Upgrade Your Kitchen Island

Upgrade Your Kitchen Island

This was a super quick, inexpensive, easy weekend project, that provides a lot of character to an otherwise basic kitchen island. In other words, you will  get a lot of bang for you buck. 


Here is where my kitchen island started this past Friday afternoon. Let me say, I have always loved my kitchen, and the island is the perfect size for the room which allows me to have four barstools and eliminate the need for a kitchen table which truly opens the space up. However, I have always found that the basic drywall island was very blasé. It also seemed to get very dirty, I noticed lots of shoe marks in the bar stool location, and flat paint is not very scrubable.I did had the option when we were building our home to upgrade to a a furniture leg island, but it just didn’t grab me either, I found the legs were to slim which made the island feel very top heavy. I do actually liked the size and scale of the basic drywall island, but I wanted it to have more of a custom feel.   


This is the finished picture made Sunday morning. I am so happy with the outcome and final product, not to mention it literally took about 8 hours total to achieve the look I was wanting. Win, Win if you ask me!!!

As you can see I have a bunch of the Wainscot columns in my home. This particular upgraded trim package is part of the reason we choose to go with our builder. Even though I have a more of a industrial farmhouse chic style, I liked the classic feel of the custom trim and thought it really dressed up all the rooms. We also  have the decorative Wainscot at chair rail height (approximately 32″ above the floor) in our adjacent dinning room. So it only made sense to carry that same application through to the island. Believe me I thought about adding shiplap, which you all know I love, but I felt like the rooms were getting to shiplap heavy, and that they would lose there focus if I continued to put shiplap everywhere. Sometimes you really have to know where to draw the line with an open concept floor plans, how much is actually too much in one space.

Plus you also always want to look at the overall resale value for you home as well, just because you like it does not mean everyone will. Since the island is a permanent piece, like the columns I choose to make feel as if it was constructed that way with the rest of the home. To make it pop I added a deep gray paint to really make the Carrara Marble counter tops stand out.  In design you always want to highlight your higher ticket items, everything else should only accentuate them in a supporting role. 


Ok so here is the details of what we used and what you will need for this super easy project. 


  • Molding of choice
  • Paintable Caulk
  • Paint- we used Sherwin William Gauntlet Gray SW7019
  • Blue Painters Tape


  • Miter Box
  • Nail Gun
  • Tape Measure
  • Level 

As you can see in the picture above we pre measured and drew on the squares where the molding was to be installed. Why, you may ask? Well in my experience nothing is ever level or straight, so I would rather eyeball the squares and cheat them, to look visually correct to the human eye, rather than just doing whatever the level might say. By pre drawing the boxes no only do we one have a guidelines, but I can make sure that level is actually “visually level” which is more important to me (and my husband) at the end of the day. 

Then make you cuts with the miter box to create your frames. We cheated a bit and measured our existing column frames for continuity.

Here is how to do it, first  measure the size of your box. Then measure the width of the frame material you’ve chosen. Double that width and then add it to the length and width of the size frame box you are making. Those numbers will be the length and width of your frame material.

{Example- For example, let’s say you want to frame an 8×10 photo with wood that is 1/2” wide. That means the length of two sides of your frame must be cut to 11” and the other sides must be cut to 9” in length.}

 After cutting your 45 degree miter corners the inside of the frame should line up with your purposed box lines.
You a nail unto adhere the molding to create a frame. Caulk any gaps with paintable caulk, I like the pink kind that turns white when dry. Then paint…. ta dah…upgraded kitchen island.    


We also decided to upgrade our plugs located in the end of the island to USB plugs. I have found this seems to be the place our guest like to charge there phones, iPads, and laptops when in this space. So for about $20 a plug plus a new face plate we have built in charging stations on the island, which I am sure will be super handy. 

  All in all,  this entire project cost about $150 to do, a lot less than the $1,500 up grade, and I am very happy with the final results. It is exactly what I had envisioned in this space and it gives my kitchen the instant custom look it needed.  

