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Budget Kitchen Island Makeover

As I mentioned in my last post I wanted to go into a little more detail on how I wallpapered, painted and then distressed our kitchen island.  I am going to guess that the total cost to change up our kitchen island was less than $6.oo.  I used paint colors that we had left over from other projects and less than half of a roll of paintable bead board wallpaper.  This is a great option if you have a kitchen island that doesn’t get a lot of abuse and needs a makeover – it looks pretty and the price is certainly right!  You can read all about my budget kitchen makeover here, but here is the skinny on the kitchen island itself.  A simple paint glaze I used added a great distressed finish to add a ton of character to our kitchen.

What to do with those ugly builder grade kitchen islands when you have little to no money to update your kitchen.  This was a question that I struggled with for the first couple years after we bought our new home.  We bought a home that is over twenty years old, and the kitchen island certainly showed it.  No amount of cleaning or scrubbing seemed to solve my problem.  The years of scuffs, scrapes, and damage were really dulling down our kitchen and they stood out like a soar thumb on our large white kitchen island.   As I showed you last week, we have made a few really cost effective updates to our kitchen that have completely salvaged what we already had for cheap.

One of the very first things that we did was pull up and move our kitchen island to face it a different direction.  We loved the change, but then the years of scuffs and scrapes on the island were in plain sight from anywhere in the house.  Like I explained before, there was no money in the budget for a new island, or a remodel, so I had to get really creative with a way to fix it for cheap.  One roll of paintable beadboard wallpaper was my solution  to disguising our ugly kitchen island and also add a great decorative finish that added character and interest in our kitchen.

The results were amazing and I am so pleased with how the distressed paint finish adds a rustic and interesting warmth to the space.  Before I tell you how I did this, remember one very important thing that I explained in my earlier post!

Just a little disclaimer for you in case you are thinking about doing this in your own home.  Remember that this is a $6.00 solution to a project that could cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars.  Do not expect to finish your  kitchen with bead board wallpaper and get the same durability and finish as a more permanent wooden bead board solution.  This paper has texture and thickness but it is made from paper so things that lean up against it or scrape across it can leave indents in the wallpaper.  The high quality latex wall paint does make it easy and safe to wipe down with a mild soap and water, but it can be still be scratched or dented.   Ours is holding up great so far and I have wiped it down many times, but if you need something more durable I would recommend using regular bead board instead of wallpaper.  It is a great low cost alternative to altering your kitchen for less – so make sure it will work for you before you jump into a project!  If you have kids or there is a breakfast bar (where little feet will be kicking the island)  I do not recommend this as a permanent solution.  Because our dining room chairs are so close to the island, the kids are constantly banging them into the island, and scraping things across it which leaves little scratches.  I would recommend if you have an island in a super high traffic area like us – go with beadbord instead!  I think I will eventually redo ours with beadboard to give it that extra durability, but if you have a nice quiet house where things don’t get quite as crazy and messy as mine – go for the wallpaper – it is so fast, so cheap, and so easy.  I do love how the paint turned out so I would for sure do the same exact technique on regular beadboard.

So here is how I transformed our kitchen island in just a few hours with paintable beadboard wallpaper.

The first step was to pick up a roll of paintable beadboard wallpaper from Menards.  I followed the manufacturers directions on the packaging and easily applied wallpaper all the way around our island in about 30 minutes.  I measured and pre-cut all of my pieces before soaking and applying them.  All you need to do is soak the paper for a few seconds and then apply it to your surface by smoothing it out and letting it adhere.    I decided to leave the corner trim pieces on the cabinet and just fit my cut wallpaper in between them, but you could remove them and then reapply them after the wallpaper is adhered if you want to.

I let the wallpaper dry and adhere overnight and then got ready to paint.  I used a dollar store shower curtain cut into strips as a drop cloth and used painters tape to to protect the floor around the newly covered island.  This is a great way to save money on drop clothes and makes clean up fast and easy.  I just roll it up and toss it in the garbage when I am done.

I then used a small sponge roller and a quality paint brush to cover the entire island with a bluish grey Beyer paint.  I got great results using this brand of paint and I love the color.  I added a second coat after the first had dried and let that dry as well.  I liked the look of the blue island, but felt it needed a little something else.  Like I mentioned last week – I wanted the island to be a different color as the wallpapered backsplash so it could be more of an accent piece than just another thing to blend into the space.

I decided to do a distressed looking finish which I made a paint “glaze” to create.  There are a lot of ways to create a glaze by altering prepared paint. The simplest glaze is to take your water based paint, and add a small amount of water to it, so that the color isn’t as intense.  That is exactly what I did to create a brownish colored glaze for our island.  I wish I had written down my recipe, because I can’t remember exactly what the ratio of paint to water was.  I believe I added just enough water to thin the paint a bit – no more than 1/8th of a cup to my paint.  A little glaze goes a long way – so I really didn’t need to make a lot of it to cover our island.  Once my paint was prepared I really wasn’t sure of what the end results would be  so I started on one short end of the island and played around until I got a result that I really liked.

Basically I used a paint brush to directly apply the glaze to the painted wallpaper and then used a wet and a dry rag to spread, and remove the paint until the finish looked distressed.  I worked in about a 2 inch wide section at a time.  I would run my glazed covered paint brush down two strips of the “beadboard”  design and then use a dry rag to drag the paint in a horizontal motion.  I would allow some of the paint to be wiped off and kept going until it looked right.  The indented parts of the wallpaper picked up the deepest glaze color, and then I was able to wipe it and fade the color on the flatter surfaces.  The design of the beadboard paper and the way the glaze went the different patterns added a lot of depth and interest with the glaze.  I then used a wet rag to clean things up, and remove glaze  in places that it had gotten too heavy.  I made sure that each 2 inch section was just right before I moved onto the next so the glaze wasn’t completely dried before I could get back to “fixing” it.  I guess it was a paint on, wipe off kind of process.

This is the end result of the distressed glaze finish that I added over the blue paint.  I love the look of it, and it really paired well with the color that we chose to paint our countertops.  I think it is rustic, but refined, and definitely a step up from the beat up white island that stood before us when we bought our house.  I think for the $6.00 and couple of hours that this project used up- it was a great budget friendly makeover.  It really helped change the look and feel of our kitchen and I am so pleased with the paint finish.


2 thoughts on “Budget Kitchen Island Makeover

  1. Kim,
    This look so good! Thanks for sharing. You have a real gift for remaking things! I’m trying to figure out what to do with our kitchen…no money and not much more time! But it’s not just looks, it’s primarily layout that is the problem and so much harder to figure out. If you have any great books or websites you could recommend, please send them my way! 🙂
    Take care,

    1. Thanks Kelly! I know how you feel for sure! We had to remove a wall and flip the island around to make it work, but it is still not quite right for us either. Our dinning area is so small that when we have any guests or the kids have friends over there is no place to put them. No clue how we will solve that problem yet either. We really have no definitive space for the “dinning room” except for the space between the living room carpet and the kitchen island. Our small table works just fine for now though. I will definitely send you some stuff if I come across it! I remember the general layout, but what are you missing that you don’t have in your kitchen?

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