Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island

September 14, 2015

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 




We're Chris + Julia

read more

What we're                   right now


browse the shop

Befores, afters, mood boards, plans, failures, wins. We’ve done a lot of projects, and they’re all here. 

We have a long-standing relationship with DIY, and love rolling our sleeves up and making it happen. 

Even when you don’t want to rip down a wall, you can make that space in your home better. Right now.

browse all

browse all

browse all




Popular Posts




Top Categories

This weekend, we finally paid some much needed attention to our island. Up to this point, it has been mostly covered with tools and supplies in photos bearing its bad, fake brown wood interior for all of you to see.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

We had always planned to cover those sides with the coordinating Laxarby cover panels that match the drawers and doors, but we also wanted our island to have seating. Instead of having the typical right or left side dedicated to barstools (right in our former kitchen), we opted to extend the end of the island, opposite the range, 27 inches out to house some casual seating. We did this for a couple reasons; 1. With the fridge being on the right side, it seemed incredibly inconvenient for seating to be there, as well. 2. It allowed us to have drawers/storage on both sides of the island. 3. It allowed for workspace on 3 of 4 sides of the island, which is nice when you get something out or are working with the fridge/sink/range and you can put it right on the counter.

The first step to customizing our island was adding legs. We used 4x4s as our base and Chris screwed hanger bolts into both.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves JuliaCustomizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves JuliaCustomizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

Because we have tile floors, he used a diamond drill bit (specifically for tile) to drill pilot holes and screwed the 4x4s into place until they were tight.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

For our island top, we ordered a chunky 2 1/4″ slab of plank style Black Walnut from Craft Art. It arrived last Friday and it is breathtaking! It is also extremely heavy. My parents came over and helped us haul it into the kitchen.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves JuliaCustomizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

To secure it, we drove screws through pocket holes in the 4×4 legs and Ikea base cabinets actually come equipped with support brackets for countertops that let us know exactly where the screws go.

At this point, we had our basic island shape, but it was looking very…rough.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

In the morning, we started making the island shine by (finally!) adding the cover panels to the sides but also to the legs! We purchased a few extra panels in anticipation for this project.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

We planned on adding trim, so we saved a little money by getting the shorter cover panels and dividing up the width  on the legs, attaching each section with a nail gun (where we were also adding trim pieces).

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

We were inspired by this island when picking out the trim for our legs and found this slim pencil trim pictured above at Home Depot for a couple bucks for 48 inches. Chris cut each to size, mitering the edges, and I painted them before attaching each with Liquid Nails. If you’ve ever seen the Laxarby Ikea cabinets in person, you know they are a multi-tonal black, but I just took a whole door to the paint counter and had them color match it and it worked great for all the trim, including a chunky baseboard we attached to the base of either side of the island.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

We are missing an important photo right here. A photo of all the trim attached pre-caulking and painting. It looked crazy. Not good at all. But! A little black caulk and color matched paint left us with a sleek finished island.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves JuliaCustomizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

The moulding on the base of the legs was another Home Depot find and we wrapped the baseboard we attached around to the front to give it a finished edge.

We are still in the process of Waterlox-ing (a special kind of tung oil that enriches the wood while protecting it from water or stains in the future) our black walnut. I put on two coats, about 12 hours apart, this weekend, but will probably do two more.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

So while the wood hasn’t come to its full color yet (you may even see some areas of the countertop still absorbing the oil in these photos), I couldn’t resist giving you a peek.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

It adds so much warmth and character and movement to the kitchen, we can’t imagine the kitchen without it now.

Customizing Our Ikea Kitchen Island | Chris Loves Julia

We plan on adding four backless stools to the setup once we’re finished, one to either side and two tucked in on the end which will be great for casual eating or chatting away while Chris cooks. The finished island is 50″x70″, which feels massive to us! Can’t wait to put it to use!

What do you think?

  1. Tracy says:

    I know you took a LAXARBY door in to have it color matched, but I haven’t had luck with that. Your match looks spot on! Would you be able to share: (1) the type of paint/stain you used (including the sheen – Stain, Semi-Gloss, etc.); (2) the “formula” on the attached sticker; and (3) the quantity (quart or gallon – this will impact the formula you share)? I’d like to try to purchase the same paint/stain base and have my local store duplicate your formula to see if they can get it to work.

