Thursday, May 31, 2012

I Am A Block. I Am An I-i-island - (A Butcher Block Island, That Is)

Two days ago we made a little more progress on our butcher block island countertop. Earlier in our remodel we shifted the position of our builder island, and we are enlarging the top to allow for more seating. Here's an in-progress pic. Haha, a lot of this kitchen is "in progress"! See how we are still missing a microwave for over the range? Missing the shelf I intend to run below the (now raised) cabinets? And of course, out of frame is the entire missing set of floating shelves, with all my dishes on stackable racks from Walmart. Well, at least we've made a little progress.

This is the Ikea Numerar countertop in beech. It comes in a size of 73 1/4" by 39 3/8" by 1 1/2" thick, for $195, which is about $9.60/sq. ft. We kept the width but took the length down to about 60". I changed my mind about the finished size (me? change my mind?), so now we have a piece that is about 10" and a piece that is about 13 1/2" to make into cutting boards or possibly use as shelves elsewhere. For the first cut, Tyson dragged the behemoth piece of wood over to Lowe's and cut it there. Lowe's wasn't too keen on that, but they let him do it. For the second cut, we borrowed a circular saw and did it at home.  Then we sanded the butcher block with a random orbital sander, routered the edges, and placed it on rags on the island so we could oil the bottom before turning it over and affixing it to the base of the island. I'll detail our butcher block finishing options, techniques, and decision in a later post.

I had originally intended to make the island significantly larger and build it out like a table because I wanted to be able to seat five people around it. Here are some of my inspiration pics for that phase of the idea. This one is the same builder-grade island as mine, but repainted, bun feet added, new door hardware, and table legs and apron added to support the butcher block top. I wanted to do this for the functionality, but was not sold on the look. Tyson REALLY wasn't sold on the look, so I finally let the idea go.

Painted Black + White
Look at the lovely thick butcher block on this one! I think I like the legs better without the table apron.

This one is unique in that it drops the eating area to table height. Beautiful pendant lights, too.

If we went with legs, I wanted simple square ones like these:

I also considered adding flexibility by raising the island up on rolling casters, but it would have to be reinforced a lot due to its somewhat flimsy construction, and really, in a house this small, where would I roll it to?

I really like the concept of this next one, with the lowered kitchen table seating attached to one end of the island, but it would work in my traffic flow. One of Tyson's uncles has a huge kitchen island with a child-height table attached to one end. Genius! I will have to snap a pic next time I am at their house.

Here's a builder island redo that's more of a redirection than an expansion. Cute, nonetheless. A tutorial is included at the link.

At The Picket Fence
The last one I only came across a couple of days ago, or I might have wanted to incorporate this into my own design, even though it cuts the seating space down to two stools. This builder-grade island was expanded with display shelves and a larger butcher block top. Perfect place for cookbooks or (in my life) even for decent-looking kids toys. I'd be scared to put my kitchenware on the shelves for fear of what my toddler and preschooler would do to my things! But I do love the look. There are more pics at the link.

Doesn't everyone love a good "Before" shot? Here's my kitchen a few months ago:

And again, where we are now:

We've still got a long way to go, but I see some progress!

Soooo...on another note, what kind of stools do you think would look better than the ones I've got going on? What kind of brackets or corbels? Have you tried to upgrade a builder-grade item in your home, rather than tearing it out completely? I also recently spray-painted my master vanity light fixtures, and I'm happy with the result for the $4 investment! Our little condo is at a price point that we need to make sure we don't over-improve it or else we'll never recoup any of the investment. granite or marble counters will be going on up in here!


  1. Love, love the white cupboards. Love, love this blog too! Can't wait to read more.

  2. title for a blog post ever! :)
    We've decided not to over-improve in our condo for the same reason (i.e. no granite counters will be going up here either, sad to say). We'll probably have to do some re-carpeting before trying to sell though. I've heard of something called "grout armor" (I think) which is supposed to be an inexpensive way to make old grout look new again. I definitely want to try it in our standing shower. Looking at your white cabinets really makes we want to paint mine...