Tuesday, September 10, 2013

DIY Kitchen Island from an Old Armoire Tutorial


This project took way longer than expected, but turned out 10x better than I had thought it would!  I am so excited to finally share this with you!


Way back in May (a whopping 4 months ago), Ben and I decided to build ourselves a kitchen island.  No, the project didn't actually take 4 months, it just took us a long time to figure out/find what to do with the top of the island.  You could probably complete this project in about 20 hours or so total.  

We documented the first couple steps HERE, but I'll recap here anyway.  We started with a $40 armoire that we found off of Craigslist.  We chopped the top off:


It was the perfect counter height.  Total score!  Then Ben caulked all of the little cracks around the island:


He also used wood filler to fill some pretty large gaps on the back.  While the cracks in the back wouldn't have been an issue for an armoire, for a kitchen island, it needed to be taken care of!


Then, we used a power sander to sand all around and smooth the island, and painted it with "cathedral" color paint from Home Depot.  We bought a quart of paint + primer, and still have at least 1/3 left of it.  We left the original hardware on the drawers and cabinets.  I LOVE the look of them.


Our island pretty much sat in our garage all summer looking like the above picture.  We really wanted to use granite and had been browsing Craigslist almost daily hoping to find a perfect piece for a perfect price.  After several months of searching, we decided it just wasn't going to happen.  After browsing around on Pinterest, I decided to go for a wood top.  I loaded up three children and headed out to Home Depot with a big pregnant belly.  


I purchased a 15 foot board (I believe it is 10 inches wide) for just $17, and had it cut to size there.  The only problem with cheap boards?  They are uneven and have cracks and don't like to line up easily ;)  It was almost like a puzzle.  We had one board that was in pretty bad shape, and we needed to figure out the best way to arrange them.  Once we decided on a layout, we flipped them over, and screwed a smaller board across to keep them in place and provide support.  Then, we flipped it back over and placed it evenly on top of the base:


We decide on where to place screws, which was a bit tricky due to some gaps in the top of the island piece we had chopped.  But eventually, we figured it out.  We did have to remove and fill a hole from one screw that just would not attach, but otherwise, they were all fairly cooperative.  (Also, notice how the paint looks drastically different depending on the angle and light in the above and below pictures.)


Then we sanded.  And sanded.  And sanded.  While I didn't mind (and even liked) some of the unevenness of boards as I felt it created character, a big crack in one of the boards left some serious unevenness between two of the boards.  I sanded it down significantly until they reached a more appropriate gap size.  



My poor little pregnant body was so sore the day after sanding.  It was hard work!


I was completely clueless as to how to go about staining wood since I had never done it before.  I stumbled upon some great instructions (among many other things) on this gal's blog.  She has some amazing projects that I want to try!

  Once the wood was attached and sanded and smooth, we applied a coat of Minwax Pre-Stain Wood Conditioner (pictured above).  We waited about 10 minutes to dry before beginning with the stain.  We used Minwax Gel Stain in Hickory.  I applied it with a natural brush bristle, and then Ben let it sit for about 3 minutes before following behind me with a rag and wiping it off.  One coat was all we needed to achieve the color we were hoping for.


Below is a picture of the stained, but not finished island.  We let it dry for a day before moving on to the next step.


After allowing the gel stain to totally dry, I filled the gaps between wood planks (and anywhere else that needed it) with a clear silicone.  Since this will be used in the kitchen, I didn't want to have to deal with little food bits and such getting stuck in the cracks.  After that,  I applied a coat of Minwax Helmsman Spar Urethane.  I totally thought I had bought a water based one, but it turns out I did not.  I coated the entire kitchen island with this stuff to seal and protect it.  Top, sides, drawers, etc.  


Then, because I thought it was water based, I went to wash off my brush with my hands in water.  Note:  This does not work for oil based products.  Not only does it not work, but it will leave your hands a sticky mess.  After a few phone calls, I was successful at removing the stuff from my hands using vegetable oil (and then washing with soap afterwards).  Insert here my panic attack after realizing that urethane fumes are super toxic and I'm, ahem, very pregnant.  Thankfully, I did it outside and it took less than an hour.  Doesn't really help a momma worry any less, though :)

After 5 or 6 hours, I got super excited and Ben and I moved the island inside and into our kitchen.  After about 20 minutes of the fumes, it went right back outside.  It's been there for 1 full day, and will probably stay for 1 or 2 more days before coming back inside.  

But, here's a picture of this beauty inside my house:


I will try to add some better pictures once it's (back) in my house in a few days.  The lighting is just so bad and I cannot get a great shot of this beauty!  

I am so totally in love with it!  And, my husband and I really enjoyed working together on this one so much, that we decided to build ourselves a 7 foot long farmhouse style table next!  This one will hopefully go much quicker, though!

Total Costs:

*Armoire: $40
*Way-too-much wood filler: $12
*Paint for the base & sandpaper: $4 (I sold some baby clothes for $21 to pay for most of this expense, otherwise it would have been $25)
*Wood for the top: $17
*Staining supplies, including a new brush (I had nothing, and barely used any): $50
*Clear silicone adhesive: $3

Total Cost: $126!!! (my actual cost after selling the baby clothing)

A great part is that we barely used any of the gel stain, and we'd like to use that color for our table project, which means the cost of that project will decrease!


Wondering what I did with the armoire doors?  Come check out their chalkboard paint re-do HERE.

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