Flip #3 · Uncategorized

The Not-So-Normal Kitchen Island

Remember my tiny, cramped kitchen before? Remember the massive peninsula that took up so much room in the kitchen that it made the kitchen look miniscule? Remember the retro, faded countertops? Remember the honey oak cabinets? Remember the stick-on tiles? Remember the large dividing wall that made the space even smaller?

Yeah..that’s all gone now.


The kitchen has been a loooong process, and it’s not totally over yet. But I’ve made some huge improvements!

What started with a Friday night date with a sledgehammer, turned into a new partial cabinet layout.


And then came the removal of that large dividing wall!


Then, of course, those stick-on tiles HAD to go! So I added beautiful hardwoods to match the living room.


Obviously the cabinets got a face lift too! Then it was time to add some fun retro-inspired appliances!


And I added gray-neutral countertops!



And I accented with retro hardware. And for the last several months, this is how the kitchen has stayed.

But in the background, I was working on a very unique kitchen island! While shopping at a local antique store, I stumbled on a beat up metal cabinet.

Flip 3 Shopping 005.JPG

The cabinet had broken legs and chipping paint. But it was just too cool to pass up. And the added bonus? This piece was taken out of the local high school cafeteria circa 1960s…the exact same time Dad was attending high school there! Since this flip is being designed with a retro flair, I loved that addition!


For an embarrassing amount of time, this cabinet stayed in my garage- taking up an enormous amount of room. I started by stripping the remaining paint off the cabinet. It was flaking off in tiny pieces. After I applied the gel to the cabinet, I used a scraper to remove the paint.


When I had all of the paint scraped, I cleaned and cleaned…and cleaned. And cleaned the cabinet. Because of the gel and years of use, it does not have a shiny appearance, but I kinda like that. There are still little hints of paint and wear on the cabinet, and given its history, I appreciate all of that!

Flip 3 Shopping 006.JPG

Since some of the legs were broken, I removed all of them. I opted to replace them with rotating casters. The cabinet is enormously heavy, so having the casters not only helps with moving it, but I like the industrial look of them.

After way too long, I finally got the cabinet from the garage into the kitchen! It’s not your typical kitchen island, but it’s retro and unique! Not only that, it provides tons of storage- two large pull out drawers and shelves.


It’s hard to believe this is the same kitchen! The island is the perfect addition!


I assure you, there are still 924 more projects to do, but it feels really good to see visible, dramatic progress. Every flip is different. I choose different design elements, different things inspire me, but yet I love every one. Admittingly, I have incorporated far more of me into this flip– for obvious reasons. But even with so much of me–and Mac–I think this design will really appeal to buyers!



64 thoughts on “The Not-So-Normal Kitchen Island

  1. Hi. I went through your blog but can’t find the link that shows the rest of the gorgeous island. What I’m really wondering is how the backside of the island looks like from the living room. If you could attach the link on the post, I’d appreciate it.

    1. Hi Carmela! I will be posting that soon! I’ve been working on some projects on the other side of the room & hadn’t gotten around to photographing yet.

    1. The island on wheels is so convenient! Currently the back is the same finish as the front, but I’ve been debating doing something different with it since it’s visible from the living room.

  2. Wow. Your ‘before’ kitchen looks like my current one! Your redo has given me hope. I especially like the choice of the retro appliances and the inclusion of the cafeteria cabinet – all that work to salvage a truly unique piece. So, AFTER I finish my new shed and the hallway, I’ll be ready to tackle our kitchen. Thank you for the inspiration.

  3. I love your kitchen and that island!! I’ve never read your blog, but I’m going to start because I want to start doing a few renovations and DIY myself!! πŸ™‚

  4. I love your kitchen! I have a very similar layout and was wondering if the wall you took out was a load bearing wall. My wall separates kitchen from dining room which never gets used. Thanks and I love your blog, I just found it!πŸ˜‰

    1. Hi Leanna! It was not load bearing wall- luckily. We did, however, decide to use two very heavy, sold beams at the top of the opening just to give as much extra support as possible.

  5. Love that u took on a remodel and it is a lot of hard work but always worth it. We are in the process of starting one as well. The only part I don’t like is being without a kitchen. course going out isn’t bad though. Enjoy!

  6. I really like the island remake. I get that your budget only allowed for Formica counter tops (good you didn’t go too retro with boomerangs, starbursts or glitter), but I really can’t get past the arched panel doors on the cabinets. You say they’re original, but I think they may have been replaced in the 70′-80’s. With mid-century pulls, it looks like they’re fighting each other. I don’t think there is anything that can be done to arched panel doors (other than replacing them) to make them look like they belong in a retro “flip”. If you hadn’t hired a cabinet re-finisher, it could have allowed you to replace the doors. One more thing, with all the grey tones, I wouldn’t have chosen a brown stain for the flooring.

      1. Thanks! People seem to think I do these posts asking what they would have done differently…without realizing I couldn’t care less what they would have done!

