Desk Repurposed To Kitchen Island

Since we moved into this house in July of 2009 I have really wanted a kitchen island, but the ones I found were either ridiculously expensive, too small for our space, or really ugly tablesonwheels type contraptions. I knew I wanted something big-ish, because we have a relatively large area to fill, and I knew I didn’t want the regular cabinet-look that so many islands have. 

I had a little time off after the holidays and when I ran across these two blogs featuring a couple ladies who had made their own islands – My Repurposed Life & My Cottage Charm – I was inspired to embark on a DIY Kitchen Island Project (despite my complete lack of home improvement tools and/or knowledge). 

It basically begged for my love.

My skeptical wonderful husband thought I had lost my mind when I called him from Goodwill and told him I had just bought this desk and would he come pick it up for me. He begrudgingly agreed in attempts not to stifle my creativity (I have to admit, I was pretty sure I had gone insane as well….did I mention we don’t even own an electric drill at this point??….yah….can you see how this might not turn out so fabulously?). 

I made a trip to Lowe’s and got the items I needed to start my project, while I was there I decided to buy myself a random orbital sander and the hubby decided to buy an electric drill, this ended up being a necessity (uh, duh?!).

I took all the drawers out and assessed the paint situation, which appeared to be a whole-fricken-lot of thick, brown paint slopped onto a coat of white and a coat of primer. This called for more serious measures than my random orbital sander.

This stuff smelled RANK and it looked very similar to a substance I had to gather in saran wrap and do cell counts on in the allergy clinic I used to work at (yes, I made people blow their disgusting snot into a piece of plastic wrap and put it under microscopes to assess – I actually think it’s pretty cool, stop judging me).

          This is where, he later told me, my husband walked in the
          garage and decided the desk would either stay like this
          in the garage forever or end up looking horrid in our kitchen.

I finally got most of the paint off, sanded the areas that would show and painted everything with a coat of primer. 

I added an MDF board as the base and attached four wooden legs to get it to the height I wanted. 

This is where I stopped taking in-process pictures. Oops (and that is why I’m not a DIY blogger). Here’s a run-down of what I did:

-Nailed on primed & painted bead board panels to ends and back

-Added Corner Moulding to give cohesive look
-Gave everything one more coat of Valspar Antique White
-Stained a piece of solid pine with Minwax Golden Oak
-Coated the top with 3,000 coats of Minwax Polycrylic
-Fitted the top and screwed on (with help of wonderful husband)
-Replaced hardware on drawers
     This would be the back of the desk. 
Hooks from Hobby Lobby (1/2 Price!) to hold rolling pin.
There will be an oak towel rack here, but I want to paint it to match
the island and I haven’t gotten around to it. Use your imaginations.
Hope you still have your imagination hat on, friends. Remember when I mentioned our lack of all things tool-related? Well, that includes a saw. On the other side of the island I plan to add a shelf and cabinet door but, since it would take me approximately 12 years to use our hand saw to cut out my shelf, I am waiting until my dad can come down and help me.  Also, the area where I want a door has strange dimensions, so I’m going to see if I can recruit him to help me with that, too. He’s pretty awesome at that kind of stuff, so hopefully he won’t mind. 🙂

I had an absolute blast with this project and I can’t wait to do something else! Thanks so much to My Repurposed Life and My Cottage Charm for their inspiration and help!! 

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  1. Aba

    Oh wow, that was really impressive! Great job! I used to build sets for theater so I really miss working on large scale things like this. Unfortunately I live in an apartment so I don't really have any good space to work on a project like this, but someday!

    Also, I love your kitchen! So much space and so pretty!


  2. apotential

    And to think I was just impressed with myself for half-heartedly wiping down the sink today…

    That desk looked unuseable, but that kitchen island looks perfect and new, and you're now my hero.



    wow! I love your new island! Isn't it a great feeling to make something useful?
    you did a great job, thanks for linking to me.


  4. My Cottage Charm

    I am SO honored that my little ol' island inspired you to make your lovely work of art! 🙂 You did a phenominal job with that goodwill desk, it really looks great! 🙂
    I still LOVE my island and you're gonna love having that extra shelf and door when you get it on…it made a huge difference to me when I got mine on. Thanks for letting me know you posted, I appreciate it!
    Keep up the good work!



