had no outline to follow, just the inspiration of the aforementioned piece and my own ideas of what would work for me. This will not be a “how to” post, as I still want to have friends when this is done.
I took a scouting trip to Home Depot where I picked out the types of wood I liked and totaled the costs. I chose a thicker piece for the top of the island, because I wanted to emulate a butcher block without it actually being one. I also played with the idea of covering the entire top in marble, but as the pleasant woman at Home Depot informed me, it is a minimum of $900 to order marble for a kitchen project. I spent about an hour there planning ahead so I knew exactly how much we were going to have to spend. Thankfully, wood for DIY projects at Home Depot is a little cheaper than $1,900, so I was in the safe zone. I almost exclusively use pine when I’m building something, so I worked no differently here. By the end of the project, including multiple return trips, I spent about $100 on wood and cutting. I had already owned the Golden Oak stain, wood glue, polyurethane and sandpaper.
I wish I could tell you the project was fun, easy, inspiring and that I’m a new woman as a result. But it was truly hell. My husband stepped in about halfway through the assembly process and took over everything that required a drill or screwdriver. In other words, he put it all together. I can’t tell you how many times we had to take apart and reassemble various pieces for lack of foresight on my part. When all the originally purchased wood was put together, we realized the island needed more reinforcement. I went to my local hardware store and bought two more pieces to make the cross-section you see in the back. That’s a tough measurement, because you have to buy the piece of wood, which is eight feet long, have it cut in half so that it is manageable, take it home, hold it up to the spot where it would lay and pencil in the exact angle the wood would need to be cut on either end. Then take it back, have them cut it and pray to God it was the right fit. After completing this process, the table was still unstable. I was advised to add even more reinforcement on the sides, which meant repeating the steps above. Aesthetically, I did not like that idea, but I agreed it had to be done. That final step worked and the table was ready for my attack. I took two days to stain (should have done that first!) and about three to cover the top in multiple coats of polyurethane. A lot of dry time.
Now for the best part… the part that made it all worth it! Accessorizing! I knew from the Pottery Barn inspiration that I wanted to affix some sort of hook system and that all the add-ons would be an antique black iron. I was working with a small space on the side panels, and I didn’t want them to scream “I’M RUSTIC!!!!”, even if that’s what I was going for…that meant no Anthropologie. I landed on two very simple small hooks that I found in a box at my local hardware store. They were $2 each.
Next, I thought it would be cool to have a paper towel holder on the other side, which would free up even more counter space since the previous one had been an upright design. I could only find one black iron model and it would take time to ship, plus it had bad reviews–which is weird for a paper towel holder, but moving on… I found one in nickel at the Container Store for $16.99 and bought some $7 black spray paint at Blue Rooster in Los Feliz. The two became one and I was starting to get really excited!
The last stop was Crate and Barrel, where I got my nifty marble slab. It was somewhat of a painful purchase at full price and particularly because I knew Sur La Table was having a sale at the time for one four inches shorter and $20 less. I liked the idea of the slab filling one entire half of the island, so I stuck with my vision and got the more expensive one. No regrets. After that, I simply took things from other parts of the kitchen and filled the island, freeing up a ton of cabinet and counter space. The day after I completed the project, I realized I could add our wall-mounted bottle opener to the front for that little extra touch. So I sprayed it black and slapped it on and there you have it! A completed kitchen island that didn’t cost anywhere near $1,899! Let’s tally the cost, shall we?
Wood and Cutting: $100
Screws and foam brushes: $10
Paper Towel Holder: $17
That’s a total of $131 for the island and its attached accessories. I sold the table that was previously in its spot for $40, so if you want to subtract that, you’re looking at $91 out-of-pocket to produce. I feel joy everyday while using this. I love the rustic touch it gives my Old Hollywood kitchen and the fact that if I had to give it up at some point, I know it was fairly inexpensive and could possibly even sell well for being handmade. There is so much room for affordable creativity when you’re willing to put in the work.