Here’s how to transform your kitchen island from construction class with a few simple upgrades

If the kitchen is the heart of the home, then the kitchen island is the place where everyone gathers – to eat breakfast, finish homework, roll out cookie dough and entertain friends. However, many of the islands included in the new build feature cute cookie-cutter options that can tap into your interests. We asked a designer to share her easy, budget-friendly tips for adding more storage, seating, prep space, and style to customize your boring kitchen island into one with warmth and personality.

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Reimagine your island

To save on cost and construction, you’ll probably want your island to keep the same footprint, says designer Lucie Pitt of Versa Style Design. This is because most of the time your builder will have installed tile or hardwood floors around the island but not under it. one solution? Adding an extension to the existing island becomes an additional center where people can sit.

“Think of an 18-inch-deep inverted U, and it should be a little higher than the island, because you’re adding stool,” says Pete. “It could be an alternative material like wood, which looks really nice no matter what color the cabinets on the island are.”

Reconfigure the locker boxes

Pete likes to incorporate microwaves into the island, which saves space elsewhere in the kitchen.

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“If you have an electric appliance already set up on your island, you can take out one of the units and pop in a drawer-style top microwave. This makes room on the counter or allows more pantry space in the cupboard,” she explains.

“Make sure it’s top-loading because you want to avoid tipping over and bending when putting in or taking out the casserole.”

Expand the counter space

If you’re not crazy about the countertops that come with your island, you can replace them with granite or engineered stone. Also known as quartz, engineered stone is composed of crushed stone dust and resin, pigmented to look like marble or granite. It’s a durable, low-maintenance option that never needs to be sealed, plus it won’t leave stains or scratches. You can make your new island worktop larger, creating an overlap so you can add seating. Sculpted legs under the slouch add texture and interest.

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“Go with a complementary counter that’s very different from the one around the perimeter of your kitchen, like a butcher’s wood counter,” suggests Pete.

Be careful not to damage the cabinets when removing existing countertops; It is often taken apart and pasted, she adds.

Add storage

If you’re changing a tabletop or adding an extension, you can also build on an existing island by purchasing and attaching cabinet boxes.

Or, Pete suggests having a cabinet maker come in to modify one of the island’s cabinets, which has a shelf inside two deep drawers for utensils.

Roll on a fresh coat of paint

Don’t be afraid to make your kitchen island stand out from the surrounding cabinetry. Base painting is a great way to update a room.

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“Hire a professional painter with a spray gun to change the color,” advises Pete, noting that with white kitchens being standard in many newer buildings, there are plenty of options for creating a fun look with an accent color.

“Try a powder robin’s egg blue, or do the island in a nice wood core, then add the same wood with a shelf by the sink or elsewhere to replicate this look.”

Replace the island cabinet doors

Another way to customize your kitchen island is to renovate—preserving the structure and changing the doors and drawer faces.

“Many companies sell replacement doors in standard sizes,” says Pete. “You can add rich walnut or rustic barnwood to the island and paint the body of the island a dark charcoal gray.”

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An island can be a space-saving option for a wine fridge. Image via Versa Style Design

Switch devices

Changing the knobs and pulls on your kitchen island is an inexpensive way to make a big impact. Choose from polished brass, brass, or oil rubbed bronze to add some sparkle. And don’t worry about your new hardware not matching the cabinet knobs; It’s fun to mix finishes for an eclectic look.

“You can add a matching towel bar at the end of the island near the sink and hang some cute oven mitts and pretty tea towels in there,” says Pete.

Dress things up

If your island looks like a plain flat box, there are plenty of ways to add texture and interest. Glue the trim to the bottom of the counter overhang – you can often find inexpensive trim at architecture salvage stores or online. Pete suggests treating the back of the island—the outward-facing part of the kitchen—to a transformation by adding beadboard or trim.

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“Nobody has a closed kitchen anymore in new homes and apartments, and the front facing the living room or dining room is often pretty boring,” she says. “You can do some really cool molding designs, whether it’s geometric shapes, vertical slats, or planks and planks, so it’s visually interesting. Fluted wood, which has grooves, is a pretty classic trend.”

Brighten things up with lighting

Most of the time, builders connect a kitchen with some ceiling recessed lights. Create a charming focal point by hanging large pendants or light fixtures above your island.

“You can have beautiful upturned bowls—they can be white or black with a gold interior—or put a huge rattan light, or a couple of pendants,” says Pete. “This will completely transform the kitchen, and it will provide task lighting, too.”

Go for the big show off

If your island is too small and sprucing up your family’s needs, Pete says, consider replacing everything.

You can take apart one island and build another. It will cost a few thousand dollars, but some people are willing to put that money in. Look at anything you do with your kitchen not as an expense, but as an investment.”

This story was created by The content worksPostmedia’s commercial content division.

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