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Adventure Island

October 24, 2011
by thenestinggame

I’ve raved about having an open kitchen before. But I have not mentioned the Bermuda Triangle of  dead space between where our small kitchen island ends and our family room begins.

In reality, it’s all of 5-6 feet, not the hugest problem in the world. There are starving kids in, well, everywhere. But still…it bugged us. And when we entertain, people awkwardly hover in the dead zone.  (Though, to the dead zone’s credit, it has come in handy as a dance floor a time or two.)

So after a party at our friend Lucy’s killer house—one that ended—as all parties do–with all of us sitting around her gigantic stainless steel table/island in her kitchen drinking wine—Taylor and I realized that a bigger island would solve the dead zone issue nicely. It would give hovering guests a place to sit and it would link the kitchen and family room even more closely.

We explored some stainless steel table options, but I wasn’t willing to give up the storage space that the existing island gave us. So, plan B was to find a table top that could replace the top on the island and extend out. I thought we could reinforce it with corbels or legs, depending on how far it went.

I found a few inspiration pictures that sealed the deal. They go from baby bear to daddy bear.

{it’s great to be home}

{beach brights}

{via House of Turquoise}

You get the idea, right? So now. How to build this thing.

First, we figured out what size we needed, and settled on an ideal of 42″x48″. The island itself was 40″, so we figured an inch overhang on each side, and 4 feet in total length. That way, we could fit 4 stools beneath it. (We already had 2 stools–these from Overstock.)

I scoured Craigslist for a few weeks, hoping the perfect tabletop would pop up but no dice. So we ended up purchasing a piece of butcher block from this company in just the right size.

The plans for building this thing changed after 2 trips to Home Depot, some internet research, and some along-the-way discoveries so I’ll just share where we ended up. Plan J.

Plans A, B, C, D, E, F, G, H and I involved removing the existing island top, building a new base for the entire top and going from there. But after realizing that the existing top was glued to the cabinet and NOT coming off without potentially destroying the entire thing, Taylor just knocked the trim off. Oh, and we removed the casters.

Then he built a frame that would attach to the back edge of the existing island top.

He used the Jig tool that I learned about on Young House Love. Totally cool little invention that drills holes at an angle to let you attach boards together sideways. (I’m sure the back of the box reads WAY differently.)

This frame eventually attached to the island top (in the final step of this whole endeavor)  like so…

And the butcher block sits on top of it.

In doing some butcher block research, Taylor learned that it can warp if not secured well. So, he drilled these scary monster holes in both the frame and the existing island top. AKA, no turning back.

And then used these Jaws-enabled woodworking screws and washers to secure the frame to the butcher block. First, he attached the frame to the block.

Then attached the legs to the frame. Now for legs, I caught a tip on Sarah 101, where she used newell posts to prop up a built-in kitchen desk. We bought two at Home Depot and had them cut to the proper height.

I kept the tops for a future project. Bookends, anyone?

I painted them in the color we picked to best match the existing island color. We held up paint chips until we landed on the best match—Behr’s Camembert, which I took as a good omen since the island will be used frequently for entertaining, and entertaining = cheese. Taylor used double-ended screws (again, probably not a technical term) to attach them to the frame+butcher block. First, into the post, then the post onto the frame.

And then! The moment of truth. We flipped the butcher block+frame+legs over and slid them into place.

Holy Moly, this may just work.

Taylor used the pre-drilled jig holes to secure the frame to the island top, locking it in place 4-EVA.

I used Wipe-On Poly to finish the walnut butcher block. I also worked with tack cloth for the first time—not sure why I was scared of sanding between coats and using tack cloth—but it is kind of fun in a sick DIY-addict sort of way. The left is with 1 coat, the right is how the unfinished butcher block looked.

I put on 3 coats, and after living with it for a couple weeks, I think it needs a couple more.

But, in the time since it’s been finished, we absolutely love it.

It is the perfect perch for coffee and blog reading. Working from home. Taylor and I eat dinner there on occasion. The kids sit up there and eat breakfast when they’re here. My book club gals all gathered ’round and wined and cheesed. It’s instantly become the hub of the whole house.

We didn’t lose any of our storage—yay! Above it we hung a rustic pendant from CB2 with a low wattage bulb (25) that doesn’t make you feel like you’re before the Spanish Inquisition.

Quite a change from where we started! It truly looks built in.

Many thanks to Taylor, who designed and built this whole thing. It went from a series of “hey check this island out” IMs to one of my favorite things in the whole house. Taylor, if I did not describe the process well (likely), please chime in in the comments.

Do you have a kitchen island in your house? Do you and your guests hang out at it non-stop? I’m an island newbie, so all tips are welcome.

