My Island Dreams Don’t Involve Balmy Breezes

by Katy on November 21, 2010 · 30 comments

I wrote last week about how I’ve been hunting down the perfect kitchen island. I had looked at an island from Craigslist, rejected it and then stopped at an estate sale on the way home. My friend Sara was also at the estate sale, and she told me about the kitchen island she had constructed from chrome metro shelving and a piece of butcher block. Sara is super creative and a fantastic seamstress, so I knew I needed to see this for myself. A few days later I finagled an invite to her house, and camera in hand, invaded her kitchen.

Sara's kitchen island for her "One butt kitchen."

Sara calls her kitchen a “one butt kitchen,” referring to the small space and apparent frequency of bumping butts when more than one person attempts to work in the kitchen. Luckily my kitchen is more like a “four butt kitchen,” so I envisioned a larger island. Sara had bought used metro shelving at a restaurant supply store, adding a few new components such as the wheels. The butcher block top was bought elsewhere, with holes drilled to accommodate the posts.

I drove that afternoon to Rose’s Restaurant supply to scope out the prices and availability of used shelving, and was less than impressed. There was only one shelf piece without rust, and didn’t relish the task of buying one piece at one store and another across town. I wanted the kitchen island complete before Thanksgiving’s mega cooking spree.

My husband pointed out that we already had a large metro shelving unit in the closet of our downstairs bedroom, but I didn’t really want to cannibalize it, as it was in use by the Japanese teaching intern who’s living with us. Sure, he’s in Japan at the moment, but I didn’t think it would be very nice to remove his storage. But then I took a second look at at and realized that there was actually enough shelving for my kitchen island and his guy stuff.

The butcher block top I knew would be cheapest from Ikea, although I did put a the question out there on my Facebook page for other ideas. My friend Bryony responded, saying she had a large butcher block table top in her basement which had been used for their kitchen island, but had since been replaced by granite. It did have a big chunk cut out from where the cooktop was, but I was welcome to come take a look at it. Sadly, the available footage was too small for what I needed, but we had a lovely couple of hours bonding over our shared love of frugality, (her house was 58°, there was laundry on an indoor rack and her cup of tea was reheated, although mine was fresh.)

Okay. I had explored the non-Ikea options, it was now time to admit defeat and drive over to the mega mall/mecca of Scandinavian design. I had been over earlier in the week on a fact finding mission and knew exactly what I wanted, which was a the Numerär birch 49-5/8″ X 25-5/8″/ 1-1/2″ thick butcher block. I brought some muscle, (my husband) and the kiddos and even fed them from the cafeteria. (Swedish meatballs and mashed potatoes for the adults and breaded chicken and fries for the kids.) We scoured the scratch and dent department to see if they had any butcher block, and then finally shelled out the $89.

Once home, it was a matter of maybe an hour to assemble the shelving and drill the holes. And now I have exactly the kitchen island I want. And my vintage dinette table? It’s on Craigslist for $100.

My new kitchen island! I had my husband orient the butcher block so there's seating at one end. The stool was sitting unused in the basement!

Katy Wolk-Stanley

“Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without”

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

Susan November 21, 2010 at 10:57 am

I just love your kitchen.

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Angela@MyYearWithoutSpending November 21, 2010 at 11:14 am

I love your new island. Actually, I like it better than your friend’s and better than the ones I’ve coveted in catalogs in the past, because of its simplicity.

The stool is perfect for one of your boys to sit and read or do homework and keep you company while you’re fixing dinner.

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Katy November 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm

That’s my fantasy. I’m blissfully cooking dinner while a kid peacefully completes his homework.

-Katy

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Jennifer November 21, 2010 at 2:34 pm

I love it. The kitchen we’re acquiring in January would actually have the space too. Hmm…

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Amy H. November 21, 2010 at 4:58 pm

Katy, this is completely fantastic. Way to go! Nice kitchen.

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Barbara November 21, 2010 at 5:27 pm

Katy it looks great! Your kitchen is beautiful….so clean and clutter-free!

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Katy November 21, 2010 at 7:04 pm

Look closer. There are dirty dishes in the sink. 🙂

Katy

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ellen November 21, 2010 at 5:51 pm

Very nice! I hope you sell your “old” table quickly!

