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Kitchen Island Makeover
Our kitchen island makeover took me a few hours to complete and I love it!! You could easily do your kitchen island makeover in a weekend and it’ll transform your entire kitchen. It’s a great beginner project and it’s budget friendly, so let’s get started!
Step 1: Sand and Prep
Before you dive into your kitchen island makeover, you’ll need to do some prep work. It’ll be easier if you sand your island BEFORE you start adding all of the trim. So start by sanding your island with 200 grit, just enough to get the “shine” off.
If the back of your island is drywall OR has any major issues in the wood, then I recommend covering it with eucaboard. The back of our island had this huge 3 foot slice down the center of it; I have no idea why it was built like that. So we covered the entire back with eucaboard, which gave us a nice fresh start for our project.
Step 2: Design
The hardest part of this whole project was designing the new island. Here are some things you’ll need to consider when designing your island:
- Do you have an outlet that you’ll need to work around? Do you want to move the outlet instead?
- Does your island have a toe kick? How will the bottom of your trim match up with your toe kick?
- How far does your countertop hang over the island? This will effect how thick of wood you can work with.
- How thick do you want your new trim pieces? I personally preferred 1/4 thick poplar board. Anything thicker than that seemed like too much and it just looked odd (in my opinion but you do you). Also remember the thicker the trim, the more cleaning you’ll have to do.
- How wide do you want your new trim pieces? The width will probably depend on your island size. I felt like 3.5 inch worked best for our island.
- How far apart do you want your vertical trim pieces to be spaced? Again, this will depend on your island size and how many vertical trim pieces you’re wanting.
Step 3: Build
You’ll want to start with your horizontal trim pieces first. It’s really hard to explain why you start with horizontal pieces first, so you’ll just have to trust me. Measure your horizontal trim pieces and cut. Once you have the pieces cut, add wood glue and clamp the poplar board into place. Every so often check your work with a level to ensure you’re staying on track. Once you have the piece in place, attach the poplar board to the island using your nail gun. I added staples to my nail gun and just stapled my little heart out! I don’t want these things falling off in a year or two, so I made sure it was secure.
Once the horizontal pieces are attached, then you’ll measure and cut your vertical trim pieces. I recommend you measure each and every piece of vertical trim. Don’t assume that your island is perfectly flat and symmetrical. Then you’ll follow the same process as before: measure, cut, glue, clamp, level, and staple.
Our kitchen island required one additional step in the build process. We wanted our new trim to match up with our toe kick but still be aesthetically pleasing. So we added an additional row of poplar board to the base and then added a new “base/trim” directly on top of the poplar board.
Step 4: Bondo
Once all of the trim is attached to your new island, it’s time to cover all of those holes and imperfections. I used Bondo wood filler, which worked like a champ!! If you’ve never used Bondo before, don’t worry it’s actually really easy. Basically you’ll pour a small piece of Bondo into some old tupperware, squeeze a strip of hardening cream in the center, and mix with a plastic putty knife. The tricky part is once it’s mixed you only have about 3 minutes until it dries up. So you need to work fast!!! I used a pen to pre-mark all of the holes I wanted to fill so that I didn’t spend time looking for the holes while the Bondo was active. Then I mixed the Bondo, looked for my marks, and went to work. I put a small dab over the hole I wanted to fill, waited 20 minutes, and then sanded using 120 grit paper.
We also used Bondo to fill in the gap between the poplar boards and the “curved” edge of our island. I wanted 90 degree edges with the new border so I filled in the tiny curved gap. At first I was nervous it wouldn’t work but we haven’t had any problems!!
Step 5: Caulk
I read that you should caulk between your newly added trim and your island cabinet but I felt like it was a waste of time. So I skipped this step and went straight to step 6 (painting). However, after a few minutes of painting I realized you really can’t skip this step. Caulking between your newly added trim and island cabinet really gives it that flawless look. It also covers any cracks where dust and dirt might collect. I hate caulking, but I will say our electric caulk gun makes the job a lot easier. Yes you can use an old school caulk gun but we decided to splurge since we have so many house projects.
Step 6: Paint
I recommend wiping everything down with a tack cloth and a microfiber towel before you start painting. You could paint your kitchen island with a paint roller or you could use a paint sprayer. I prefer using a paint sprayer because I don’t like the way my interior corners look when I roll them. They just look messy, whereas the paint sprayer looks flawlessly smooth.
Whenever I’m painting cabinets, I do 2 coats of Kilz primer and 2 coats of Behr Alkyd (satin). I painted our island at the same time as the rest of our kitchen. Read all about our process for updating kitchen cabinets here.
I hope your island looks amazing after this transformation. Be sure to check out all of our DIY Kitchen projects for more inspiration.