Kitchen island revamp

November 16, 2010   //  Posted in: DIY, Kitchen   //  By: Emily   //  Leave a comment

The “kitchen island” that I found curbside lived in my house for about 15 months before I was in the right frame of mind to rehab it. I use the term “kitchen island” loosely because I’m fairly sure that the previous owners used this table as a planting surface or basement storage area. I lysol’ed the heck out of it and let it work for me as an extra surface in the kitchen, until just recently, when I decided it was time to do the envisioned fixes.

My kitchen island-to-be. Yeah, I did eat dinner on it the day I brought it home (after a good scrub).

The original table had some interesting elements that I liked – built-in shelves and dowel details on the sides, cute scalloped legs, and a generally nice frame. The height was an issue. I’m a tall 5’8″, so I couldn’t easily do much slicing and dicing on the low tabletop surface.  The vinyl tabletop was also an issue – old and eternally dirty, let alone the fact that it didn’t match anything I owned.

What’d I do? Tore off the top of the table and trashed it. I’m pretty sure I found mold in there too (insert completely horrified face). The remaining frame was carefully disassembled, cleaned, and reassembled in such a way to re-purpose the shelves on one side and dowels. New legs (1″x3″ and 1″x6″ boards) cost approx $15 from Home Depot (I even sprung for higher quality lumber) and the height of the new table matches the height of the countertop, so it’s perfectly comfortable to work at now.

Cautiously destructed the kitchen island.


Reassembled the island. New long legs make it counter-height.

Butcherblock would have been a PERFECT new top to this table, but I couldn’t afford a new piece, and decided that I wanted to paint the surface white eventually (there are too many types of wood in that kitchen already), so I headed to Home Depot to see if I could find any inspiration. I found some tongue-and-groove flooring in a clearance area that I decided to try – it seemed sturdy when I laid it together in the store, and I ended up only needing three-10′ boards ($9 total, since they were on sale). I thought some 1″x2″ boards might suffice as a trim/casing for the tabletop. We glued, and let that dry for a day, trimed the edges even, applied some underneath support (with Pete’s new nail gun!), and sanded, sanded, sanded.

Nail gun! Adding support to the underside of the tabletop.


He's a more patient power sander than me.

The final table will need to be painted (probably white) again, but I’m leaving as-is for now.

New kitchen island, assembled!


Close-up of the tabletop (made of tongue-and-groove floorboards and 1"x2" trim)

Afternoon project: DIY Pergola

November 16, 2010   //  Posted in: Backyard, Deck, DIY   //  By: Emily   //  5 responses

Pergolas weren’t part of the original deck design, but we quickly realized that the city wouldn’t approve the construction without handrails on the higher levels of the deck. Instead of installing boring-and-exactly-what-you-would-expect railings along the top edges of the deck (blah! I wanted to retain the sleek and unobstructed look!), I thought it might be interesting to disguise the railings in a pergolas, delicately installed over the doorways.

We did some research. Some pergolas out there are admittedly a little more complex than my simple deck needed, or more than we could have afforded, but most seemed manageable from a DIY sense. We both agreed that if we had considered the pergolas sooner, we could have incorporated the posts into the actual deck construction, but in the end I’m OK with the way we installed this (each post is sitting in a little metal brace which is attached to the floorboards). Any future homeowner could easily (really easily) remove the pergola wholly and put up their own boring rail.

The best part of this one was that we used boards that were already cut to length – 8′ high posts, and 10′ long “girders”. The crossbeams at the top took a little longer to make because they were cut to fit snuggly like puzzle pieces to add strength to the structure. It’s all pressure-treated, and soon will be weatherproofed too (add to to-do’s… winter is coming fast). Beginning to end, including a trip to Home Depot, this project probably only took 6 hours.

  • assembling beams and girders for pergola #1
  • structure upright!
  • custom-cut 2x4's top off the structure. (I sort of thought they might look nice paired instead of evenly spaced when I first saw them go up.)
  • First pergola completed! (Another will go over the raised area in the back right, stay tuned.)

Notice that stuff is missing? The siding is replaced soon so it was OK that it came down. The deck’s motion light is also removed right now (we had to lower it 3″ to accommodate the girder closest to the house). Oh, and the railing. I’m getting to it (add to to-do’s). Instead of traditional spindles, I was inspired by Peter Kirsch-Korff and want to try something like this, a clean horizontal rail.

What next? My friends own a great nursery outside of Ithaca, NY. I’d love to find a pretty arborvitae and some clematis to grow up the left side and over the top of the pergola. I also found some great hanging plant holders from Anthropologie (on clearance!) that I’ll probably hang in the spring. Also, very shortly there will be an accompanying pergola installed over the other part of the deck that’s raised. Stay tuned.