UPDATE: I took some new photos—now that I’m better with my new camera—and wanted to share those with you.

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33 Comments leave one →
  1. Taylor permalink
    October 24, 2011 9:11 am

    One minor detail. Apparently, butcher block expands and contracts a lot. So, you have to drill a pilot hole in the cabinet top or frame that is larger that the screw to secure it. And a washer of course. This allows it to shift slightly with changes in humidity. The second diagram here shows what I’m talking about:
    http://www.mapleblock.com/detail/installing-butcher-block-67/

    And the jig tool is awesome!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 12:09 pm

      Thanks for the added insight!

  2. whislerpotpie permalink
    October 24, 2011 9:29 am

    This is smart and beautiful! I love it!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 12:09 pm

      Thanks! We do too!

  3. SarahNadine permalink
    October 24, 2011 9:39 am

    Beautiful. I love how it turned out

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 12:09 pm

      Thank you!

  4. Kim permalink
    October 24, 2011 10:57 am

    great job! i love it. and going to steal your fruit “basket” idea for my kitchen.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 12:10 pm

      Thanks, Kim! The fruit stand was a wedding gift from Crate & Barrel. It was laughably large on the old island, but seems to be a much better fit on the bigger one.

  5. CherylM. permalink
    October 24, 2011 11:02 am

    This is absolutely beautiful and well executed. LOL Taylor … love the sandals…. be careful though I’m sporting a huge blood blister under my big toenail for not wearing “proper” shoes to DIY in!!

  6. Elaine Smart permalink
    October 24, 2011 11:18 am

    Great addition! Love the wine “rack.”

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 12:10 pm

      Classy, right?

  7. October 24, 2011 1:37 pm

    This looks gorgeous! What a clever update!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 11:47 pm

      Thank you, Steph!

  8. October 24, 2011 11:43 pm

    I like yours way better than the inspiration shots!

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      October 24, 2011 11:48 pm

      Isn’t that nice of you to say! Thought I’d probably trade mine for that giant turquoise kitchen…

  9. October 25, 2011 4:08 pm

    I love the update! I’m sure the addition of tons of extra prep space is welcomed! We have hardly any where I live now and it is the bane of my existence (okay, maybe i’m being a little dramatic). Also, I love the cb2 lighting fixture! Great choice!

  10. February 28, 2012 4:49 pm

    What a great idea and beautiful execution!

  11. March 16, 2012 8:17 am

    Love the island. We have one where we hang out every evening. It’s a great place to spread out the party food,too. Your tip for using knewl posts for legs is fantastic.

  12. March 29, 2012 3:58 am

    I just moved to a smaller apartment and this is exactly the inspiration i was looking for for my kitchen, thanks for sharing :-)

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      March 29, 2012 11:41 am

      Glad I could help!

  13. April 26, 2012 11:26 pm

    It looks wonderful. I love your stools and wall color, too!

    : )

    Julie M.

    ps I stopped by via Miss Mustard Seed’s Party

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      April 26, 2012 11:37 pm

      Thanks, Julie! I love Miss Mustard Seed’s link party—so much fun stuff to check out!

  14. April 27, 2012 9:06 am

    That looks incredible! Way to go for taking the plunge to make your space better.

  15. April 27, 2012 1:30 pm

    I LOVE this! What an incredible transformation, thanks for sharing!

  16. Lisa permalink
    April 27, 2012 5:07 pm

    Love the way that turned out! Looks great with the walls – btw, what color are the walls? Looks great.

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      April 27, 2012 5:10 pm

      Thanks, Lisa! They’re Valspar Woodlawn Sterling Blue.

  17. September 6, 2012 9:41 am

    Nice job with your island, it looks great (love the stools too!). I have this linked to my kitchen islands post as well today, for inspiration!

  18. Audrey permalink
    September 12, 2012 8:02 pm

    Very pretty! We are talking about remodeling the island in our kitchen & I am very inspired by your post. Thank you.

  19. denise permalink
    October 3, 2012 9:39 am

    Thank You! I have been searching for the right inspiration for months.
    Needing counter space but so in lve with my black oval pedastal table. It dominates our eat in kitchen.
    Your idea may be just the perfect way to repurpose and meet both needs!

  20. Kathy permalink
    January 21, 2013 4:16 pm

    Nice transformation! Where did you get the original island from?

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 22, 2013 3:35 pm

      Thanks, Kathy! The original island was in the house when we bought it so unfortunately I don’t know the source!

  21. Nicole permalink
    January 8, 2014 9:46 pm

    Lovely!! What type of wood did you order for the butcher block?

    • thenestinggame permalink*
      January 21, 2014 10:38 am

      Thanks! It’s walnut.

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