Kitchen Island Makeover Tutorial

Kitchen Island Makeover as seen in BHG from At The Picket Fence

Here is my completed kitchen remodeled as featured in Better Homes and Gardens! My island is still holding up great and I love it!

Heather of At The Picket Fence Better Homes and Gardens Feature

photo courtesy of BHG

As just a little recap. I am in the middle of a major DIY Kitchen Remodel.  It has been a multi-step process over several months and it is….almost….done…. The most recent project that I competed just this past weekend was the transformation of my kitchen island.  Here is a little before and after.

(mouse over for before and after)

Kitchen island before and after

Now if you are anything like me you’re thinking. “Yep. love it. Now the tutorial please.” See, I knew I wanted an island like this, but I couldn’t find an all encompassing tutorial anywhere.  So by combining various “how to posts” from some fabulous bloggers like Sarah from Thrifty Décor Chick, having my friend Kristin at My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia stand on her head (okay not really but almost to get the shots I needed) to photograph her beautiful island (which inspired mine) and a lot of trial and error. I successfully pulled off this island transformation and I am going to show you how you can makeover yours as well.


(Step 1)Painting cabinets, adding beadboard, trim and hardware.
(Step 2)Staining and adding butcher block top to island.
(Step 3) Adding furniture leg addition, and baseboards to island{Click on this link for printable list of supplies and tools needed}

Step One: Painting and Adding Beadboard

The first step in my island makeover was wrapping the island in beadboard and painting the island front and cabinet doors.

 Kitchen Remodel3

This was the easiest part of the makeover but definitely the most time consuming. Sarah at Thrifty Décor Chick gives a great tutorial on adding beadboard to an island.  She used the individual pieces of beadboard, we used the primed panels.  They are slightly more cost effective and since we were using the panels in other parts of the kitchen we wanted the beadboard to match.  Pros of panels: cheap, only need to make a few large cuts and install in one piece. Cons of panels: hard to transport home, unyielding (you will need someone to help you cut them), a pain to cut out outlet holes. So you decide what works best for your job.
1.  First I removed the corner trim piece on each outer corner of the island, using a crowbar.  Then, measured off the dimensions of the front and side of the island. Using a band saw we cut them to size.2.  We marked off the measurements for the outlet. Our jigsaw worked great for this.  Make sure to start your pilot hole for the jigsaw by first drilling a hole in one corner.

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3. Using Liquid Nails paneling glue, we attached the beadboard panels to the island.  To make sure the beadboard was extra secure we used paneling nails in each corner, making sure to recess them with a nail setter.

4. Once the panels were attached we noticed small gaps in the corners where the paneling meets up (or didn’t quite in our case). To fix this we glued small wooden  dowels in the outside corners.  When painted this mimics a “bead” in the beadboard.

5.  After your beadboard is attached to three sides, it’s time to prime and paint the exposed part of your island and the cabinet doors.  I chose to clean, sand, clean, prime, sand, prime and paint twice all of my cabinets.  It was a huge job but worth the effort for durability.  I used an oil based primer and paint. You will not need to prime your beadboard since it comes primed.  After your paint has completely cured you can add or change out your hardware if desired.  I also chose to run beadboard wallpaper on the “kick…” of my island and add my faux cabinet feet to the front (as you can see in the finished photograph). You could also just paint the kick …to match your cabinets.

Step Two: Staining and Adding a Butcher Block Island Top

Step two in this project was adding stained butcher block to the island.  One feature of my “old” island I hated was the wide counter top and how much space it took up.  Between the overhand and the bar-stools it left mere inches between someone sitting in the stool and my refrigerator.  This made food preparation difficult when people were over and wanted to sit and chat while I cooked.  My dream had always been to put them at the “end” of the island out of the kitchen work space.  We achieved this by narrowing and lengthening the counter.

1.  First we were extremely lucky to find a piece of butcher block at our Ikea and even more luck that it was a piece of Lagan which is the cheaper version.  I wasn’t sure if the thinner piece would look funny or vastly difference from the height of my other counters, but it doesn’t look any different and it saved quite a bit of money!
2.  Once we got our butcher block home, we removed the original counter.

