Update a Plain Kitchen Island or Peninsula with Planks and Corbels

Kitchen islands are one of my favorite projects to browse — so many shapes, so many styles, so many great features, and it’s pretty easy to build a freestanding island or update a builder-basic plain kitchen island. Our guest today gave her kitchen peninsula some great style and character to match the rest of her clean white coastal kitchen:

Add character to your kitchen island or peninsula by adding planks for shiplap texture and corbels for style. Easy DIY job that anyone can do! The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

This is such a good-looking but simple update. The planks add some very nice shiplap type texture, and the corbels prevent the “floating countertop” syndrome the sometimes happens (and sometimes drives some people crazy 😉 Read below for Krista’s tutorial (and to see more of her pretty kitchen!) and take a gander at some of these other kitchen island updates on your way: (click each photo to see the tutorial)

add beadboard panels and corbels


give it some inexpensive board and batten style

board and batten kitchen island makeover for under $20, featured on Remodelaholic
by The Serene Swede

use old fence boards to add some rustic style

reclaimed wood planked kitchen island, Frazzled Joy on Remodelaholic
by Frazzled Joy

build a concrete island

DIY Concrete Island
by Petite Modern Life

How to Update a Plain Island or Peninsula with Planks and Corbels
by Krista of The Happy Housie

Hello readers of Remodelaholic!

I’m Krista from The Happy Housie and I am so excited to be here today sharing an upgrade that we made to our kitchen during our recent renovation by adding some beautiful planking and corbels to the peninsula.

Update a plain kitchen island or peninsula in a weekend or less with this easy DIY planked technique and pretty corbels. Plus, a tip for installing corbels when your countertop is already in place.

As I said, I blog at The Happy Housie and I called my blog this because I think of myself as a “housie” (think foodie but for houses). I love all kinds of house related projects and pursuits from DIY to crafts, organizing, sewing, and upcycling old pieces I find at the thrift store. Our home is situated on a beautiful lake making summer, by far, our favourite season of the year; though the crisp, clear days of fall definitely come a close second. I recently shared our Fall Home Tour as well as our complete kitchen reveal and source guide. This kitchen renovation seemed to stretch on forever and ever and I am thrilled to have it finished. One of my favourite finishing details has to be the planking and corbels that we added to the peninsula, which is the project I am sharing with you today.

I still can’t quite get over what a difference this simple {and inexpensive} little detail made to the overall look of our kitchen – it truly took it from builder basic (and boring) to custom and fabulous. I have always dreamed of a white kitchen. I love the classic simplicity of white shaker cabinetry and white subway tile and knew I wanted white countertops as well. But once all of these had been installed the kitchen felt a little bit too white. Too shiny. And kind of boring.

Here is what we started out with…



I’m a huge fan of adding interest to a space with lots of colour and texture so I knew something had to be done to take our kitchen from white builder-basic to customized for us. We decided to add a pop of my favourite colour (watery aqua blue) to both the DIY hook fan that we had built as well as to the peninsula. First things first: it was time to add some planking. I love MDF planks: I had done them on a feature wall in our boys’ bedroom the previous year. It gives such a casual, beachy feel to a space and adds tons of texture to a blank wall (or peninsula).

To plank this baby out, we bought one 4×8 sheet of 1/4″ MDF and had it cut into 6″ strips. It worked perfectly with the length of the peninsula – so that we only needed the one sheet to clad the entire back and side. Woot woot! That came in at around $20 Canadian and is probably even less expensive in the US.

how to add interest to your kitchen island or peninsula with planks and corbels, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

We decided to begin our planking at the base of the peninsula. We made sure it was straight and level and then began by nailing it directly into the back of the cabinet using an air compressor nail gun. You could also glue it on and use a regular old hammer and nails. We opted to not glue in case, down the road, we change our mind about the look and want to remove it. Glue could make that a fairly messy process (and I am a little bit fickle…).

In the before pictures of the peninsula, above, you can see that the back of our peninsula actually has a sheet of plywood attached. This was perfect as it meant that the nails go directly into the plywood making the nailed on planks nice and tight and secure.

use pennies to evenly space planks to update a kitchen island, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

To keep the planks the correct distance apart we opted to use pennies in between them while nailing them up. I have seen people use a dime as well, which would give you a slightly smaller gap. It is really the tiny gaps between the planks that help create a feeling of texture in this application.

how to plank a kitchen island or peninsula, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

The whole planking thing actually goes super quickly…

plank style shiplap kitchen island update, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

We added planks to the side of the cabinet as well, and just cut down the lengths we had had cut at the hardware store using our mitre saw. Once all of the planks were installed we capped the corner off with a piece of corner trim.

