Kitchen Island

One of the reasons we bought our 105 year old house in 2005 was because the kitchen was relatively new. It’s a good space, plenty of light through skylights (and it’s on the South side of the house so it’s even sunny in the winter).

Counter space was somewhat limited though, but there was a space in the center of the room that could fit a small island. We shopped around a bit for something that would fit the space, but we just couldn’t find anything that we were happy with.

I inherited a nice butcher’s block top from my parents when they were renovating their 1880’s house. This butcher’s block became the starting point for the island. It lived in the basement for a few years, but one day we set up a pair of saw horses and put the butchers block in place.

It wasn’t planned, but the make-shift center island existed in that state for many months. It became impossible to live without. Of course it wasn’t without its challenges. The butchers block was just a little too wide and a little too long.

Always start out with a larger pot than what you think you need.
— Julia Child

Months later, after the idea gestated in my head for a while I started working on building the center island. I had never built an honest-to-goodness piece of furniture before, I did a bunch of reading to avoid any big mistakes.

Granted it’s not 100% scratch built. I sourced the cabinet doors and the drawer fronts. I also purchased a set of table legs off eBay to use for the corners. Of corse the table legs weren’t long enough, so I did have to use my lathe to turn the feet of the island.

The shelves I’m especially proud of. I had originally planned on creating butchers block style shelves, but even though I tried to reinforce the wood it wasn’t structurally sound. I was able to repurpose the failed attempt and used it to create a nice effect by exposing the end-grain to the top of the shelf. With some blonde stain the end-product is much better than my original plan would have been.

The island has now been in the house for a few years now and I’m happy to see that it’s standing up to regular use very well and it should last many, many years to come.

Designed and built by Jonathan Sweet in Berlin, CT