Fabulous Kitchen Island Makeover: Part One


Hey Guys this is Justin, I wanna tell you about a project I worked on recently.  I have a  friend named Nate, a brother from another mother, as we like to joke.  He and I have been friends literally since we were like 5 months old.   And our friendship is still hanging in there!  And Luckily Cassity is good friends with Nate’s wife Brianne so we always have fun hanging out with them!  (bonus they have 4 girls, so our 2 girls are on cloud nine when we hang out….)

A while back, when Cass and I were hanging out at their house (now that we are back in my home state) and he asked us about updating their kitchen island.  We thought that this would be a good opportunity to not only help a good friend but to also show y’all a great kitchen island makeover project!  Win/Win!  And since it was on Nate’s dollar, we got a great project without the extra budget.  (Thanks Nate!, and yes you’re welcome for the 20+ hours of free labor!)

Nate is handy guy, but he’s never tried this type of  project.  So, this was a great way for him to learn.  (and since I have all the tools, he gets the benefit of not having to buy random tools to try out a project).  We worked it out so that I designed the island if he could help me build it, then he would finish it up by patching and paint etc.

So here is a sneak peek of the finished project.


Please pin it for Future Reference!

Kitchen Island Updated Board and Batten

Below are a couple of before pictures of the kitchen island.  One of the biggest issues was the granite hanging over and edge without any thing to hold it up.  It seemed stable and anchored in well, but visually it was not working.  It was unfinished and needed an update.

1-black board and batten kitchen island makeover before-2 2-black board and batten kitchen island makeover before-2

When we first visited Nate at his new house, we were able to come and visit (while we still lived in Texas)  They asked what we would do with the kitchen island and we suggested painting it black to match a little better with the black appliances and dark granite.   So they tested it out with a  bit of eggshell black, to see if they liked it black and and they did!

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-2-2

I started out with a  few quick sketches of the island.   This is a quick sketch of the board and batten molding concept I did when we where looking at it for the first time.  Cassity wanted to add X patterns in the design like our farmhouse Dutch door plans.  We really wanted to do the x’s for them, but they didn’t really love it.  We will have to save it for another project.

Kitchen island sketch

We also had to figure out how the corbels would look.   Here are some of my initial corbel sketches.  These are side profiles of what the corbels could look like under the counter top.  I wanted to keep it simple and not get crazy with too much detail.  After looking at many options with the 3d model, option c looked like the best one for the space.

Option A Option B Option C
corbel option a corbel option b corbel option c

 Because I try to use any excuse to build 3d building models, here is a Sketchup model that I put together to get exact dimensions of the kitchen island.  This really helped me to visualize the final design and get an accurate cost estimate for all the materials needed.  In this short video, it shows the basic steps of the installation.

Fabulous Kitchen Island Makeover!

Materials Used

 Base Molding (to match existing molding)  1×4 MDF or pine boards
 1×6 MDF boards  1×8 MDF boards (for wrapping the corners)
 Bead Board Paneling  Wood filler
 White and/or Black Caulk   Gallon of eggshell black paint
 18 gauge brad nails for nail gun.

Tools used

Table saw Miter saw
Multi tool saw (for cutting and sanding) Nail Gun
Drill Sanding Block
Caulking Gun

I started off by nailing on the bead board.  First, I measure where the edges of the vertical corner boards will be and center the bead board grooves in that space.  It looks best when this is done right.  And these little details, make a difference!

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-3-2

Once the bead board panels were in place,  it was time to install the 1×4 boards to begin the board and batten installation.  We started with the corner boards of the middle section.  These corners are 22.5 degree corners, half of 45.  The tablesaw was the best tool for the mitered edge on these corners.  The vertical boards will go the entire length of the space from top to bottom on the corners only.  The reason for this, is they are sort of like columns that the corbels will be attached to later.

Next we nailed on the horizontal boards on top and bottom, in-between the corners. Once those were in place, we nailed in the other vertical dividers, and spaced them evenly.  You will notice in eh bottom image that the bottom of the board and batten is not on the ground, that is because it looks SO much nicer when there is a base molding that wraps the bottom, so we saved the space for that molding to wrap the entire bottom, but it layers on top, so it will be installed later.

