DIY Kitchen Island {from new unfinished furniture to antique!}

diy kitchen remodel wood counter island

Many of you might remember back when I talked about my unfinished kitchen island and my uncertainty about how I was going to finish it (or if I was actually even going to keep it).

Well, as you probably saw in the recent kitchen reveal, I finally made up my mind — the island not only stayed in the kitchen but it got a new distressed antique furniture look!

two tones kitchen island with stained wood top

kitchen island with wood top

Did refinishing the island take special DIY blogger super skill, fancy tools or equipment or a workshop where you have to wear a safety mask and goggles?

Nope. Not at all! This was EASY. Unless you consider a bag of screws, a hammer and a can of stain scary DIY supplies.

unfinished kitchen island pegs

Here is what it looked like BEFORE.

Just a simple, unfinished piece of furniture. (Sitting on hardwood floors with holes, heheh, all prior to the new floors).

Ideally we would have wanted a real antique table from a thrift store or something, but we already had this island (it was given to us) so it was free. Free is good. Very good. So we cheated and made it into what we wanted, an antique!

If you can find an affordable new island or table that works for you but is a little “too new” looking or not exactly what you want, you can make it look older! Easy peasy! Or if you are so inclined, you could build one or have someone build it for you.

unfinished kitchen island

Here are the basics of what we did to distress this piece and how to do it yourself!

1) Start with an unfinished piece of furniture. Obviously you can also use a finished piece too. 

2) If you want a time-worn look, beat up the top. You do not have to beat up your counter top if you don’t want to. My old wood kitchen counters were smooth and pretty like a brand new piece of furniture. That was the look I wanted for that kitchen and we loved it.

But for this island we decided we wanted a more rugged contrast from the pretty white countertops.  We wanted something that had a bit more character and that “been there a long time” look, something we could abuse without fear! Reclaimed wood is cool looking so we decided that was kind of what we were after.

tools for faux reclaimed wood distressing

So to get started, we grabbed our furniture stain, a few tools and started wrecking the top of our island.

It was therapeutic, actually. You cannot mess this up unless you accidentally hit your thumb with the hammer. And, those screws are SHARP so be careful when you start beating your island up.

how to distress furniture
We really scratched and gauged the top A TON using our high tech skilled DIY’er tools: a piece of sandpaper to rough things up, a baggie of screws and nails (just hit the baggie on the counter surface), and a screw driver and hammer to dent it.

distressing furniture

What was REALLY effective for us was this FUN but loud technique: use the hammer to soften the edges of the counter and wear it down in a few places. Just hammer away around the edge of the counter and see how cool it looks! We also just grabbed screws and screw drivers and dinged the top up in random places.


3) Next we sanded any sharp or rough places with a sanding pad so it was smooth (but still dented and scratched) and then wiped it down with a cloth to remove all the dust.

jacobean wood stain for countertop

4) The stain we chose was Minwax Jacobean.

We wanted a medium to dark rich tone for the wood so this one seemed perfect. We put the stain on with an old brush and a foam one (really you can use whatever you have but something old and not fancy is all you really need), let it sit for awhile (follow the directions on the can) and then wiped the excess off with a cloth. I think we repeated that about four times, waiting a few hours to a day or so in between each coat. You can judge how many applications you need, if your piece accepts the stain right away once might be enough. Ours was stubborn because it had been previously sealed.

kitchen island with wood top

diy reclaimed wood counter island unfinished furniture

You’ll notice the stain will settle in the distressed parts. Those areas will become much darker than the rest, so be aware. That is the look I wanted, but if you want consistency in the color then you might not want to distress it.

5) I finished up the top with Aqua Spar to give it a nice water resistant finish (you know, to protect all the beautiful damage we inflicted on the top, haha). Maybe this part was unnecessary but I’m not a pro at this and I probably do random things I don’t need to. This was the product we used on our unstained cherry counters in our old house so we just decided to use it here. Just because.

6) After the counter top was done, we painted the legs and body of the piece with dove white, the same as our white cabinets. We deliberated on all sorts of colors but in the end, simple and white won out. We didn’t want the paint to look shabby so we didn’t go for that chipped or peeling paint look, although we did distress the legs a bit with our techniques mentioned above so the entire piece would look aged. And for a little more fun (and because painted white shelves would have been a pain in the rump to keep looking good) we stained the shelves with stain too.

refinishing kitchen counter top

7) Lastly, we personalized the piece by removing the wood pegs and knobs and adding our own favorites:  Brass Anthro animal knobs and Rejuvenation hooks on the side — perfect for hanging towels or oven mitts!

distressing furniture a kitchen island makeover

I’m quite pleased with it and how it added so much character to our kitchen! PS. The kitchen source and detail post will be out probably Monday, I’m almost done!

For more kitchen island inspiration, check out this post!

And for a helpful tutorial and video on how to make new furniture look old, check out Young House Love’s post!