use a piece of corner trim to hide plank ends on a kitchen island or wall for shiplap texture, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

For the other edges, we decided to balance the look of the corner trim by adding a matching flat piece of trim to the edge closest to the cabinets as well as to the edge closest to the far end of the peninsula.

how to cover the ends of a planked feature on a kitchen island or peninsula, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

Probably the longest part of this job was the paint prep: you need to fill in all the nail holes, then sand it smooth once dry. The MDF was treated to one coat of primer, followed by two coats of paint {the colour is called Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore}.

prepping a planked kitchen island for paint -- fill the holes and sand, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

Though the peninsula looked great already, we wanted to beef up the look even further. We decided to add some more interest and drama with these gorgeous corbels. I ordered them from Osborne Wood Products: they are the Boston Bar with Beaded Edge in paint grade (soft maple). [Remodelaholic note: you could also get fancy and make your own vintage-inspired curvy corbels here]

adding corbels to a kitchen island or peninsula breakfast bar, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

The installation of these was slightly tricky.

The hardware on the back of them is the type that would require you to slide the bracket over the screw and then slide it down into place. If we had been organized and planned ahead, we could have installed these prior to the countertops being installed.

But once that quartz was in place, there was no way to install them using the original hardware. So, back to the thinking-board. Instead; we decided to pre-drill with a drill press directly through the slimmest part of the corbel and then to drill it out slightly so that we would be able to countersink our screws…

how to install corbels under a kitchen counter without drilling into the countertop, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

After the pre-drilling, we figured out where exactly we wanted them placed, and installed the screws far enough in so that they would create a mark on the planks where the screws would go in.

how to install corbels on a kitchen island breakfast bar and hide the screws, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

This mark became our guide so that we knew where to predrill through the planking and into the plywood. The last thing we wanted was to split our MDF plank at this point in the process.

installing corbels under a kitchen island countertop, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

To ensure the corbels were firmly attached, we added some adhesive to the back and top of the corbels…

how to install corbels on a kitchen island, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

And then put them back into position and screwed them directly into the peninsula.

installing decorative corbels on a kitchen island tutorial, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

All finished!

installed kitchen island corbel, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

diy planked kitchen island with corbels and a tip for hiding the corbel screws, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

And after a little more painting…

kitchen island breakfast bar peninsula makeover with MDF planks and corbels, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

Quite a difference, I think…

gorgeous coastal kitchen island makeover, with painted aqua planked penisula or island and corbels, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

diy aqua blue planked shiplap kitchen peninsula island in a white coastal kitchen, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

white kitchen with aqua blue planked peninsula, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

diy planked blue aqua kitchen island in a white coastal kitchen, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic

beautiful kitchen with an easy island update - just add planks and corbels for some lovely coastal texture and style, The Happy Housie on @Remodelaholic


Time & Budget Breakdown:

This project took about about an hour for planking, another hour for installing the corbels, and then a couple of additional hours for filling/sanding/painting two coats of aqua blue. It was quite an easy project to complete, and while we used the nail gun you could easily do it yourself with just a hammer and nails and/or construction adhesive. The corbels were ordered from Osborne Wood Products and the paint colour is Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore.

Thanks again for having me over at Remodelaholic today! I’d love you to pop by and visit me at The Happy Housie: come on by and check out the rest of our completed Kitchen Renovation Reveal.

signature and quote

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Thank you for sharing with us, Krista! Your kitchen is lovely!

Remodelaholics — head over to The Happy Housie and take the home tour to see more of Krista’s kitchen, and more of that beautiful Wedgewood Gray on her DIY range hood (which sports matching corbels). 

The Happy Housie white kitchen and blue range hood with corbels

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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  1. Love it! I have a door on mine on the left side. There is a little storage nook. Any suggestions? Just plank over the door as well and make it functional?

  2. Love your ideas. Working on my island now. You gave me some great ideas. I am using General Finishes gel stain over golden oak. It is a great product . Just need to beef island up using your ideas. Thank you.

    1. The MDF was treated to one coat of primer, followed by two coats of paint {the colour is called Wedgewood Gray by Benjamin Moore}.

  3. This kitchen and island are so pretty! In a larger picture of the kitchen, it looks like the walls are also painted blue. Is the blue on the walls wedgewood gray?

    1. Hi Amy, isn’t it lovely! Krista did a great job. If you click over to The Happy Housie, Krista has all the details of her kitchen — there’s a link in her intro to the kitchen reveal/sources that will have the info you’re looking for.