  5. medcouple

    I'm so inspired. It's such a beautiful piece. And to think it's custom-made, by you, makes it all the more special for you, I'm sure!


  6. T.D.

    Awesome Job!! What a perfect new addition for your kitchen! Good idea with the paint "remover goo" I probably should have broke down and used that too. It came out beautiful!


  7. The Hills

    Danielle, I found your comment on my last post and just wanted to say thank you. So sweet of you to say. It made me smile. And so funny that you found me through that blog award thing. It's gotta be fake…but I'm playing along too.. lol

    So I had to read through some of your cute blog. Love it! I really like when people post about the random stuff, and you rocked that DIY 🙂

    Anyway, I wish you well with med school and everything!



  8. Girl about Oslo

    Hi from Norway:)
    That looks really great:)

    Have a great day.



    This is an awesome project! It's incredible that you did such a great job with minimal tools! Your next tool needs to be a jigsaw. Pretty inexpensive and a whole lot easier than a hand saw! Have a great weekend!


  10. Pam

    Wow…fantastic facelift and new life given to that desk. Great job. Thanks for sharing.


  11. Kathryn1000

    Very inspiring!Good work.


  12. Sherryd

    Great job! It looks really nice!!


  13. Anonymous

    Love your idea – it looks great! About how much do you think you ended up spending on the project? Curious about how much you paid for the desk, board for top, etc.?


  14. Amanda

    wandered here from Samantha's Two Become One blog and i LOVE how your island turned out! She and I want to go antiquing in Plainview some weekend. (its like antique store mecca. seriously) You should join us.


  15. Liz

    Looks great! Can I ask, how did you get the top off without damaging the rest of it? I ask cause I have a half a hutch I want to transform in this way and hubby and one of his carpenter buddies says I’ll destroy the bottom of the hutch if I take off the top to put butcher block on…

    will take any thoughts ya got 😉 Thanks and again lookin good!


    1. Danielle Jones

      Hi Liz!

      Thanks so much for stopping by. We just took all the screws out and then used a hammer to reverse it off of the nails. It didn’t cause any damage at all, but I was prepared with some wood filler and screws for any small pieces that got damaged.

      Basically take out all the hardware you can then use a hammer to kind of coax it off it’s nails. If it’s screwed in and you try to hammer it off it will definitely do some damage. The desk we got was a very cheap Goodwill find and so I wasn’t really worried about damaging it. I’d definitely be a bit more wary of taking a hammer to an heirloom hutch or something of that nature. 🙂

      Let me know if you get the butcher block put on it! I’d love to see it! 🙂 We actually just used a piece of stained and cured pine since we were short on money. We put it on in a way that can be removed and replaced with butcher block at a later time if we want to change it. 🙂


  16. Jen

    This may be a stupid question but why did you strip the old paint layers off only to cover those same areas with bead board panel?


    1. Danielle Jones

      Not a stupid question at all!

      Initially I wasn’t planning to cover the whole thing in bead board, I just started out with a very rough plan to get the desk into a more natural state by stripping it.

      Looking back, I still would’ve stripped and sanded the insides where a chair used to go (because they aren’t covered in bead board with an open shelf it shows so stripping + sanding allowed the paint to lay evenly).

      I probably would’ve stripped the outsides lightly (purely because the paint on this desk was SO thick and I’m not sure the bead board would’ve laid down very level if I’d left it all on there).

      Without a doubt I would’ve completely ignored the top, which gave me the most grief of the whole project, since I ended up completely replacing it anyway. 🙂

      Live and learn. It was my first big repurposing project, so I wasn’t sure where exactly I was going to go with it.


  17. Jen

    I think I just answered my own question… because the paint wasn’t coming off successfully. The final product looks great!! I love the bead board.


    1. Danielle Jones

      Yup, the difficulty I had getting it to strip properly played a big role in using the bead board. However, I LOVE the look it gave – much more finished, so I’d probably use bead board again if I ever did another one. And thank you so much! It was fun and gets a TON of use in my kitchen. 🙂

      I also have some OCD tendencies and very few of my projects get completed without being stripped down to the bare wood. I hope I can forego this on future projects, because it sometimes frustrates me to no end and makes projects take forever, but it sure gives a much nicer finished look. In my opinion lol.

      I’m going to post a changing table I recently did sometime soon and I literally stripped that baby down to the bare wood – took FOREVER – but turned out very nice.


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