Bamboo Blinds {Kitchen Project}

grey kitchen, stainless steel appliances, bamboo shades.

To see the exact blinds, click this link here. The color I have is called Bamboo Tortoise.
To order use my referral link above and enter this special code DESI9N for the best discount!

There is a special discount ordering code and link available near the end of this post so don’t miss it!

Thanks so much for all your super nice comments about my kitchen remodel and reveal. I have to be honest, I was scared to post thinking maybe it wasn’t good enough or people wouldn’t like it, so thanks for alleviating my crazy blogging fears. It is scary being a blogger sometimes, putting yourself out there and not knowing what will happen. BIG SIGH OF RELIEF! Thanks!

One of the most frequently asked questions on the kitchen was about the bamboo blinds. Since I haven’t posted about the blinds yet I decided to answer the question of where I got them and what they are so you can find this answer later if you need it! Rest assured, I’ve read every single comment and will answer all of the questions in my upcoming kitchen source post and the DIY island makeover post.

To see the exact blinds, click this link here. The color I have is called Bamboo Tortoise.

bamboo blinds in the inspired room family room

So, after seeing how my kitchen was coming together late last fall and once all my window trim was painted in the whole kitchen family room, I actually loved the open clean look of NO blinds!

But, alas, we don’t have the best view and wanted a little more privacy at these windows, so I decided that I was going to go with my long-time loves at the windows — bamboo blinds. I had a variation of these at my old house too and loved them!

repainting the family room glidden wood smoke and polished grey

Above is what the family room looked like as we were painting it and with our previous blinds.

kitchen with grey cabinets and subway tile

While cloth roman shades or curtains are always pretty, the bamboo roman-style shades just seemed like the most logical and practical choice for our rooms. They bring the warmth of natural wood to the upper part of the room, balancing out the warmth of the floors. I LOVE the texture and style. They would look good with any decor for years to come (unlike a trendy fabric that might grow tired, not match a current color scheme, or get dirty). Plus, I always have the option of adding curtain panels if I want to so all around, bamboo was a winner!

bamboo blinds tortoise

I’ve always loved these particular tortoise bamboo shades because of their coloring! They add so much to the overall feel of the space. Once I ordered them, I was worried they would make the room too dark but they were really just the perfect finishing touch. Texture in a room is SO important and every layer makes such a difference.

To see the exact blinds, click this link here. The color I have is called Bamboo Tortoise.

close up tortoise bamboo blinds

When you look at them closely, they have an almost greenish tinge mixed in to the natural wood tones, but that is actually why I chose them over other options, I wanted to create more depth with my color palette —  the multi tone effect in the bamboo with a slight hardly even perceptible greenish tone is really pretty with the shades of blues I have in the kitchen. Multiple shades of blues and greens gives so much more interest than selecting everything the same tone and shade.

gray and white kitchen with farmhouse sink and bamboo shades

For continuity and flow throughout the kitchen and family room, I chose the same blinds for all windows including the sliding door. I can get away with blinds on the doors with an inside mount, because my doors are quite tall. The door blinds are actually two blinds so you can open and shut them independently. Same with the family room blinds, which are three separate blinds all on the same header.

All of my blinds in these rooms are inside mount because I love my window trim. If you don’t like your trim, have no trim, want to mount your blinds higher than the windows, or your window frame isn’t deep enough to accommodate blinds, you can order them to be outside mount. Either way, they look wonderful!

bamboo blinds the inspired room family room

Mostly we got these bamboo blinds for how awesome they look when they are pulled up, but also for those two hot sunny days we get in the summer here in the NW, or for the days that we want a little more warmth in the house or privacy. They pull up and down like a dream so that makes it more likely that we will open and shut them regularly! I would like to get more of these for the front of the house and the dining room too. On my wish list for someday!

We do not yet have a place to wrap the cord, so that is next on my to do list. I plan to attach a small hook to the side of each window to keep the cording tucked out of the way.

To see the exact blinds, click this link here. The color I have is called Bamboo Tortoise.

The Inspired Room readers can get the best DISCOUNT (40% off) plus any special offers on any orders from Select Blinds using the following code when you order >>DESI9N.

The blinds were so easy to order, I actually did all the measuring myself and ordered FROM MY PHONE. Risky all around but they turned out beautifully and I couldn’t be happier!

They were super easy to install, my husband and I put them up together during what we called our “blind date.” Best blind date I ever had! And if we can install our own blinds, I know you more skilled DIY’ers can too!

10 Most FAQ Bamboo Blinds and Curtains The Inspired RoomFind FAQ on my blinds: here!

2016 UPDATE: The Inspired Room readers can get the best DISCOUNT available plus an additional discount on orders from Select Blinds using the following code when you order >>DESI9N.

Stay tuned for more details on the kitchen! I will answer all the questions you had and give sources too!

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