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Kitchen Island Update

Well my friends, it's finally time to bring change to this honey oak kitchen that has served us so well.

I loved it the way it was for ten years, but it's time to say goodbye to all that red oak.

Let's start this kitchen makeover right here in the center, by transforming that kitchen island!

This cabinet is what the builder gave us as a kitchen island and I know that you agree with me on how pathetic this is.

They couldn't find a better place for that outlet. 🙄

a simple cabinet called kitchen island
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  • Add a 2-shelf bookcase on one end of the island.
  • Add board & batten to make it more stylish.
  • Install the microwave on the other end.
  • Paint it.
  • Give it a new countertop.


This's a small kitchen island, a 42" x 24" builder's grade base cabinet. I needed more storage and that's the main reason for making it bigger.

At first, I tried to find or better yet, buy a shelf/bookcase that I could fit in here at the end of the island. 

NOPE. I couldn't find it. 

After wasting a good amount of time, I decided to build it myself. 
I hadn’t built anything like that before. So, of course, I was scared. 

I needed this bookcase to be very 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 wooden joints:  The Kreg Jig.
Kreg Jig |
Buying the Kreg Jig was the best decision I ever made! 
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 built 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 as this:

The next step was to move the electrical outlet. It was re-installed inside of the island (for microwave use), but one more outlet was added 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 placed all around the main cabinet, except on the side of the doors. 
The bookshelf was attached to the island making sure the openings for the electrical were already done.
kitchen island makeover


No more plain Jane! 

I wanted to give my kitchen island a custom look and it was easily done with board and batten.
how to add a bookcase to kitchen island

The board and batten are those extra pieces of 1/2" plywood added on the front of the island and on the left side of the bookcase.

Those extra pieces of plywood created "recessed panels" that later on were finished with trim around.

These are the dimensions I used for the board and batten:
give style to the kitchen island by installing b&B

A chunky baseboard was also installed all around the island. - Oh, I had to live with only half the counter for a few months. :D
kitchen island makeover - Cristina Garay

I also built and installed a face frame to finish up the bookcase. This was also done using the Kreg Jig. I love that the screws are hidden. 
Check how nice my kitchen island was already looking!
how to add a shelf/bookcase to the kitchen island


At first, I thought I had to sacrifice a drawer to incorporate the microwave inside of the kitchen island, but after taking some measurements I decided to switch the placement of the drawers. 
The drawer was sent from the top to the bottom of the cabinet, below the microwave. 
Having a clear space on that top part of the island, I measured the microwave and transferred that dimension onto the side of the island. Then, I proceeded to cut it out. 
Once the space was opened, a shelf was created to support the microwave.  A 1/4" plywood division was also placed in the middle of the entire island cabinet. 
Microwave inside of kitchen island

The microwave we used was the GE: JES 1384SF because its dimensions were a perfect fit for this island. I also love the pull handle.
I had the microwave and the space where it was supposed to go. Now I needed a microwave trim kit to integrate them both nicely to the kitchen island.

I search high and low for microwave trim kits and my only option was this company:  Micro-Trim Inc.
Love working with them.
You need to have the measurements of where you intend to place the microwave, the model number, and some pictures. 
The two tracks you see in the picture below, are part of the kit.
Board and batten on kitchen island plus microwave inside it

All this kitchen island stayed quite the same for a very long time. 
I had to go work on other areas of the kitchen before painting and installing the countertop.

After everything was set and done, this is how this kitchen island looked at the end of this initial makeover:
how to install board & batten to kitchen island.

After closing holes and gaps and giving it a good amount of sanding, it was painted BM-Tudor Brown satin finish.
kitchen island makeover

Here you can better see the microwave area with the drawer switch from top to bottom of the cabinet.
how to install a microwave inside kitchen island

However, after living with the brown kitchen island for almost five years, I was ready to give it a new look. 
Kitchen island painted ASCP Duck Egg Blue

That new color is awesome!
It brightened up the entire space. 

But hey, let's continue with this kitchen makeover!

Next project to be tackled: The Refrigerator Enclosure.


  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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