Kitchen Island Update

This is how it looks now:
How to add a microwave to kitchen island

 And this is the before:

It was a pretty small island: a 24" x 42" builders grade base cabinet. My first problem how to place a microwave inside without wasting too much space (storage space is scarce).  The best place I could think of was on the side of it.  We had to get a small microwave that could fit in that space.
Here is the picture of the opening created:
At the beginning I thought I had to sacrifice a drawer in order to incorporate the microwave but after taking some measurements I decided to switch one of the drawers from the top to the bottom of the cabinet instead, below the microwave. 
A shelf was created to support the microwave.  Also, a division (1/4” plywood piece), was placed in the middle of the whole island cabinet. 
We got a GE: JES 1384SF Microwave Oven because of the dimensions and because we thought it would be easier to open and close with a handle instead of a push button.
Having the microwave and the space where it was supposed to go, we only needed a trim kit to integrate it nicely to the island.  

My online search didn't give me too many results. I saw many makeovers but usually they don’t tell where to get those items, and you cannot find them at your local home center!  So, my only find was this company:  Micro-Trim Inc., (if you know of somebody else, please let us know!). You need to have the measurements of where you intend to place it, model number, and some pictures. 

That part of the problem was finished!  and since everything is already done, here are the final pictures:

I wanted to make the island a little bit larger, so the solution for the other side was to add a bookcase. I tried to find a small bookcase on Craiglist but with no luck because of the dimensions.   Little by little it got to my mind that the only way to get it the way I wanted it was by building it myself.  I was scared! I hadn’t built anything like that before. :/
I needed this bookcase to be pretty sturdy but I didn't have many tools to work with.  So, in my search I found out about this little jig that creates strong wood joints:  The Kreg Jig.

I had to give it a try!  And for only $100 I got it.  I also got a sheet of plywood cut to my dimensions at the home center and, with a few other supplies I had at home I created a little shelf. It was awesome!! This Kreg Jig made me feel like I was a carpenter! It was soooo easy to use and the results... Outstanding.  Even though I just made something so simple like this:

Next step, we removed the electrical outlet keeping it in the inside of the island (for microwave use), and adding a new one (well, my dear husband worked on this), on the left side of the newly built bookcase for kitchen use.  The corner pieces and shoe molding from the Island were also removed.  Pieces of ¼” plywood were place all around except on the doors side.   The bookshelf was attached to the island making sure the openings for the electrical were already done. 
a playwood shelf is added to one end of a kitchen island.

I wanted to give it a custom look, trying to create panels.  With that in mind, pieces of ½” plywood were placed in the front and left side of the bookshelf; crating “recessed panels” that later on were finished with trim around.

Finally, a front frame (again using the Kreg jig), was attached to the bookshelf, the baseboard was also attached all around the island, and a piece of wood to enclose the microwave in its place.   Last, all the gaps and nail holes were caulked and then sanded.

All this stayed quite the same for a very long time waiting for paint and a counter-top while I worked on other parts of the kitchen.
Again, here is how it looked after the initial makeover when it was painted BM-Tudor Brown satin finish.

a shelf displaying white dishes in kitchen island transforation

After living with the brown island for almost five years, I was ready to give it a new look. Check the kitchen island newest makeover right HERE.
how to add beadboard and corbels to kitchen island

Next thing to tackle: The Refrigerator Enclosure.

You can also click on the next links for:

Building a Range Hood
how to paint the cabinets.
Install a marble backsplash.
Add moldings to your kitchen cabinets 
Closing the space above the kitchen cabinets
Tips about installing recessed lights
Final kitchen reveal
Kitchen cost breakdown
1 ½ Year Later How the Kitchen is Holding up
Build-in Plate Rack
Pull Out Shelves in Pantry
LG Appliances Review and Complain

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  1. You have done an incredible job , bravo

  2. Looks fantastic! This is just the direction I wanted to go. Thanks for mapping it out and giving such great instructions. The reveal of your kitchen is just perfection and budget friendly. Enjoy and thanks for sharing!!

  3. I am so do you like having the microwave so low?

    1. For me it works fine! My kids love it there! But if I were taller than what I am, it probably wouln't be such a good idea! I don use it that much! If you do, I think is better to have higher than that!

    2. Thank you for the reply...I am 5'8" and my hubs is 6'2" and we use it several times a day. I'm guessing it may not work so low for us but I LOVE how you utilized space by putting it in the island. Excellent idea! Overall, I am blown away that you did this yourselves and for only $!

  4. Hi Cristina,

    Great minds think alike! I was just telling hubs that I want to add a bookcase to our kitchen island which is the same length as what you started with.

    I just found your blog through My Uncommon Slice. So glad to see all your good work.

    We're just getting ready to start painting our cabinets and doing a kitchen makeover on a next-to-nothing budget. We will have to bite the bullet and do one thing at a time and save up for the next. The first thing for us is painting the cabinets because they're the most offensive to us.

    Thanks so much for sharing!!


  5. Love it! Your kitchen is inspiration for my kitchen.....I just finished extending the cabinets to the ceiling! I need to get rid of my over-the- cooktop microwave...thinking about the island but I don't have a power source there. Did you already have a power source in your island or did you have to have one installed? Thanks much!

    1. Thanks for your comment, Chris! I'm happy you're DIY! Answering your question, yes I already had an outlet on the outside right there where we built the shelf, it was moved to the side and, we put another one inside the Island for the microwave. Do you have a basement underneath? that would be the easiest way to run the cables! Electricity was one of the issues that delayed our work the most (we installed can lights), The person who help us the most with this was the Master Electrician at our closest Home Center!

    2. Thanks for your reply Cristina! I do have a basement and could run electrical to the island, but first I need to rule out a wall mount into an existing cabinet where there is electrical...that might be the best solution. I can't tell you how much I love your kitchen has a very similar layout so I hope it turns out as nice as yours! I have been showing everyone your kitchen photos and they all love, love, love it!

  6. New follower, LOVE your blog! I am a newbie blogger, follow if you like!

  7. This is all very new to me and this article really opened my eyes.Thanks for sharing with us your wisdom.
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  8. hi! i saw your blog at diy show off and i am now your new follower..come follow me back too!

    we just moved to a plain builder's house first quarter of this year, so there's a lot that i want to do with my home right now...and i am going to do it one at a time...

    i have been looking around as to how to add a bookcase to an island and this post is perfect!


  9. Wow! I'm impressed. I'm scared of power tools and carpentry work. What a gorgeous kitchen! You did a great job. I'm going to follow you...we have a kitchen makeover on a budget coming up, so thank you for the inspiration! :)

  10. May I ask what the trim kit for the mic cost? I'm just wondering if it's better to buy a built-in mic with the trim already there.

  11. What color paint did u use on island? Semi gloss.

  12. Shirley t, I used BM-Tudor brown and yes, semi-gloss finish.

  13. Your island looks AMAZING! I definitely want to do this when we're not renting anymore. Thanks for sharing:)
    --Sara @

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