  2. Lori says:

    Y’all have a bunch of broken picture links on this post. :(

  3. Michelle says:

    You have no idea how happy I am to have stumbled across this post! We installed our own cabinets last year and are ready to do a peninsula with seating now. But I was overwhelmed trying to figure out how to do the legs. Thank you!! I almost fell off my chair reading this, I was so excited. :)

  4. Bridget Sisson says:

    Such a beautiful island. The wood is lovely. Did you purchase the wood countertop unfinished? and then only used the Waterlox? Or did you stain then use Waterlox? The warm wood tone is lovely.
    You’ve probably grown weary of all the compliments, but gosh you really did a good job.

    • Julia says:

      Thanks Bridget! We only used Waterlox. It brought out the beautiful walnut all on its own.

      • Bridget Sisson says:

        Thanks so much! It is stunning and thanks to you, both Craft Art and Waterlox have a new customer!

      • Bridget Sisson says:

        If you wouldn’t totally mind me troubling you once more… What are the dimensions of the kitchen? If the island is 50×70, how much space do you have on either side of the island; the walking space between the island and the counter/base cabinets? I would like to have a huge island in lieu of a table and chairs (work space on one end and seating on the other end).

      • Julia says:

        There’s about 44″ on all sides of the island. Hope that helps!

      • Bridget Sisson says:

        Totally! Thanks!!

  5. Lori! says:

    Wondering about the size of your island… do you think it is the right size? Would you change anything?

  6. Jaime says:

    Did you use the 50/50 satin/sealant waterlox combination again this time, or did you nix the satin for this island? It’s gorgeous. We’re getting ready to do our own craft-art island after seeing how well this turned out!

  7. Emmie says:

    Hi Julia! Your kitchen is amazing and I know you are enjoying it! We are in the final stages of a major kitchen addition and I am so ready to be done! I had planned all along to use butcher block countertops in my pantry and after seeing yours online, decided to order the same walnut tops from CraftArt. So I have several questions about the sealer…. How did you apply the Waterlox? Brush or cloth? And how many coats? I am assuming you used a clear, untinted finish (after reading the reviews on Amazon seems there are several options).Were the fumes an issue?


  8. Allisen says:

    I am looking at doing a craft-art counter top as well for our island. I see that your island measures 50″x70″, but the craft-art counters seem to only come in 48″ max width. Did you have them custom make your counter 50″ or did you go with the 48″ with two sets of 24″ IKEA base cabinets? Your help on this would be greatly appreciated as I don’t want my counter to be too narrow!

  9. Kate clark says:

    we arw condudering the ikea laxarby island and yours looks srunning. please can you tell me where the handles are from on the island?

  10. Michelle says:

    Can you tell me what is the cover you put on the cabinets? Is this something from Ikea? It looks like the original ones are tonal..and then you put a black outer layer on top..where can I find this? thanks!

  11. Michele says:

    Hi! Love everything about your kitchen! Can you please tell me the dimensions of your island and the distance between the island and the dishwasher and the island and the stove? Thank you!

  12. Matt says:

    I’m working on our own Ikea kitchen island and have been trying to figure out where/how to install the electrical outlets. Any suggestions? I can’t seem to find them in your photos. Is there enough clearance behind the drawers to run the wiring at the back of the cabinets? Thanks

    • Julia says:

      We have electrical ready to set up in the island but haven’t done so yet! There is some clearance behind the drawers but we’re still trying to figure out exactly where we want the plug.

      • Matt says:

        Thanks. I ended up assembling all the drawers, etc. and found the clear space behind as well. We’re doing our outlets between the legs and the cabinets just under the counter so they are a little bit hidden but still fairly easy to get to.

  13. Karen says:

    This is one of the most gorgeous kitchen makeovers I have ever seen (and I have seen hundreds)!! I have two questions: 1) Did you leave the toe kick area open on either side of the island or did you put in a black recessed toe kick? 2) I noticed the corners of the legs after panels were added showed some raw edges; did you use black caulk and black paint to cover those edges or just paint them? Thanks.