Here is a look at the back side of the cabinet as well. No we did redo the cabinets, I have never seen painted cabinets that hold up very well so that idea was out. We were lucky that the mill work was already in place to make the backside also look like a piece of furniture. 

As you can see the new upgraded island has become a major focal point in the kitchen. By choosing a darker color paint I have visually weighted the island to feel like a custom piece of furniture which also makes it feel’s very solid and sturdy. The gray also helps to break up all the white in the subway tiles, cabinets and Carrara marble counter top. It also flows very well between all the spaces of our open concept family living area. I hope you have enjoyed this easy weekend upgrade, I know we sure will!!!          

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WALL PAINT- Agreeable Gray Sherwin Williams TRIM PAINT- Pure White Sherwin Williams FLOORS- Mohawk 3″Forrest Lake Oak Color: Oxford CABINETS- Georgetown Maple (Color- white) COUNTERTOP-Polished Carrara Marble OVENS- 27″ Double Wall Ovens Kitchen Aid  BACKSPLASH-  3×6 Gloss White Subway Tile Interceramic  BARSTOOLS- Allen Barstool Ballard Designs   ISLAND PENDENTS- Addie Pendents Ballard Designs MIXER- Kitchen Aid Professional 6 SPICE RACK-Kemenstrein 19 jar Revolving Rack BLENDER- Oster 6 cup Heritage 400 TOASTER-Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome COFFEE MAKER- Keurig 2.0 575 CUTTING BOARDS- West Elm (discontinued) 



  1. I love this idea, so simple yet such a big impact for your kitchen. I got to talk the hubby into this project before the holidays, and the family blows into town.

  2. Pingback: Tamara McClendon
  3. I love this idea and it looks super easy to do. I can;t believe you got your done in a day. You must be a very talented carpenter! Mine might take a little longer but it seems do-able.

  4. Brillant Idea I soooooo want to do this in my kitchen. The bar area gets so dirty and scuffed from the kiddos shoes. You have made this momma happy!!

  5. This is such a great idea, the end result is beautiful. I am now huge fan of your blog and all your projects. They are so well thought out, and explained. I feel like I can do these projects myself. Thank you for inspiring me to try DIY.

  6. I simply want to say I’m very impressed with you’re website. I’m bookmarking your blog and pinning ideas for later. You certainly have tremendous design talent, as well as well written articles. Bless you for sharing with us your website page with the world. You might just make it prettier. 😉

  7. Such a good idea, I will have to try this one. The steps are simple and easy to follow. Wish me luck!

  8. Your kitchen is beautiful and just got even better with your island project. You have such a talent are you related to the Gaines?

  9. Very shortly this site will be famous amid all blog users, mainly due to it’s good articles! I really liked your kitchen post, and am inspired to try this myself.

  10. This is a remarkable upgrade, very easy and seems to be quite impactful to the overall kitchen design. Thanks for posting such a easy weekend project.

  11. I wanted to drop you a line to mention I absolutely enjoyed this blog site. You absolutely have unique and remarkable writings. Appreciate you sharing this useful DIY Project on your web page. I has inspired me, to inspire my husband, to do this project 😉

  12. Excellent Post, great idea and nice directions on the DIY. I can’t wait to learn far more from you. That is really a tremendous website.

  13. One of the best farmhouse kitchens I have seen to date, since it is not overly country. You are so lucky to have such a beautiful place to cook with all the fun toys. I really love the molding addition on your island it really elevated it to the next level.

  14. I can not find your email subscription link or e-newsletter service. Do you have any? Kindly direct me to it, so that I could subscribe. Thanks.

    • Domo Arigato Mr. Roboto, There is a link to subscribe on my home page on the top right side. I also have a pop up option powered by Sumo. Also you maybe able to located the “Never miss a Post” option at the end one all my posts. I hope this helps you navigate to the subscription and thank for subscribing !!!!

