Adding custom detail to a plain kitchen island

August 14, 2018

This is one of those (fairly) simple projects that makes me silly happy because it's so inexpensive but adds such a lovely, custom detail. If you don't know by now...that's the name of my game. Custom looks that are easy and inexpensive to execute. 

I adore our huge island in this house -- it is the focal point of our kitchen for sure. Instead of stone I had butcher block installed (I shared how to stain and treat wood counters here). That went a long way to making the island a little more custom. 

But I was missing some of the details I had added to our kitchen island in the last house. You can see how I extended that one myself here. I've always had a couple projects in mind for this one, and I finally made one of them happen! 

Here's how the ends of the island looked before: 

How to add character to basic kitchen island

Pretty basic right? I didn't have any special trim added to them when we built for a few reasons -- the biggest of all money. I knew I could do something myself for less than we'd pay the builder. Also, I wasn't sure what I wanted to do and knew I'd have to sit on it for awhile. 

The other day I finally got after it and sketched a few different designs. When I build something this is usually my first step -- I showed you how I plan big projects here. I had a few different designs in mind: 
Kitchen island design ideas

I LOVE the "X" design and knew it would look lovely, but I see it ev.ery.where. And again, always love it! I just wanted something different. Plus, it's a more traditional look and I wanted something that leaned a little more modern. 

Then the one in the middle was the next plan. I love the modern look, but it went a little too modern for this room. I was sitting in our family room while trying to decide and looked over at our coffee table and noticed the diamond shape throughout. (Here's the coffee table.) I taped each design out on the island, and this is what really sold me:
Using painter's tape to see design on wall

I had some scrap wood in the garage and started playing around with sizes for the trim. I ended up with a thicker frame for around the edges and a skinner piece for the diamond shape. 

The frame was the easiest part. I just did mitered corners and nailed them up with the nail gun: 
How to add DIY detail to kitchen island

The diamond design took more time, but wasn't especially difficult. It just took some patience. :) 

I found the middle of each side of the frame and marked it. (First photo below.) Then I held up the trim to that mid-point and marked it on each side so I would know what angle to cut it. I hope these photos make sense: 
Cutting a diamond shape with trim

This photo may help explain my process better. I would start with the first angle and marked where it met the frame on the other end as well. Because one side hit the outlet, I had to cut one piece on each side to go around it: 
How to cut a diamond shape for wall treatment

Basically it was just a lot of holding up the trim and marking and taking it to the saw. I'm sure there's some kind of tool that would have given me the correct angle, but even then I would have double checked it myself with this method. 

Keep in mind, very few things in our homes are exact. Because I trimmed this out first and because it wasn't a perfect square (the island is wider than it is tall), I couldn't cut one piece and then just copy it for the other side. It was a little more precise than that. 

Again -- not hard! Just time consuming because I had to do a lot of running to the saw. But it was so worth it! What a difference this small detail makes: 
How to add some character to kitchen island

You may have noticed I painted the trim before installing, which I rarely do. I didn't want to get any paint on the actual cabinets, so I had to make sure it was mostly painted first. I did touch up the front of the wood after filling holes, but that was it.

I took one of the doors off the island and got it color matched -- I have to say, it's pretty perfect! I don't have a color name but here is the formula:
Formula for perfect light gray paint

I think this design works so well in here! Not too busy but still a classic look:
Gray island white cabinets brass accents

I did both sides of the island for less than $30, plus the paint (which I may use for one other idea I have). Not bad to add a little customization to the island: 
Adding a diamond design to island

Here's a look at the other side. I just LOVE it!!: 
Adding design detail to end of island

I keep walking by the island on purpose so I can look at it. 😍

Here's a closer look for you: 
DIY diamond design on kitchen island

I ended up painting the outlets -- which I may regret since from experience. I know they don't hold up well. I found gray options at the hardware store but they're not a great match. I think I'll take these off and spray them with a clear coat to see if that helps. If you've done this I welcome any advice!

I nailed all of the trim right into the side of the island -- I don't use glue anymore just in case. I don't ever plan to remove this but I learned a long time ago to never say never. ;) I used very short nails. 

It took me a few hours total and $30 bucks for this project that sets our kitchen apart! Totally worth it:  
Light gray island white cabinets kitchen

Oh, and you know I love my little IKEA rod -- I just didn't want to cover up my artwork. ;) I hung it at the end of the cabinets and think it looks even better there! I actually do use these items and like having them right there:
IKEA hanging rod on kitchen cabinets

This is definitely a favorite project of late! So happy with how it turned out. I have this thing with islands -- if you've been reading for years you know I tweak them a lot. ;) They're such a focal point in a kitchen and easy to customize. 

If you'd like to see the sources for anything in this room, please check out the list at the bottom of this post

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  1. Yours was the first DIY blog I ever saw. I didn't even know what a "blog" was! I was drawn to your desire to keep projects simple and as inexpensive as possible while retaining the high end look. Still with you for the same reasons. Love the island updo!

  2. I read your blog all the time, but don't often comment, however - this DIY is just GREAT !! Such a simple touch to make your home more polished and unique. I agree the "X's" are a little overdone at this point. I like that you thought of something different.

  3. Very nice! Looks fantastic. As for the outlet covers, in places like this I just replace the plastic cover with one of the unfinished wood ones and paint it. Holds up much better to wear and tear, looks nice too.

    1. That is such a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

    2. I was thinking the same thing but I would replace it with a cool copper or metallic outlet, that way you don't have to match the color but it keeps the custom look.

  4. Looks great! Question - what is the thickness of the trim you used? Was it plywood cut down or did you buy it that way?

    1. Good question! I forgot to mention that. The thicker is about three inches and the diamond is about one. I got them from Menards and they are called lattice.

  5. Love the diamond shape on the end of your island. Good addition. Also, your IKEA rod looks better on the end of your cabinets. That end needed some attention also and your often used items are just right. Love your new home.

  6. love how that little touch adds so much to the end of your island. your kitchen is so pretty! forget you coming going to your house!

  7. I'm in the process of deciding on flooring for our home. Would you mind sharing what you've chosen for your new home? Brand and color included? I can't seem to find it in any of your posts. Thanks!

    1. They are Diamond Living, aged harmony plus in auburn. :)


If you have a specific question I will do my best to answer you back here!

You can find our paint colors and links to items at the "Our Home" tab at the top of my site.

THANKS so much for reading!