    • Julia says:

      On the drawer sides of the island, we put the recessed black to kick, on the other sides (the oven side) we added a finished baseboard look painted black. We caulked and painted the island legs too.

  14. Karen says:

    I just found you via Impatient Gardener. Your kitchen and pantry are breathtaking. I just finished (almost?) our kitchen using the Bodbyn Gray and your kitchen is so beautiful, I’m almost wishing I had chosen the Laxarby. Ouch! I am particularly impressed with your island and how you made those legs. When you applied the panels to the legs, I noticed the corners showed the cuts. Did you just use black caulk on them, just paint them, or both? I know you must get tons of email, so I hope you will be able to answer this. I may be using this technique. Thank you and I hope you never stop renovating.

  15. Karli says:

    I absolutely love your kitchen. You are really pulling together a beautiful space! I especially love the island top!

  16. Jenn @ IKD says:

    Hi Chris and Julia – WOW! All of us at IKD are in love with your gorgeous kitchen island! (Personally, my favorite of your kitchen items though are those pendant lamps..I’m really very envious).

    How did you build your island? Did you use IKEA’s assembly kit and support brackets for kitchen islands? Or did you build it the traditional way? My firm designs IKEA kitchens, and most of our customers choose *not* to use the pieces from IKEA. I couldn’t tell from your photos if you did or not.

    Thanks for the info and again, your kitchen is stunning. -Jenn

  17. Victoria says:

    loooooove that moulding!

  18. Andrea says:

    Breathtaking and sophisticated

  19. Michele Double You says:

    I lurk, I never comment, and I’m not into a lot of trim for myself because I *hate* dusting and I like sleek lines, but that island is an incredibly beautiful statement and I think you guys brought your kitchen to the next level with that detailing. Kudos, bravo, huzzah, and all other types of fabulous things for you! Really, really well done.

  20. Sarah says:

    Long time reader, first time commenter! The trim on the gap is brilliant. It looks great.

    So the reason I’m commenting is because I had a dream about you guys last night because I was reading one of your posts yesterday about spraying your wall with the texture stuff and in the dream I was at your house and you were spraying it and it broke and made like canyons on your walls and Julia was like… hmmm… it could be considered art? Haha.

    Love the renovation so far!

  21. Sophia Buckley says:

    This looks so great! I love the back splash … actually just ordered samples to copy cat you :) Could you let me know what paint color you used? I looks so nice against the tile I’d love to try it.


  22. Alison G says:

    Could the island legs have just been painted?

  23. Katy says:

    I was wondering how you’d solve the seam issue without drawing attention to it, but it looks beautiful! I love the black in your kitchen so much that I’m almost reconsidering my white cabinets!


  24. BC says:

    It really looks good so far and seems to reflect your style- great job!
    When I went to the Craft Art website and looked at the walnut planks (we need an island top as well) there are no options for your size of 50×70 or a thickness of 2 1/4… Did you guys do a custom order? I didn’t see an option for that, and there are attached fees for all sizes except the smallest. Did you ever discuss what your cost for the walnut top ended up being? Trying to work a budget here!!

  25. Keegan says:

    Love it! I admit, when I first saw you putting the cover panels on the legs and I saw those very obvious lines where the panels join, I was worried. But you have covered it beautifully! It’s like the pieces of trim just belong there because they look good, not just because they’re covering gaps. I’m loving seeing the whole kitchen come together.

  26. Jess says:

    That. Looks. Gorgeous!!! That wood top… swoon! Nice work :)

  27. Jess says:

    I love that Charlie is just chillin out sleeping on the floor in most of your photos!! Also, the kitchen is looking amazing! You guys are so talented!

  28. ash met says:

    What color of paint did you use to match the LAXARBY side panels?

    • Julia says:

      I brought a panel into the hardware store and they color matched it.