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and placed the butcher block piece on the island to get a feel for the length we wanted.

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We even practiced sitting at it and walking around it to see how far out we were comfortable with it coming into the eating area.  When we had determined a length we liked we placed a chalk line to get a precise cut, and cut off the access wood using a circular saw with a new blade.  The blade was approximately $10 and worth the purchase to get a nice clean cut.

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The we placed the piece back on the island to make sure it was exactly the length we wanted.

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All of these steps are important to avoid mistakes and having to “redo” your work.

3.  After lightly sanding the cut edge and the tops and side to remove the light factory finish, I applied a wood conditioner to the top, sides and several inches underneath.  This is an important step before staining your wood, for a nice uniform finish.

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4.  Now it was time to stain the butcher block. Again I turned to the internet for help.   Erin from Stillwater Story has a fabulous tutorial on how she stained her Ikea counters and she got her information from Vanessa from This and That who also has a great tutorial.  I’ll be honest I don’t have much to add to their fabulous posts.  I decided on the Minwax Dark Walnut because I wanted a dark wood but not red undertones like you see with cherry finishes.  I applied two coats of stain to top, sides and about 6 inches in on the underside.  Here is the butcher block after one coat

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You can see how uneven the coloring is still with just one coat.  I wanted a darker finish and everything I had read stated that the Waterlox lightens the stain about a shade.  Waterlox is a permanent food grade varnish that you can apply to your counters.

It is a little time consuming and pricey but you will never have to prepare your butcher block again.  Sounds like my kind of product!  Because of the lightening effect of the Waterlox I applied a second coat of stain.

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After a light sanding between coats,  here is the final finish minus the Waterlox.

In the spirit of honesty I’ll admit I haven’t applied the Waterlox yet. I have had so many projects to finish that for now the butcher block is just sitting on the island and we are not using it for food preparation (unsealed stained surfaces are not food grade) but I will be applying it soon, and will share that step with you when I am finished.  The tutorials I have listed above include this important step so please refer to them if you are completing this project anytime in the near future.

I am seriously so in love with my butcher block, we’ve even wondered now if we should have installed it everywhere in the kitchen but I also like what we chose for the perimeter cabinets as well.  I’ll be sharing those with you soon!


Step Three: Adding furniture legs and baseboard trim to island

From the beginning inception of my kitchen remodel plans I knew I wanted legs for my island.  I was in love with the look and it fit with my idea of a sophisticated farmhouse look.

1. First goal, find legs for the island.  Warning you cannot find these in your big box stores and I my budget and time frame did not allow for me to special order them.  Time to get creative.  Enter…newel posts.  You know those poles that are at the end of your staircase.  Here are the ones I purchased from Lowe’s.

newel post<

There were $26 each and of course would need modified.  Using the electric miter saw I rented from Home Depot, I cut the round ball and decorative trim off of the top part of the post and then measured and cut off the excess from the bottom of the post.  These posts are 48” and I needed a 36” post.  Measure your posts according to the height of your island.  (Speaking of renting a miter saw, it was so fun to see the face of the tool rental guy when he learned the miter saw was for me and that I was remodeling my kitchen on my own.  Love dropping that on the sales people at Lowe’s and Home Depot, they are never sure quite what to say.) heh.

2.  For the apron of my leg addition to the island I purchased a simple square piece of 3” primed MDF.  Using the miter saw I cut to size one of the side pieces of the island.  Be sure to measure and measure again. I came back in the house often while cutting my pieces to dry fit them and make sure I had my measurements correct.  One I was satisfied with the first side piece I attached it to the leg using Heavy Duty Liquid Nails

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and then screwed in one of the triangle corner brackets.  I highly recommend starting a small pilot hole with an appropriate sized drill bit for each screw.  This will help you avoid splitting the wood.

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I clamped the apron piece in place so it would stay straight and flush with the front of the leg, while the glue dried.

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3.  After the glue has dried I attached the side piece of the apron to my island using an 3” L bracket.

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Here is what the corner bracket looks like, this will be screwed into the counter top once building the legs and apron are complete.