  7. I really like the island remake. I get that your budget only allowed for Formica counter tops (good you didn’t go too retro with boomerangs, starbursts or glitter), but I really can’t get past the arched panel doors on the cabinets. You say they’re original, but I think they may have been replaced in the 70′-80’s. With mid-century pulls, it looks like they’re fighting each other. I don’t think there is anything that can be done to arched panel doors (other than replacing them) to make them look like they belong in a retro “flip”. If you hadn’t hired a cabinet re-finisher, it could have allowed you to replace the doors.

    1. I actually priced replacing the doors–cheapest was over $2,000. Cost around $700 to paint. So when flipping, I always go with my least expensive option! And the doors were replaced- in early 80s.

  8. I like the island but I think it would look great to paint it the color of your canisters & the cabinets handles – turquoise. I once had a turquoise gas stove & refrigerator in my apt. in 1967. I loved it. My mother-in-law bought me a turquoise can opener to match appliances that I still have.

  9. Well, I’m here to say something “nice”. I love you kitchen ‘flip’. I am always amazed at how much talent I see on here.

  10. Love everything you’ve done, but I do have one question, & it’s NOT a criticism! You knocked out the wall, but then you placed the island right in front of that gorgeous huge opening…I don’t understand that…. Does kitchen traffic flow smoothly around the island??? Thanks!!

    1. There’s actually at least 2′ behind the cabinet where the wall was originally. What isn’t picture in this post is the eat-in kitchen area beside the island with tons of room– you can see a portion of it in my Familiar Curtains post.

      1. I wondered too about removing wall then having movinable counter in front of it. So liked the counter but couldn’t figure out what was happening..didn’t make sense to me with what you were saying doing…would love to see other areas..thanks for taking time to explain..love the brightness!!!

      2. Thanks! The picture is deceptive. There’s actually tons of room, and the best part of the island is that it is on casters and not permanent, so if the buyers don’t want an island they have that open room.

  11. You did such a fantastic job redoing your kitchen! Your vision of the island redo was awesome, why people can’t see potential is too bad, it makes so much sense to salvage vintage pieces that enhance your space instead make it look generic just like any place else. Kudo’s to you for all the work you have done, and looking forward to seeing the rest of the projects.

  12. Your new kitchen is absolutely beautiful!!! I love light and bright!! And I love your canisters. May I ask where you got them?! TIA!!

  13. Did you put any kind of sealer on the metal cabinet? I have metal cabinets in my kitchen and am noticing some rust and discoloration in high use areas. Any suggestions?

    BTW, amazing flip!

    1. I didn’t. This cabinet was outside for a long time before I purchased it, so there are some rust spots. I actually loved the patina of the rust and chips! I just scrubbed using steel brush and metal cleaner. My next plan is to use stainless steel wipes for a last cleaning/shining.

  14. having flipped a few homes ourselves, I have to ask why you would spend money on a fridge (most homes for sale don’t even have one) and not to something with that out of date backsplash and counter top? There are so many inexpensive options to choose from. Craigslist is a bonanza of left over tile, countertops, marble, granite, remnants, wood, etc,,,I mean, you name it, I’ve found it on there. don’t get me wrong, the kitchen is very pretty, I was just wondering why you chose to do what you did. maybe it’s the particular area in which you are selling that the counter and backsplash need not be updated??? If so, I get it!

    1. Well if you read my blog and links I provided, you’d see it was a brand new countertop. Unlike other flippers, I salvage everything I can- including countertops. And, if you read my blog, you’d see I live in the houses I flip- so, yes, a fridge is a necessity. But thanks for questioning what I do.

      1. well i didn’t mean it snidely. Not sure why I got that kind of reply. When u say flip, it usually means you turn around and sell it. No one puts a fridge in a kitchen that goes directly on the market. but since you live in it, then I see why. It was a simple question. And my bad on the countertop. Since it was laminate, I thought you kept the old one. Ever do pre-fab quartz or granite? not much more than what you spent for laminate.
        If you want people to read your entire blog, then make a little mention of it at the beginning of your post. I’m all for salvaging, but if you can find an upgrade for next to nothing, and that upgrade gets you a bigger price, then that’s a no-brainer.

      2. I actually did mention it throughout the entire post– with links to each post. A good rule of them in cyber commenting– if it’s negative, just exit and keep browsing elsewhere!

      3. As a Realtor, I assure you I know the difference. Which is why I’ve actually dedicated several posts to explaining my “flip” process and how it does NOT meet the narrow definition of flipping. Be sure to check out those posts.

  15. The finish (or “anti- finish”) on the metal cabinet is fantastic, and definitely enhances the mystique of its history.
    I , for one, appreciate a design that nods toward the time period of the house. It’s refreshing to see a flip that isn’t a faux craftsman , Big Box cookie cutter.
    Gonna be difficult to part with when the buyers show up with way more cash than you ever imagined!

  16. That cabinet is AMAZING! Love it! Do you happen to have a Pinterest account I could follow? I looked around your site and maybe I’m just missing the link lol sorry if that’s true!

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