  15. Kudos on such a great upgrade, and sharing the exact information to replicate. It seems like something I could do, so we will see as we start this weekend. Wish us luck.

  16. I am blown away by what a simple change like this made to your whole kitchen. The paint color and molding elevated the entire look, in one project. Please know that I loved your kitchen before but it just looks so much more custom now.

  17. Terrific article! This is the kind of information that should be shared across the internet. Come on over and consult with my web site . Thanks =)

  18. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I truly appreciate all your efforts and I am excitedly waiting for your next write up thanks once again.

  19. An impressive share! I’ve just forwarded this onto a co-worker who was doing a little work on his home. He actually ordered me dinner because I found it for him… lol. So thanks for allowing me to earn this reward…. Thanks for the meal!! But yeah, thank for spending time to talk about this upgrade here on your blog.

  20. Wow girl you are a designing genius. I have flipped though a couple of your posts and they are great. Not the just the same old same old, you really have some great ideas. Thanks for sharing I am bookmarking as a favorite to keep up with you.

  21. This project blows my mind, such a simply change made a huge difference in your kitchen. You took simple dry wall and made it look like a very expensive, high end piece of furniture. I am bookmarking to keep up with all your designs. Bravo!

  22. Hi there, just became a fan of your blog through Google, and have found that it is truly informative. I will be a loyal fan for as long as you continue to write. I am sure lots of people will benefit from the topics of your writing. Cheers, my dear!

  23. First of all I would like to say excellent blog! I had a quick question which I’d like to ask if you do not mind? I was curious to know how you center yourself and clear your mind before writing. I have had difficulty clearing my thoughts in getting my ideas out there. I do enjoy writing but it just seems like the first 10 to 15 minutes are usually wasted simply just trying to figure out how to begin. Any recommendations or tips? Many thanks!

    • First of all thank you for following my blog. To answer your question, I have a basic layout of what I plan on writing about though out the month and then I have a few things that just pop up. I do try to find some quiet time to myself to do the actual writing, for each post. Usually in the morning over coffee or late at night the the house gets quiet. I like to be fresh and clear prior to writing, since I tend to have a stream of consciousness style of writing. That alone takes me forever to edit, and sometimes I just let it fly. Hopefully this helps you out. 🙂

    • Thanks James, I think all the important skills involved on completing the island belong to my husband!!! I just had the vision and pick a paint color ….:)

  24. The upgrade is beautiful. It made it go from looking plain to looking very expensive. Good idea.

    • Thanks Lois, after building the house we decide there were so many things we could save money on by doing it ourselves. I call it my caviar taste on a tuna fish budget. Be sure to check back I have a whole lot more where that came from. 🙂

  25. Oh my God, now I am in love with this kitchen interior. I always liked light colors for kitchen and also I like chairs.

    • Thank you so much, I am quite smitten with it myself. I call it me Pinterest dream kitchen come the life!!! The barstools are the Allen barstool from Ballard Designs.

  26. You’re so talented!!! I’ve bookmarked your site to use when I start my upgrades on the house my husband and I just bought. I am completely decor-challenge.

    • Thank you and I so glad you found some useful posts. I am honor to be bookmarked and look forward to see in you stop ny again 🙂

  27. You have a beautiful home! I really like what you did with the island – completely changed it up! It looks amazing!

    • Thank you, I really love to share simple DIY projects that can make a huge designer impact. Please stop by again 🙂

  28. I’m definitely a fan, you did an amazing job. The dark color on the island worked really well. Beautiful kitchen overall.

    • Thank you!!! I love the paint color too, it’s Gauntlet Gray from Sherwin Williams. It really weighted the room properly. Thanks fro stopping by hope your drop by again soon 🙂

  29. what a beautiful home, and great project. I am not a DIY-er, so it would probably take me a month instead of a day. Thank you so much for the detailed instructions!

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