An Old New Kitchen Island

Since the time we first bought our house, about 9 years ago, I really wanted an island in my kitchen, but since we added a two-story addition, there just was no money in the budget to accommodate that fantasy. Every time we have visited a house with an island, I have just loved how an island, even a small one, can enhance work flow and provide additional prep space. This most recently was brought to mind when we stayed at the beach house for the girls' birthday last April. The house had a small granite-topped island(right) that served as a baking center with all appliances, equipment and accessories for baking collected in one place. Since this island was in the center of a kitchen about the same size as mine, I started thinking that this is something that would work and so I started looking around for some alternatives that would not require demolition and construction.

The first alternative we thought about is an old butcher block, something my husband has always wanted. But while they look awesome and offer some prep/counter area, the drawbacks are that they are extremely heavy, and they offer no additional storage, something I was really hoping to gain.

I started looking at a kitchen-cart type of island. I thought that would give me space, and I could position it where I wanted to provide extra workspace and flexibility. I checked several sites including my staples Amazon and Overstock, as well as some others such as
and Kitchen Island Superstore. I was impressed with the versatility that there was- so I knew I was not the only one with "kitchen island envy".However, I had a hard time finding something with the features I wanted in my price range.

Then a possible solution fell into our laps. We have been buying furniture at auction for most of our married life, and our favorite haunt is the Phoebus Auction Gallery. Their catalog for each auction is online so it is easy to find whatever you are looking for. And if you know what you are looking for and set yourself a spending limit, you can get great deals on furniture, rugs, art...just about anything you could need for your home. Which brings me back to my island.In looking at the auction catalog, I saw an antique store counter made of oak and it occurred to me that it might make a good island, offering both the prep space and storage we wanted, with the added bonus of being a real antique. After taking the measurements, it appeared that it would fit so we prepared to bid, but we had an alternative - we thought if it didn't fit well in the kitchen, we would use it in the den to hold our TV. Since most of the full-featured kitchen carts run in the $300-$600, we thought if we could get this piece for under $300 we would be happy. Since the piece had some character, even including original square head nails, we thought it would blend well with the whole feel of our house.

My husband is the auction bidder, but I watched the action in real time from home on Proxibid,and we got the counter for $250!! It is now in our kitchen, and the longer it is there the more I wonder how we lived without it, I bought baskets and made extra storage on the shelves. and the top provides a great place to put groceries on the way to the fridge or pantry , and extra space for chopping (on a cutting board,of course) Our dilemma now? Originally we thought we would have a piece of granite cut to cover the top to protect the wood, however, the wood surface has such a beautiful patina that we are rethinking our decision.

So now - see what you think about our makeshift kitchen island. I would love to hear what you think, and whether you think we should cover the counter or not. Do you think it looks out of place in our traditional kitchen? Should we move it to the den for the television or does it look right at home?


lisaiscooking said…
I think it looks great, and I love the idea of re-using a piece of furniture like this. What about getting a piece of glass cut and sanded to fit the top? Then, you would see through to the wood finish.
Trish said…
Oh no...leave it in the kitchen...don't move it! The kitchen should be innovative and full of 'loved' furniture...especially when we spend so much time in it. Hi Deborah...just popped over from Kalyn's blog. Nice blog you have here...I can relate a bit to your hand in the kitchen and the my case, the other is managing major development projects and working with contractors/developers.
Deborah Dowd said…
Lisaiscooking-I love that it has a history, too! we thought about glass but the top has a bow in the middle, so I don't think we could do glass! What a shame!

Trish-Thanks for all the kind words and I hope you will be a regular! Sounds like you have a really hectic life as well! I find that cooking is a great way to relax.
Cynthia said…
If you need somewhere to prep baking stuff like pastry etc, I'd say cover it. Actually, I'd say go ahead and cover it because the whole idea was to use the counter top right? Only cover the top though, I like the character of the piece.
Sid Khullar said…
I've always wanted one too. Pity my kitchen just isn't big enough!
Anonymous said…
Dear Deborah!
Greetings from Shizuoka, Japan!
Thank you so much for your kind comments!
This is certainly a very clever use of an antique!
I noticed you are a Leo like my Da (I'm Virgo! LOL)
Make sure to buzz me when you post something new!
How exciting! I have always wanted an island too, and I think that a movable one is great! As for the beautiful surface of your island, I would get a removable cutting board cover, so that you don't damage the island, and can remove it when you want to show the surface.
CouponAlbum said…
Fabulous!! Love your beautiful kitchen furniture!! Absolutely useful and essential thing for every kitchen!!
Deborah Dowd said…
Cynthia-We have been using flexible cutting boards on it thus far but are still exploring options!

Sid-I wasn't sure it would fit either, but it works great!!

ShizuokaGourmet- Glad you like the island, and thrilled to have something in common with your Da!

Passionate Eater- Great idea! I think that might work!

CouponAlbum- We are really enjoying using it and looking at it!!
stock-in-sin said…
i like classic furniture...though it not suit my house decoration...anyway thanks for posting this article =)
Helen said…
Brilliant idea! I could do with an island too, will certainly look into getting a similar kind of counter for my kitchen too.

Maybe a granite or marble top would make it more practical but it looks so rustic and beautiful I'd be inclined to leave it as is.

Love your blog btw :)
Deborah Dowd said…
Stock in Sin- Almost everything in our house is antique, collected piece by piece.

Helen- I am a big believer in auctions. Our furnishings are worth probably three times what we have paid for them!
James said…
It looks great, and your idea also great to choose kitchen.
goldy said…
very innovative idea everyone must try this
Anonymous said…
Put a tempered glass top w/ beveled edges on it, letting the top's patina show. The tempered glass would be strong like that used for shower enclosures. Beautiful piece...I'm currently looking for something similar to serve as an island.
I like the spacious double shelf.

Would consider giving it a new coat of paint though so that it matches your kitchen color scheme.