Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Our New Island Oasis

When we bought our house a little over a year ago, I fell in love with the tri-level floor plan.  I also fell in love with the amount of space the kitchen had, considering the house was built in 1979.  It also has a good amount of counter space--but not that much of the counter space is located by the stove.  The prior owners had a pub height table in the middle of the kitchen, so I knew that there would be room enough for a small island to go in that spot one day.

The day we moved into our house, my mom went out to the store and bought us a card table & folding chairs to put in the kitchen as a space holder.  The main reason for this was that there are lights at the PERFECT height for my forehead in the middle of the area--meaning I had already slammed my forehead into the glass lights 3-4 times within the first 2 hours of owning the house. Ouch.

That card table has been the platform to serve several holiday meals (i.e. Mother's Day & Thanksgiving) & to hold the food for our parties and gatherings.  But due to the short height & the flimsy structure, it was difficult to do much food prep on.

We lived with the card table for over a year while we were researching various options for the island (prefab, build with recycled cabinets, have it built, etc).  A few months ago my parents offered a very generous gift--to let us design & build a custom island for our kitchen for our first anniversary. While we felt guilty accepting such a huge gift, we were really excited.

What we were doing before...

To help us mock out the footprint of our island, my dad gave us a TV box to put on top of the table that was roughly the size of the surface of the island we were thinking would work well in the space, along with being the similar combined height of a counter.  The TV box stayed on the card table in our kitchen for 1-2 months...it was always fun to explain to people why we had a cardboard box in our kitchen.

"Is that a..?" "Why Yes...it is a cardboard
box in our kitchen."

The design process was really fun.  We ended up going with one large cabinet section with a shelf on the bottom & 2 huge drawers on top that have "soft close" mechanisms on them (impossible to slam them shut, they close slowly).  The cabinet is painted the same shade of white that the rest of our cabinets are painted, and it is trimmed with the same style of bead board that is used in our family room & guest bathroom. We had it topped with restaurant grade stainless steel.  We bought these stools from Crate & Barrel to finish off the look.

We. Love. Our. Island.  We had the option of about any type of counter top material we wanted...but I wanted to go with stainless.  A) Heat Resistant  B) Stain Resistant  C) Break Resistant  D) Super Sanitary.  It is also a great work surface to do things like candy/chocolate making or bread kneading.  The only con is that it scratches easily...but once it gets a little more wear on it, that won't be noticeable at all.

I am so grateful for this wonderful gift...and the years of enjoyment we are going to get out of the island.  Thank you Mom & Dad!!

New Island: View 1

New Island: View 2

New Island: View 3

Bottom Cabinet--Yay for pot & pan storage close to the stove!!

Closeup of the pan side of the cabinet.
As a side note, the pan stacker/organizer
from Rubbermaid (bottom left) is awesome,
and I highly suggest you get one.

Drawer 1: Yay for my spices being away from the heat of
the stove!  I can't wait to finish organizing this drawer.
Eventually all of the spices will be in the same type of bottles,
and in alphabetical order.

Drawer #2...organization still a work in progress.

Demonstration of the "soft close" drawers


  1. Hi,I have gone through your blog..and found some awesome work done by you...thanks for sharing the information..keep up the good work.!

  2. Love, love, love the island! We really need a new counter top for our island and I may have to suggest stainless steel. In our house, the island becomes the "catch all" for crap from the day. Do you have that problem?

  3. Devis-- Thank you for checking out my blog and for your kind words! If you'd like to receive updates about new posts, please enter your email address or click "follow" on the right-hand side of the home page.

    Abby- Thank you :-). I love it as well. I'm LOVING the stainless top so far. We used a local cabinet maker if you needed any contact info re: the top? I could also go look at our bill & let you know what the approximate cost was for the top. We're really happy with it.

    Yes--our island is a "catch all" as well. In fact I had to remove our coffee mugs, the mail, my keys, my lunch box, etc to take the pictures that were used in this post :-P. Now the Hubs & I are starting to use the island as desk space too because it makes a quick/easy laptop station. Sometime within the next month we will have electricity run to the island too, whenever my uncle can come over & tie in the new line.

  4. I LOVE the island. It's beautiful and looks so functional!

  5. Amy, I LOVE the custom island... soo jealous! Looks like it'll make a fantastic prep space and quick dining area as well. Stainless steel is a good choice! And I'm so glad someone else besides me labels the tops of their spice containers... haha. :-) -k.large