**One little detail that we have learned from installing board and batten several times in the last 10 years, (the first time we tried it was way back in 2002…) is that by rounding off the butted edges, to mimic the look of the factory finished edge, it looks so clean when you are done.    There is also a lot less filling and sanding, and then regretting it when the cracks start to show later on!  The rounded edges gives it a nice look, without having to patch the butted edges with wood filler and try to hide the seam.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-4-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-5-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-6-2

The 90 degree corner pieces, at the very end were a little bit tricky.  I wanted to wrap the molding around the corner to cover the old corner up entirely.

First, I had to remove a small cove molding on the back side of the cabinet.  Once the space was clear I was able to measure it all an make the cuts for the counter profile.  I had to cut out a profile that would fit around and lower counter top and an existing back splash.  Once the profile was drawn out an measured I used the drill, table saw and multi-tool to get it shaped just right.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-7-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-8-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-9-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-10-2

 After the side was shaped around the lower counter top, I nailed the corners together for a nice square fit.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-11-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-12-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-13-2

It was really exciting to see the corners come together and finish off a lot of the raw edges.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-14-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-15-2

Here are a couple of progress shots of how the board and batten is starting to look.   After the corners were on the island we filled in the other portions of the board and batten.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-16-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-17-2

With some of the left over MDF pieces, we filled in the bottom.  This gave us a great place to nail in the bottom of the base molding.  In this picture you can see that the bottom horizontal board is a 1×6 and not a 1×4.  That is because it will be partially covered with a base molding but the exposed dimension, that you will be able to see will be the same as the 1×4’s above when the base molding is attached.black board and batten kitchen island makeover-18-2

After we had all the bottom pieces cut out we could start nailing them in place.black board and batten kitchen island makeover-20-2

Here is another progress shot of the layering of moldings around the corners.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-19-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-24-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-21-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-22-2

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-25-2

Here is a shot of the island with all of the molding in place.black board and batten kitchen island makeover-26-2

Now it is time to patch the nail holes and sand them smooth, in preparation for the paint job.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-27-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-28-2

We always like to take the time to caulk the gaps between the 1×4’s and the beadboard.  This gives it a nice professional clean look after it is painted.  Cassity is the pro at this.  (we have a  great caulking tutorial here)

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-29-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-30-2

 After Nate painted the kitchen island black, he caulked the gaps next to the cabinets and granite with black caulk to give it a nice finished look.  Without there being any weird paint lines!

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-31c-2 black board and batten kitchen island makeover-30b-2

Now that the bead board and all the moldings are installed, I waned to show you one last time the fabulous kitchen island makeover  before we added the molding to it.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-2-2

Now here is this kitchen island makeover almost completely finished,  in all its glory with the molding and a fresh paint job.

black board and batten kitchen island makeover-31d-1-2

Next post we will talk about what corbels we decided to go with and how we installed them!!

Meet the Author: Justin

Check back soon to learn more about this author. Read More


  1. says

    LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this. (Did I say I LOVE this?) It really is a fabulous redo. Thanks so much for sharing this and showing us what can be done with an outdated piece. Great inspiration. Do your friends have any plans to paint the kitchen cabinets? Just curious.

  2. Jess says

    Wow! This looks incredible! Quality work… Can you tell us the name and brand of gray paint you used? I love the color.

  3. Brianne says

    Also posted on the finished project, but had to comment here too. First of all, I have to point out that Justin and Cass’ male assistant is pretty smokin’ hot … I think I’ll keep him!! :)

    But, as for the “real” part of this post, I’ll tell you that this is OUR island. We can’t get enough of it. The remodel was exactly what we wanted and we couldn’t have asked for better craftsmanship or better friends! Thank you for the dozens of hours that went into this change! It MAKES the room!

    Just from my perspective, I didn’t want to make the kitchen and adjoining family room feel too “country”. I love the idea of the X’s, but not for the more modern, sleek look to these rooms that we are eventually going to capture! The idea was great and would work really well in a lot of situations, it just wasn’t what I had in mind for this room.

