When we first toured this old house back in May 2020, we had lots of big plans for remodeling and renovating. We were so excited to be purchasing our first home, and the prospect of what “could be” was just FUN! This little place has such great potential. 

One of the things we have discussed from the start was adding an island to the kitchen. We had frequently discussed building one, and Andrew looked at multiple styles, trying to figure out what would work. But, there’s this thing called money...

As the financially-conscious person in the family, I constantly wondered how we could make this work without spending a lot of money. I knew we wouldn’t be buying a brand new island. NO. WAY. Both of us frequently browse online platforms such as OfferUp, Craiglist, and FaceBook Marketplace, and we go to The ReStore, Redesirables, and various thrift stores fairly often. But, we just weren’t finding anything we really liked. 

So, we started looking at anything that we thought we could transform into an island!

I found a large, old wooden cabinet at an estate sale that I thought might work. It was only $25 – surely we could do something with it. So, I paid for it, and Andrew picked it up after work that day.

The lovely cabinet

Side story: When he picked this thing up, he had a humorous encounter the lady running the estate sale. It went something like this…

“Did your wife tell you what she wanted to do with this?” she asked suspiciously.

(No, I didn’t tell HER what I wanted to do with it. At least… I don’t think so. 😂)

“Um…yes?” he responded.

I imagine she raised her eyebrow and laughed inside. “Well, I was just asking because wives come and buy stuff you know, and don’t tell their husbands, and it turns out it won’t work for what they’re wanting.”

Well, honey, we managed to make it work. 🤓


We had to do several things to get what we wanted out of it:

  • paint the cabinet white
  • find a countertop (preferably butcher block or something similar)
  • stain the countertop a darker color
  • build shelves + stain the same as the countertop

I LOVE to do this kind of work. Unfortunately, I couldn’t participate in most of it, because Annie isn’t quite ready to babysit herself. 😉 Also, I am too clumsy to attempt using a table saw or any other potentially life-threatening device… I can barely keep a coffee mug in its proper position. So, Andrew did most, if not all, of the work. 

I think he had a good time. 😄

We used the same white paint we had from painting the walls before we moved in – Bistro White. We both LOVE white. (We plan to do the same color at least on the top cabinets in the kitchen…someday.)

Still a couple coats to go

We purchased two slats of some unfinished Spruce Pine Fir Board from Lowe’s, which Andrew glued together using Liquid Nails. This formed our countertop. Then, he used the same magic to attach it to the cabinet.

The coffee cup, representing a vital part of this project 😛

As you can see, the island was in our house at this point. We quickly learned that we needed to finish the wood PRONTO. It was rough, and it could not be cleaned with water. Due to my consistent clumsiness, this was absolutely necessary for us! So, we went to Sherwin Williams and purchased a can of Pre-Stain, a can of Espresso Finish, and a can of Polyurethane wood sealer. Andrew got to work right away! (After he got a friend to help him move it to the garage, that is…)

Shiiiiiiiny pre-stain!

Another lesson learned: staining should have been done before gluing, just to avoid the task of moving this monster. Ha. Good to know for next time!

Isn’t it so lovely?

This time, with my tremendous help, he moved the island back into our kitchen. We had to return to Lowe’s and get another slat of wood and some hardware for the shelves. After some semi-humorous mistakes (though Andrew didn’t think they were remotely humorous), we had shelves!

They really are the same color as the countertop.

We were so excited about having our island completed and ready to use! However, we soon learned that the shelves should have stayed in the garage for awhile after they were stained… Oops. Let’s just say we made sure fans were running in the kitchen and the air humidifier was going in our bedroom that night. 😏

Andrew has already made good use of it while working from home. (Notice Buddy sitting in front of the little heater?)

We may do a couple more things to do it, but for now, it’s all set. I absolutely love how it turned out! It has some character (flaws) to it, but for our first big renovation project, I think it looks pretty great. Hopefully next time, I can be more hands-on during the process!

Computers, computers, everywhere! Oh… and my dying plant.

How do you think it turned out? What would you have done differently? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

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