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Mrs. B November 21, 2010 at 6:23 pm

We are moving to another rental….I asked my hubby if we could do this. He thinks it would be a great idea. We have lots of that type of shelving. I use it in the closets for sweaters, bookcases, garage storage, and now a kitchen island.

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Aleta November 21, 2010 at 6:47 pm

Great post! I really enjoy your blog.

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Rebecca November 21, 2010 at 7:09 pm

I have been envisioning something just like this for our kitchen which is also a 1 butt at a time space. Some step by step pics would be great.

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Katy November 21, 2010 at 8:04 pm

My husband set the butcher block on the floor and measured out where the posts would go. He then drilled about halfway through the butcher block. Turn it all upside down and voila, you’ve got a kitchen island.

Very easy.

Katy

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Angela@beggingtheanswer November 22, 2010 at 3:51 am

Awesome! Glad you got the type of island you were looking for. A little patience paid off!

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Krista November 22, 2010 at 5:23 am

It looks great!! We don’t have room for this in our current place but I think it is a great idea for down the road. Plus, it is very easy to keep clean!

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Jeanine November 22, 2010 at 6:15 am

I’m about to sell quite a bit of furniture from my fathers’ home.

I would love to know if you are able to sell that 17 year old formica table for a 100.00.

(does it have chairs?)

If you are, I have my stuff seriously underpriced.

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Erin November 22, 2010 at 6:47 am

Bravo! I love the ingenuity involved!

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Barb @ 1 Sentence Diary November 22, 2010 at 6:53 am

So, nu? When am I invited over for tea?

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Deb November 22, 2010 at 8:37 am

That is so flippin’ brilliant I can hardly believe it! Oh to have a 4 butt kitchen. :::sigh:::

We’ve got a huge empty space under a counter, and I am going to have my hubby build something like this so we can wheel it out to use when needed, and it’s also great storage. SO awesome! Thanks for sharing, Katy!

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Kim November 22, 2010 at 9:27 am

I love the way your island turned out – even if there are no balmy breezes! I wish my dining room wasn’t in my kitchen. But that’s the way it is for now! Very nice job.

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Mary Ellen November 22, 2010 at 12:12 pm

Thanks for the blog. I love it and look forward to reading it. Also- I love your island!!

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Jinger November 22, 2010 at 2:56 pm

I love seeing this island in your kitchen and wishing my kitchen was big enough for one just like it!

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Tricia November 23, 2010 at 9:24 am

This is a great idea. I need the counter space more than anything. I may just have to add another item to my husband’s honey do list.

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Missy November 23, 2010 at 9:52 am

I love your formica table! It would look great in my ’50s kitchen, but sadly, I cannot justify buying it when I already have a table.

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Jean November 23, 2010 at 10:26 am

Very nice, and very frugal compared to store bought alternatives. I am almost ashamed of what I paid for our island when we redid our kitchen about 8 years ago, but I do still love it and we use it all the time.
You will wonder what you ever did without one!

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Angie December 1, 2010 at 9:34 am

Great idea! It might also look cute with some fabric around the sides, if you have enough of one kind on hand! It would likely take a lot 🙂

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Sara Tetreault December 1, 2010 at 10:34 am

Katy, your kitchen island turned out great! My one-butt kitchen looks pretty good, too. I see that we have matching Kitchen Aid mixers…you’re welcome to borrow my pattern to slipcover your mixer. It requires very little fabric.

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Katy December 1, 2010 at 7:27 pm

We would still be island-free if it weren’t for running into you that day. Thanks!

-Katy

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kaidiasnsdlkjf May 2, 2011 at 6:10 pm

We would still be island-free if it weren’t for running into you that day. Thanks!

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Vivian October 1, 2013 at 8:47 am

I have a husband who could easily make a portable kitchen island. I would love for it to have a marble top of some kind but think the budget and the structural soundness of a portable island are not compatible.

Will I be getting one soon? Depends on how much wining I do or if I attempt to make it myself. —- If I attempt to make it he will be there to pick up the project when it starts going south in his eyes and will not look like something he is happy to have in his house… lol.

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