      • Alex J says:

        I have to ask- what store? Our kitchen (see @modernfarmtail on Instagram) is modeled after yours and I’m having a hell of a time matching this door (trim). I’ve gone to HD and Ace, no dice. They are coming back extremely blue!!! Help!!

      • Julia says:

        Oh! I just brought the door into Ace, and they scanned and matched it.

  29. Jackie says:

    Wow Wow wow – looks awesome – I’m a little bit confused about the baseboard around the bottom of the island though – will that get wrapped all the way around?

    I can’t believe how detail-oriented this kitchen renovation has been, and the pace you’ve still been able to go. It’s pretty amazing.


    • Julia says:

      Thanks Jackie. The baseboard is wrapped around just the front edge. You can kind of see it in one of the photos, although with black cabinets all the details are dark. The baseboard design decision is repeated on the other side of the island and on one of the base cabinets (the only one with an open side). We didn’t want to continue the baseboard where the drawers are because, without even thinking about it, we tuck our feet under those cabinets when working which is where toe kicks come in handy. Hope that makes sense!

  30. MelissaB says:

    How did you manage to get rid of the small visible seam in the panels that faces the stool side and on the pilars? Did you just touch up with paint?

    • Julia says:

      On the pillars I used black caulk and paint. We actually haven’t touched the small seam from the cover panels on the actual cabinets. It’s so discreet, I’m not sure it needs anything.

  31. Kati W says:

    STUNNING! I love seeing your kitchen come together!

  32. Maria says:

    I am so jealous of your kitchen! It’s looking great. Seems like it’s almost done, no?

  33. wow wow wow! It’s absolutely breathtaking. One of the prettiest islands I ever did see :). Amazing job guys! Great vision!

  34. Blair says:

    i LOVE the island. adding that trim is genius. great job guys!

  35. Abby says:

    Wow, everything is looking so good! Can’t wait to see the final reveal.

  36. amanda says:

    This is such a great use of big box store items! I love it!

  37. Melissa says:

    Looks awesome! Love how you guys customized the legs, totally made the island look high end… We are about to start our own kitchen remodel and I wanted to incorporate a butcher block island and wood shelves (just like the ones you installed). Could you touch on how you chose the stain color for the shelves and island? And how you decided what would work with your floors? :)

    • Julia says:

      Thanks so much, Melissa! You bring up a good question. We actually aren’t staining the island, just using oil to bring out its natural tones. For the shelves, we wanted a color similar to the tones of our floors. That’s how we decided on two coats of Provincial Stain. But really, I’m all about mixing wood tones (and metals, for that matter). I don’t feel like everything has to match. We really want this kitchen to feel real and lived in. Our pocket door we are staining to match the rolling barn door so we’re crossing our fingers it all turns out looking cohesive but not match-y.

  38. Seriously, this is incredible! THAT WALNUT. We used that same trim from HD to trim out our DIY stairway newel posts which actually look pretty similar to what you did with your island legs!…and yes, it looked totally crazy while in process.

    Here’s the link if you want to take a peek:

  39. Cami says:

    WOW, so beautiful! I might have had to wipe some drool off my face…..

all the latest

We believe we should all love where we live.

We’re a couple of homebodies, working to uncover the home our home wants to be. And we’re so happy to have you here. 

HI! We're Chris + Julia

read more

Load More

Reader Faves

SHop all

What We're                     Right Now

What We're                 Right Now

Looking for our favorite things? A place to shop our home room by room, or just catch up on what Julia's wearing / loving right now? Browse the CLJ shop. 


looking for inspiration? 

We recently painted our study a dark, moody green color. This is after we first painted it a muddy green, then repainted it a blue-gray. I guess what they say is true; third time’s a charm! The journey was worth it, though, because I’m so in love with this glossy green in contrast with the […]

Can We Send You Our Love Letter?

Another way for us to stay in touch! Joining our weekly newsletter gives you access to exclusive content, never-before-seen photos, your questions answered, and our favorite DIYs. Sign up below!

Follow Along on Instagram

Welcome to our online community where we've posted home, DIY, style, renovations, and family since '09. Renovating our #cljmoderncottage in Idaho and headed for new adventures in Raleigh, NC. #cljfam #cljtransformations