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And this is what you phone will look like after cutting all of this woods.  The perils of belonging to a DIY Blogger.

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4.  We repeated the same steps for the other side of the island.

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5. Once you’ve established the exact location of each leg and side piece of the apron and they are secure to the island, measure you center apron piece and cut to fit.

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Using a thin layer of glue and 2 additional 3 inch L brackets at the bottom of the center apron piece attach the center piece to the legs. Make sure that the apron front is level with the front of the legs. Here is what this section looks like when completed without the island top.

kitchen island collage

7. Once your glue is completely dry and your leg addition feels secure, you can caulk, prime and paint your legs and the apron. Island legs might need a light sanding before painting because they are unfinished wood. Remember, caulk is not sandable but wood filler or putty is.  If you have a fairly large gap you might want to fill it with wood putty or filler and then sand it smooth, otherwise paintable white caulk will work great!

(As a final step you can add a nice wide trim to your island.  I love how Kristin had the wide trim so that she could have her cabinet feet on the front, but it didn’t look funny with her furniture legs when you looked at the island from the side.)

8.  To achieve this look, choose a wide baseboard (I chose a 3” wide primed baseboard) make sure you measure you island well so that you purchase a long enough piece of baseboard.

9.  One one end you will cut a straight cut.  To do this place your miter saw at 0 degrees.

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10. For your outside corners cut your baseboard at a 45 degree angle. To know if it’s cut right you want to be cutting away the back of the baseboard (where the front or primed side is longer than the back side of the mitered edge (hope that made sense!) After cutting your pieces and dry fitting them to make sure your cuts fit together well, apply at least one coat of your paint. Remember if you end up with a slight gap between your mitered edges, it’s okay. That’s why they invented caulk.
11. Once you’ve cut your baseboard to size, attach with glue and a few paneling nails if necessary ( I did not end up needing them.) And you’re done!


Whew! So that’s about it.  I want to state for the record I am truly a DIYer.  I have learned a lot of this through trial and error.  I was able to achieve all of the remodeling of this island by myself except for Bama Boy cutting some of the paneling for me (I’m still a little scared of the circular I would not want a carpenter going over it with a magnifying glass, but I am pleased with how it turned out! I can’t guarantee you’ll get the exact same results that I did but I can tell you that if you decide you want to remodel your island following my instructions I think you’ll be pleased with the results. I know I am!

Kitchen island before and after
If you have any questions I didn’t answer please feel free to ask in the comments section.  I will try and answer them on here as well, so others can see the response.  Also, feel free to email me through our contact page.  And thank you again for all of your sweet comments on my island reveal. I can’t wait to share the whole kitchen with you, it truly is an amazing transformation!



  1. says

    Oh, honey! This is beautiful and you are absolutely the smartest and most creative one! I love it! Your wooden top on your island looks just wonderful! I love the contrast to your other countertops! Love the white and I’m not jealous at all! Well, maybe a whole lot! :)
    It truly looks awesome.
    be a sweetie,
    Shelia 😉

  2. says

    Heather, darlin’- You are just a girl after my own heart! You did SUCH a good job! I just love it..and you did a great tutorial here too- (I read every word);>) xo Diana

  3. Beth says

    Your island is gorgeous, and this is such a fabulous tutorial! I understood all of it! I too have a husband who hates DIY. It’s always me doing the projects around here! Love your blog!

  4. says

    Absolutely fabulous transformation!

    Thanks for the detailed tutorial. We are moving to a hundred-year-old farmhouse next month and I have plans to build an island for the kitchen using an old butcher block I’ve had forever. Will definitely follow your tutorial (and am pinning it so I don’t forget).

  5. Anonymous says

    My island is just like yours. A great example of how I’d like to extend mine. Now my husband can do his magic. Thanks.

  6. says

    I was impressed when you first showed the island…now that I know exactly what it took for you to achieve greatness I am even more impressed. Everything about it is perfect. So gorgeous.

