Fancier Simple Kitchen Island

Yesterday I mentioned having a little trouble with commissions, and this kitchen island was a bit of trouble as well. A friend of mine showed her coworker the Simple Kitchen Island I built when we lived at G-Ma’s house (plans here). He decided it would be perfect for his kitchen, with a few tweaks. We spoke on the phone, and that’s where things got a little fuzzy. He wanted the shorter ends to have an “overhang” for stools, which I took to mean having less slats so there’s leg room. In his mind, he wanted the aprons, legs, and slats to be shorter as well, all being the same width as those slats below. I should have explained it better, because if I built it how he saw it in his head, it would have been very “tippy” and easily knocked over. Not good for a kitchen island. It also started out a little short. He mentioned wanting it counter height, but I guess G-Ma’s 60 year old counters were a bit shorter (she was only about 5 feet tall herself). And though he said he wanted the same finish I used on mine in the photo, it was a bit too bright for his taste. Here was the first image I sent over, with a coke can for color comparison.

This is where the height questions cropped up, and I offered to do a brown glaze to tone it down as I knew the color was very strong. This version (the original) measures 33″ high. He decided he wanted 36″, and asked if it would be too much trouble to remove the legs and add new ones. Um, yes. This is why I asked for a measurement in the first place! So I scrambled to find a solution. Which was to use a couple of stair spindles to create three inch tall feet. I think it takes the whole island up a notch.

I painted and glazed them to match and then attached them with glue and nails. So easy! I’m actually glad we had this little snafu, because the island looks so much more polished with these adorable feet.

The top turned out quite nicely. I used a layered paint finish, and the grain still pulls through which I think is a nice touch. This is a solid wood piece, and I like that it shows, even if it is painted. I do wish, however, that I had filled in the sides of the plywood with DAP. I hate seeing those cracks. I thought I sanded it down smoothly enough, but plywood edges are a nightmare to work with. Next time I’ll be sure to remember that.

Here’s that coke can again, for color reference. I took photos of the process so I could post a new finishing tutorial, but the photos got lost somewhere in iPhoto and I can’t find them. But I started by dry brushing on a plum color (that’s the dark streaking you see) then a coat of Colonial red, followed by a glaze of brown stain mixed with glazing medium. I then topped it off with three coats of polycrylic, since it’s going to need a lot of cleaning as an island. Final measurements are 24″ wide

4 thoughts on “Fancier Simple Kitchen Island

    1. He was. Once I explained why I kept the aprons and legs in place (for stability and so the top doesn’t bend or warp) he was happier than with his original idea. And he really liked the feet, he even offered to pay extra since he waved away taking a measurement when I asked. I declined though, and stuck with the original price. He was very understanding, I hope I didn’t make him sound rude or demanding. It was just a case of two minds trying to explain over the phone what they see in their heads, and not getting there. In the end it worked out, but I learned a lot on the process. Provide sketches and dimensions BEFORE building!

  1. I have a request to build a friend a kitchen island, in fact, yours that appears on Ana White’s site. How would you add a drawer to one of the long sides? In addition is there room (in your opinion) as part of the top to make part of it a sunken area for a drop in chopping block or a tray for tools for eating? I built a potting bench (from Ana again) but cut the top into three pieces with two areas sunken below the top. You can see it on my page on Ana’s place. It seems to work fine.

    1. This is a tough one, I’m not a vastly experienced builder yet, so take what I’m about to say with a grain of salt. I think it would work to cut out sections of the top to create sunken areas with a router or jigsaw. Or you could use a hole saw (or jigsaw) to create holes to drop small bowls or condiment ramekins into for chopped items. You could even use a slab of butcher block for the top, the 2’x4′ piece I saw at Lowe’s was $30. On my first island, I hung knobs from one side to stash some tools like spatulas and mixing spoons. You could even use a slim towel rack or hooks. As far as a drawer, that should be possible. It wouldn’t be very deep with a 1×4 apron, though. I would think you could cut the apron short at both ends of the long side, say about 1 foot in. Then run a 1×4 perpendicular to where it ends to give a board to attach drawer slides. Then just build a drawer with facing and slides and you’re good to go. I think they even make top slides, too. Good luck!

Comments are closed.