Butcher Block Kitchen Islands
Butcher block, a naturally beautiful and warm-toned material, is a popular kitchen island countertop. Many butcher block finishes and grains allow cooks to chop and prepare meals directly on the countertop surface.
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With its long, slim top and lower shelf, the table could quickly be turned into a kitchen workstation one that wouldn't take up much space. This makeover didn't require major construction skills, just some savvy shopping for a new surface for the top, hardware, casters and paint. (Cost: $265) See how they did it with this step-by-step guide.
To make it a functional food prep space, it needed a new top. This one had 1/2 inch-thick polyethylene (a common material for cutting boards) cut to the dimensions of the console's top ($66 for a 48-inch-by-16-inch) piece, cuttingboardcompany.com). You can also try butcher block, granite or marble, but they cost more.
On one end of the table, a wall pocket ($20, www.containerstore.com) was screwed into the apron of the table. The pocket is great for holding cookbooks, magazines or a cookbook stand.
As with other countertop surfaces, butcher block kitchen islands require some maintenance. Sealant needs to be applied at least once a year, spills should be cleaned up promptly and the surface should be cleaned daily.
Even better, butcher block surfaces can be professionally sealed to prevent scratches (occasional nicks may be sanded out by the homeowner or a professional), though many prefer this surface precisely for its worn-looking sensibilities.
While most commonly found in traditional or country-style kitchens, butcher block kitchen islands might also provide an interesting visual counterpart to modern kitchens, warming up natural stone counters, floors or backsplashes such as marble, limestone or soapstone.
Butcher block is available in a variety of species, grains and thicknesses; like any other countertop surfaces, it can be cut to your specifications. But don't overlook some great ready-made options, from big-box retailers to area chef's warehouse resources.