    I was the most hesitant to go black with the island. I was afraid it would turn the whole room into a black hole (you know, seem really dark?) I was the one that insisted on the “trial” of painting to see what I thought. We actually were able to get the “test” color for free when there was a paint promotion at a local hardware store, so I didn’t see any harm in giving it a try. What can I say? I was wrong and black is DEFINITELY, without a doubt, the right color for this island. Strangely enough, it also brings out the more favorable dark tones in the granite (I dislike the pink undertones!), so it makes even the granite look better!

    Can’t say enough about how much we appreciate the new look and all the time and labor on our behalf …

    This island is now a center point of my kitchen and I get numerous compliments on it from people entering our home!

    • says

      Thank you for letting us know what you think, especially since you are the one living with it! We need to have you guys come over soon, Etta asks to hang out with you pretty much daily!


  4. Ramona says

    Really great job!!! You guys make a good team. Cute kids too..I had a question!! : ) I am fascinated by the paint portion. I put up bead board and corbels. I’m done and our kitchen looks much nicer. My husband was impressed. Expanding and dressing up an island makes all the difference! We got an awesome new slab of granite and I’m hanging new light fixtures from Amazon, but I haven’t painted the wood yet. I was on the fence about a dark brown or a true black. I saw your island and guess what I LOVE your choice of black!! Please so i can finish my job..what was the actual color and paint you used? Was it oil or water/latex paint? Did you prime? How did you apply it so smooth?? What did you use to apply the paint? I bet a lot of people would love to know because painting wood is tough..I think..any way. Thank you Ramona

    • says


      We got Home Depot Paint to match Martha Stewart Silhouette in Satin. (they don’t carry the line anymore but it is basically just straight black). No primer, but of course you could always prime if you want to. To keep the paint smooth I recommend brushing a small section and then rolling over with a 4″ foam roller. Don’t buy the foam rollers that have plastic ends, be sure that the end is all foam, it will help with corners and edges etc.

      They did not paint the cabinets, just the beadboard wall, so they used regular water based paint. but if you are planning on painting the cabinets, I would definitely consult a painting expert to make sure you get the right kind of paint and take all necessary steps.

  5. connie says

    love the corbel on the island. would like to do something like that on my porch…. do you have a pattern?

  6. says

    Just wanted to say thanks for the great tutorial! I used this to guide my husband and father on a similar project and it definitely helped speed up the process! Thanks again!

  7. Heather M says

    This is awesome! I really want to do something like this to my own kitchen island. I plan on painting my cabinets white. In this case, with a similar island construct, would you paint the cabinets white like the others? Or would you paint them the same color as the back of the island? I want to do a dark oyster gray (where you have done black)! Also, when you say you rounded the corners of the board & batten, do you mean every single edge? Have any close up pics of that?
    Great job!

    • says

      Heather, to answer your qwestion about sanding the edges, I sanded all the outside edges and the edges that butt up against other boards. I don’t have a close up picture, but it was rounded to match the factory edge of the board when we bought it at the store. It was sanded to about 1/8″ of an inch radius.

  8. Paul says

    Looks so good, we decided to copy the look! Thanks for the step by step instructions. Turned out great!

    • says

      Robert, I used the larger wood to wrap the corners that connect were next to the cabinets. Glad you liked it and are going to build it. Let me know how it turns out.

  9. Rebecca says

    Thanks for the inspiration. We have been living with a half way built island for months and I have been looking (for some time now) for ideas on how to finish. We decided on breadboard and I knew I wanted framed panels so when I came across this it was amazing. Thanks for sharing your skills with the world.

  10. says

    Thanks for sharing all this info we just bought a ranch/farm style house in TX and have an island/bar exactly like the before pics. This design fits perfectly with the style of the house so with your help I’ve talked my husband into taking on the project, we bought the materials last night! My question is what size corbels did you use and where did you buy them?

    • says

      Christa, I am so glade you like that look and you are going to install it. About the corbels, I talk about them in part two that you can read about here. Thanks!

  11. Kristina says

    I saw this pin and thought it was my kitchen. Once I scrolled through all the pictures I realized quickly it wasn’t but very close. Tile, cabinets, wall color, island very similar but there is no X’s and previous owner didn’t paint the cabinets either. If I wasn’t renting I would have painted them the second day I moved in

    • says

      You need to measure your island, and calculate from those measurements. I can’t give you an exact measurement of wood length because each and every island is different dimensions, so it truly wouldn’t help.

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