  7. says

    You did an awesome job! Looks great! I wanted legs on my “bar” in our new kitchen and with the custom cabinets, it was going to cost $2500.00! So we left the legs off and my husband did it himself. Also added the beadboard. I haven’t done a post yet with it complete but it looks SO good and we spent around $100.00! Just glad my hubby is handy. I don’t think I’d have had the patience to figure out how to do it. :)

  8. says

    I have to say it again. GORGEOUS! It looks completely custom. The tutorial is SOOOO helpful, and who knew they had butcher block counters at IKEA? (I didn’t!). You deserve all the praise, and enjoy your new island!

  9. says

    Looks great! Way to make a builder grade island look totally custom and fantastic. I am going to pin this so if my future island needs updating I will know exactly what to do.

  10. says

    I loved this the first time I saw it, and I’m still loving it, Heather! You should be so proud of yourself for doing most of this yourself! Hats off to you, girlie!! :)

    xoxo laurie

  11. says

    I’m just getting started on my island. Put the first coat of sealer on my Ikea butcher top and was searching the internet on how to apply feet to the cupboard. And POW I ran into your site. Thanks so much for the tutorial. I too wanted feet and legs on the extension piece. The plan is also to do beadboard surround… all of these projects I’ve never attempted but I’m a DIYer at heart and a first time home buyer 😉
    My big question is regarding the size of my island. Not sure if it’s too big. I had it taped off and have plenty of space (40″+) between the island and the stove/ fridge. I have the large IKEA top and there is 12″ extending from one end and the side. The side overhang was planned for barstools but the 12″ over the end is questionable. I can add an attached shelf unit or cut the top. Any ideas or advice for this new homeowner?

  12. says

    HEATHER!!!! I finally did it!! I did my own island TOTALLY inspired by this post. I just posted about it and linked back to you {hope that’s okay}. I can’t thank you enough for your amazing tutorial. It gave us the courage to tackle this. I literally had your post up on my phone in Lowe’s showing the guy helping me the photos of all of your brackets. {BTW, Lowe’s doesn’t carry triangle brackets…how silly. We did find them at the Home Depot!}. Thank you sooooo much, girl!!

    Would love for you to stop by and see what you inspired:


  13. PAD says

    I saw the “I did it” in the BHG magazine and it was my kitchen island transformed. I have the island picture & your blog in my 2013 Kitchen update to do notebook.
    Got to say I showed my Hubby, and he said “hire someone”. UGH! If you can do it, I can do it. Thank you for my island dream being a reality. I’m inspired. Lady Power!!!
    >> PAD

  14. Krista says

    I love love love ur island!!! I have a quick question I want to make this but I don’t have an existing island in place what kind of cabinet do I need to buy to make this and how long is ur island??? Appreciate the help!!!

  15. Beth says

    Thank you so much for this tutorial! I have been envisioning this for my kitchen island except I am extending my countertop off the back of the island to have room for 4 stools. Luckily, ikea also makes a perfectly sized 39 x 73 butcher block! I knew it could look great but I knew the “devil was in the details” so to speak and I have never used anything more powerful than an electric drill or a jigsaw. I decided to go the “plank” route on the beadboard and I almost have that finished, just need more wood! Thank you for rounding out the idea I had in my head and I will have to email you some pics when I finish. I hope mine turns out as wonderful as yours!

  16. Michelle says

    Heather, fabuolous tutorial. We are beginning our kitchen transformation and i have a quick question. Any thoughts on how to attach the legs to a granite countertop?

  17. says

    Hi, Your project turned out so pretty! Did you do your entire kitchen in butcher block or just the island? This is exactly the tutorial I was looking for- I’m planning on doing something similar and hadn’t come across anyone staining their butcher block. Beautiful, nice work and thanks for sharing!

  18. Stephanie says

    Hi! What a fabulous tutorial!! I love how your island turned out!! Great job!! I wanted to ask, what color of white did you use? It’s so creamy. I love it!



  1. […] Kitchen Island Makeover from At The Picket Fence. I have just three words to say about this awesome transformation:  Better Homes and Gardens. Ok, that was four words.  And impressive as heck Great job on this one, Heather!  One of my favorite projects of all time! […]

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