Custom Kitchen Islands

Make your kitchen space stand out with these unique custom kitchen island tips.
By: Caroline Shannon-Karasik

Just like a do-it-yourself craft, a custom-built kitchen island requires the know-how and a time investment, but the end result is a unique product. This, of course, also allows for a design that makes room-customizable features, including storage and counter space.

Sustainable Kitchen With Open Design

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Dim Beginnings

The main goal for homeowners Ryan Wiedemann and Joleen Borgerding was to make their kitchen feel open. The original kitchen was walled off from the rest of the living space, which deterred them from enjoying the pretty outdoor views from the living room. To open up the space they removed two walls as well as pocket doors, which separated the kitchen from the living space.

After: Opening Up the Space

"There was a big space along the wall that was underutilized," Ryan says. Shuffling the cabinets to a different layout allowed for more storage and created additional floor space. Ryan framed out a handy cleaning closet to the left of the refrigerator using pocket doors that formerly were used as an entrance to the old kitchen.

Salvaged Cabinets

The couple refinished the original cabinets. "There's a certain choice to reusing the cabinets," says Ryan. "They're functional, good cabinets and we thought there's no need to fill a landfill with them."

Rich Wood Textures

Ryan built additional cabinets with sustainable bamboo plywood and lined the hearth with local cedar planks. The dark lines between the planks is painted sheetrock. "I wanted to add some different textures and colors and add some depth to the wood-paneled hearth wall," he says.

Efficient Appliances

Energy-efficient appliances replaced the outdated refrigerator, dishwasher, sink and faucet, range and range hood.

Recycled Countertop Materials

The countertops are Cradle-certified Cosentino, which are made of 75 percent post-consumer materials with bits of glass, porcelain and mirrors.

Double-Duty Sink

Ryan and Joleen wanted an under-mounted sink to make it easy to clean the countertop. "We chose a double-bowl sink because we wanted to dry our hand-washed dishes below counter to free up countertop space and minimize the visual clutter in the kitchen," says Ryan.

Upcycled Backsplash

The backsplash behind the sink is a leftover piece of the granite riverbed remnant.

Back to Natural

The central ceiling beam is the apex of the kitchen, living room and dining room. Ryan refinished the beam to its natural color by stripping, sanding and staining it. "That was one of the hardest projects in the remodel," he says.

Reclaimed Kitchen Bar

Ryan found the reclaimed wood slab from a local woodworking shop. He cut, sanded and installed it as a countertop for the kitchen bar.

Defining the Space

The couple contrasted the kitchen floors from the living space by using sustainable cork floors.

Light-Fixture Finds

The amber glass pendants in the kitchen are one-of-a-kind glass-blown lights that the couple bought at a tag sale from their neighbor.

Like any DIY project, it is important to first measure the space in which the kitchen island will be built. Allow room for moving about the kitchen, determine counter height and any storage spaces that you are seeking to include in the design. It is also important to consider how your countertop space will be used. Will you be using it primarily for food preparation? Do you plan on including a dining space with stools? Are you planning for a cooktop range? All of these factors will help you to decide what type of surface will work best for your kitchen island design.

If you are seeking a traditional island that has four sides and will placed at the center of the kitchen space, then it is fairly simple to purchase a set of cabinets that will fit in the designated space. Add drawer and cabinet handles, then attach the counter surface to the top of the cabinets and your project should be complete.

Many contemporary custom kitchen islands use repurposed items, like oversized shipping crates, bookshelves and desks. Consider using some of these materials in your design for a one-of-a-kind kitchen island that truly reflects your personal style.

Dreamy Kitchen Islands
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