An Island Getaway You're Sure To Love!

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How to: Update Your Kitchen Island


If you are lucky enough to have a kitchen island, chances are you use it just about every day for cooking, seating or storage. They are fantastic for giving a large kitchen even more much-valued counter space. But, what if your kitchen island is, well, less than idyllic?

That was the case with Ahdee, our Jane-in-training. Her island provided plenty of extra space, and with a built-in stove top, a place to cook. However, the dated island actually aged her kitchen. Moreover, the stove top was nearing the end of its life. All signs pointed to a much-needed upgrade!

We replaced Ahdee's countertop with a beautiful stone slab and installed a brand new stove. The "new" island not only updated the look of the entire kitchen, it also made it possible for Ahdee's family members or guests to sit comfortably around it.

Upgrading just a few things or making incremental adjustments to your kitchen can be just enough to tie you over until you are ready to gut the whole room (or move on to the next smaller project). The few changes we made to Ahdee's kitchen were all that was needed to help bring Ahdee's kitchen into the new millennium without spending a fortune!

Project Steps

Note: For this project the first thing we're assuming is that you may need to demolish the existing island countertop. Remember to take precaution to protect your cabinets below as you'll be restoring these later.

Step 1

The first step of any demolition project is always protection. Since you are going to make dust fly, you want to remove all breakable objects and cover up the surrounding area. We placed sticky plastic sheeting on the cabinets so that we wouldn't have to dust everything later! Remember to protect your floor accordingly, too. We used both plastic and cloth dropcloths and secured it with blue painter's tape. If you are demolishing something in the kitchen, remember to cover your appliances as you don't want dust to seep into them.

Step 2

The second step of any demolition project is always protection of yourself! Before you get cracking, you want to outfit accordingly. Wear protective eyewear, gloves and a dust mask. If necessary, wear steel-toed boots or any other safety gear you can think of. You don't want to become a statistic!

Jane Tip: Demolition can expose you to many harmful elements, especially in older homes. Don't let anyone who isn't fully decked out in safety gear into the room and try to keep the air circulating by opening windows.

Step 3

island3Time for some fun! We took 16 ounce hammers to Ahdee's tile countertop and used chisels to get out the stubborn bits. Remember eye protection is vital here as those pieces of tile do fly!

Jane Tip: Clean up as you go along. This keeps your workspace cleaner and safer.

Step 4

island4Ahdee's island countertop was set in metal with particle board underneath. Luckily, we were able to wiggle it loose with the help of a pry bar. To our delight, the countertop came off in one large piece! You may need to use the pry bar a little more to pull up the larger pieces one by one. Use caution though! This is where you will start to encounter old nails and screws.

Step 5

Take accurate measurements of how large you want your new countertop to be. Make sure you can move freely around your kitchen. You don't want it to eat up too much of your space. Remember to take into account the space you'll need when doors from your refrigerator, oven, trash compactor or cabinets are completely open.

Step 6


Once you have your measurements, cut your paint-grade (3/4") plywood to size using a jigsaw and a circular saw. Because Ahdee wanted a countertop where people could gather, we extended the space outward so that the overhang could accommodate ample seating space. To achieve the rounded corners, we traced around the bottom of a 10-gallon bucket and then cut along the mark with the jigsaw

Step 7

Place the cut plywood on your topless island. Be very certain of its positioning! If it is backwards and you nail it in, you will have to pry it up and start all over.

Step 8


Once you are sure the plywood is in its right place, start to screw it into place using a drill and wood screws. After your first screw, double check your measurements. Once satisfied complete a couple around the island to secure it, then map out exactly where you want the other screws to go, figuring you want a screw roughly every six inches.

Step 9

We decided on using Caesar stone for Ahdee's countertop, but you can use any material that matches your décor requirements and budget. Most stone is sold by weight, but colors and highlight vary from piece to piece, so make sure you have a good look around.

Stone is very fickle and hard to work with, so unless you know what you're doing, be sure to have your local home improvement center cut the stone for you. We had ours cut to size and also had a hole cut in the stone to accommodate the stovetop. If you are working alone or with just a few people, have any heavy materials delivered and mounted onto the island. You don't want any injuries!

Step 10


Secure the stone to the plywood using construction-grade adhesive. Be careful! This stuff is extremely sticky so don't get any of it on you! Place half-dollar sized dollops around the plywood far enough in so that the glue doesn't gush out once you have placed the stone on top. Alternate the placement of the glue around the plywood to ensure that it is being secured all the way around.

Step 11


Once the stone was firmly in place, we cut the hole for the stove in the plywood underlay. Well actually our stone layers took it upon themselves to do this for us! Hey, free labor? We'll take it! Keep in mind that although the stone gave a good marking point, be sure not to damage the edges of the stone with the saw.

Step 12


After the hole was cut, in went the stove! This part of the project was pretty easy as the stove had clamps to secure it to the island. No adhesive necessary!

Again, when it comes to dealing with electric or gas, we'd recommend having a professional help you install the stove. You will want to make sure all of the wiring is hooked up correctly. If it's a new stove, you may be able to guarantee delivery and installation in the sale price.


Paradise Island

After the countertop was down and the stove was in working order, Ahdee's kitchen took on a new life of its own. This rehab updated her space and also gave her more room to let guests and family members converge in the kitchen.

If you are in the market for a new kitchen this year, try taking it one step at a time. Unless your space is completely unmanageable and/or an eyesore, it may be worth your while to tackle the parts of the kitchen that really drive you crazy first. With smaller, less daunting projects out of the way, you will build your do-it-yourself confidence and improve your home one project and one step at a time.

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