The ultimate kitchen upgrade – A d. i. y. kitchen island – Part 1

Our kitchen after the upgrade

A story behind my kitchen island

My love for baking started six years ago when I decided to bake a birthday cake for my husband instead of buying one from a local grocery store. Although I used a box cake mix, it was still special knowing that I made it myself and also enjoyed doing it. Then came my another family member’s birthday, holidays, and other celebrations. I started learning baking cakes from scratch and learning how to decorate it. I watch online tutorials, bought baking cook books, and different sizes of cake pans. I enjoyed baking so much that I started making custom cakes for any occasion.

Fast forward to today, not only that my love for baking continues, but also became passionate in creating scrumptious meals for my family and loved ones. We love to entertain especially during the holidays and we tend to make it special whether it’s a dinner for two or a party for fifty. That being said, because I spent a lot of time in the kitchen baking and preparing meals (when I’m not at work), I started to think more of our kitchen space and functionality. We all know that the kitchen is the most used space in our home. Or at least in our case it is. So it just makes sense to make it beautiful, organize and functional at the same time.

Although I love our kitchen, and it’s a great space for a family of four, however, it’s just not functioning as it should be to meet our needs (or at least mine, ha ha). Then pandemic hits. The kids are home and in virtual classes. Because they can’t be outside as much as they went to, they started to learn how to cook and bake. So now the kitchen/breakfast area has to function not just for cooking, prepping and dining, but also a space to study, zoom meeting, and other virtual activities.

So I thought, hmmm, now I have a valid excuse to upgrade our kitchen (insert a thinking and smiling emoji). So I planned, did a lot of research, did the math and presented it to my husband, and yes! He approved. Budget was a big factor for our kitchen upgrade project. So we decided to do all the work ourselves. I’ll say I spent more time planning and deciding how we can do it ourselves and within our budget than the work itself. But if you want to save money and still do it right, without sacrificing aesthetic and function, I recommend to take your time in planning and research.

On this post, I will only focus on sharing all the details on how we built our kitchen island, which is the biggest change and really transformed the look of our kitchen in so many ways. I really think this addition made our house look more expensive. However, there will be a part 2 blog post to share how we painted the kitchen cabinets white and how I organize the kitchen to make it more efficient and functional.

Above is our beautiful kitchen island that me my husband proudly built. And on this blog post I am sharing the exact process and links of products we used. But first take at look at the before pictures of our kitchen below.

As you can see our old kitchen is very brown and not enough counter space. I was actually using our breakfast table (as shown in pic no. 1) as prep space especially when I’m decorating a cake. So after all the measurements and planning, making sure that we have clearance around the island for at least two person can pass at the same time and also making sure that we have enough clearance when opening cabinets and other appliances such as the oven, dishwasher, and refrigerator. So after considering all of that, we are clear to build a 3 feet wide by 8 feet long kitchen island with a seating for at least 6 people. Also, I just want to disclose that we are not professionals and this kitchen island was built for our personal use only and we will not be held liable of anything that can go wrong if you choose to do the same. Please keep in mind to use safety practices such as wearing safety goggles, gloves etc. in using manual or power tools needed in building this kitchen island. If you are not comfortable doing it yourself, hire or ask someone to do it.

The Process

Using a blue tape, I marked the exact placement of the kitchen island. The plan is to have at least 5 feet of storage space.

So based on the specific function and storage that we need, we got three unfinished cabinets from Lowe’s. A 30-inch base cabinet, 15-inch base cabinet, and an 18-inch drawers base cabinet. We also bought 2 x3s, 2 x 4s and 1 x 3s boards for support, decorative purposes and to attach the cabinets to the floor.

  1. We arranged the cabinets according to the function we want and attached them together using screws and a few wood sims making sure everything is level and square (this is very important).
  2. We removed all the drawers temporarily so the cabinets will be easier to maneuver. Next, we attached it to the floor using a 1 x 1 blocks of wood on each corner inside the cabinet base with a concrete screw with an electric drill.
  3. To add more support, we attached the 2 x 4 boards on the back side of the cabinets. And this is necessary if you plan to use a solid stone countertop to prevent cabinet warping.
  4. After attaching all the support. We used a finished plywood to cover the sides of the cabinets. As you can see on this picture, I used plastic clamps to hold them while attaching if you don’t have extra hands to help. These clamps are such big help in these project.
  5. Then we covered the entire back with a finished plywood using wood screws.

6. After covering all the cabinet sides with a finished plywood, we attached the 1 x 3s for a more finished look.

7. We sanded all the cabinets, including the doors and drawers using a an electric sander. Wiped it all clean. Then we primed the cabinets and drawers using this primer. We let it dry for at least 2 hours.

8. Then we painted them with two coats of a white cabinet paint. We used the Nuvo cabinet pain in titanum white. We let it dry overnight.

9. White the paint is drying, we attached the wood column using a liquid nail to the floor. This is to support the counter top overhang for seating. We ordered these unfinished wood column at Lowe’s.

10. Here’s another angle of the wood column showing the other side. We let it dry overnight.

11. We primed the wood column and attached them to the cabinet using the 2 x 2s and some screw.

12. I attaching the 2 x 2s, we pre drill holes using a Kreg pocket hole jig to secure it better.

13. We added some finished 1 x 3s for more support and a finished look.

14. Here’s a top view of the attachment on the front over hang.

15. Then we fill up all the holes, sanded and finished painting the columns.

16. This is how it looks with all the support connecting the three columns to the cabinet.

17. While waiting for the counter top we special ordered. We attached cabinet pulls on all the drawers and doors. We purchased these matt black ones from Amazon.

18. We wanted at least 6 counter height chairs for seating and these wicker chairs with metal legs from World Market are perfect. They have that natural element that I love and yet the metal legs still makes it look modern.

19. Now the most expensive part of this kitchen island. I fell in love with this slab as soon as I saw it in the stone yard. This is the Callacata Aria quartz which is one of the newest ones that just came out of the market and is popularly used by a lot of designer kitchen.

20. Here she is installed! This quartz countertop only that it looks amazing but because it’s not as porous, it is stain resistant, therefore it’s easy to clean.

We really love how our d.i.y kitchen island turned out. It’s not only beautiful, but it’s very functional. It functions not just as a prepping area, but also perfect for dining or just hanging out for a coffee time. I love it when the kids just sit here and study or do their homework while I cook. This is definitely now everyone’s favorite spot in our home.

If you have any questions about any of the products we used, or just drop word of encouragement, feel free to post it down the message section below. Thanks for stopping by. God bless you all!

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