The Year of the Ugly

Yes, I know.  My last post was in October.

I missed Thanksgiving.  And Christmas.  And I had beautiful tablescapes.  My mother-in-law told me that my Thanksgiving table has been my prettiest table so far, and I know mother-in-laws are supposed to say sweet things like that, but she truly meant it.  So shame on me for not posting!

But it is the new year, and I always like to get something out there in January.

I may need to warn you that this could be The Year of the Ugly.

The year I post about projects in their current state.




Hence, the oh-so-pretty photo above.

Okay, so with that forewarning out of the way, let me introduce to you a room never before shown on my blog before.


The Kitchen

I like the way the font suggests something pretty.  Like, “Ooh, we’re about to see a beautiful Pinterest-worthy kitchen!”

The font lies, people.

There’s a reason I’ve never posted our kitchen on the blog before.

Because it’s a big blob of brown.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

Not really sure what the builders were thinking when they decided there should be absolutely no contrast between floor and a large room full of same-colored cabinetry.  Just that they weren’t.

This is how I feel every time I look in this room.


Now, don’t get me wrong… I know this room isn’t that bad.

It is, in fact, the biggest kitchen I’ve ever owned.  Not that having a big kitchen is all that important, but I’ve had a super, tiny kitchen before.  This is much better.

It also has lots and lots of storage.   Considering the fact that my husband is a chef, and the fact that I am a organizational neat freak, having enough storage is key to our healthy kitchen relationship.  Now I still have to leave notes like “If this is a child’s plate or bowl, it does not belong in this cabinet–Mgmt” but that is not really the fault of the cabinet itself.  It knows what it is supposed to be harboring.  It’s the human I live with that refuses to recognize visual clues.

But the kitchen is monotone.

And monotone is ugly.

Ugly is not an adjective I want my home to exude.

So before we even moved into our home, I knew that this kitchen would be changing.  I wanted a bright and airy kitchen.  A Pinterest-worthy kitchen!  Financially, of course, that meant we had to do most of the work ourselves. Ugh. I will tell you that painting 32 cabinet doors and 11 cabinet drawers seems pretty freaking daunting.

Which is why, for three years, this kitchen has gone untouched.

And unphotographed.

But the plans are always there.  In my head.  Constantly resurfacing each time I sit in my comfy chair and stare at my very brown kitchen.

My mind is evil.  

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How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

  1. Build cabinets up to ceiling
  2. Paint, paint, paint, paint, paint….
  3. Add subway tile
  4. Build larger island
  5. New lighter-in-color counters

Each time I share said ideas with Hubby, he looks at me as if I have given him great pain.  And while there are a lot of projects I am willing to take on alone, the kitchen is definitely not one of them, my friends.  I needed Hubs on board.

I’d like to say that my sweet charm and lovely disposition finally won him over, but alas, that is not the case.

Rather Chip and Joanna Gaines finally convinced him.  Many thanks go out to you, Ultra-Chic DIY Goddess and Demo Day Warrior!

After some summer-vacation-cable-in-hotel-room-HGTV-binge-watching, Hubs and I fell in love with the oversized kitchen island seen on Fixer Upper’s Season 2 | Episode 6 | Life Is Just a Tire Swing.

“We could do that,” I told Hubby, when we got home.  “We could get rid of our table and build right off of our current island, and then we could have one big central island-table.”

And instead of doubling over like I had just side-kicked him, Hubby actually got out the measuring tape.


How Do We Make This Affordable?

The discussion of building an oversized island continued over the next few months, always with the question, “How are we going to make this affordable?”

We did not have access to cool things like reclaimed rail-car flooring, nor did we plan to even seek out wood of that thickness, knowing the price was not in our budget.  Using butcher block seemed more our style.  So we checked out prices at both Lumber Liquidators and IKEA, and decided that since we would need at least three pieces of butcher block, IKEA was the more reasonable way to go.

When shopping butcher block at IKEA, you need to know that they sell both solid wood (HAMMARP) and solid wood layer over particleboard (KARLBY). We decided to go with Hammarp because we wanted a solid piece of untreated wood.  It came in three different types of wood (birch, beech, and oak) that varied in price from $139-$189.  The size is quite long (98 inches x depth 25 5/8) so we knew it would work for what we wanted to do.

HAMMARP Countertop
IKEA | HAMMARP Countertops | Click photo for more details


Mega Island Commences

Skip forward to Christmas vacation, and with both kiddos hanging out with Grandma for a few days, Hubby suggested we get started on the island.  It is always a good thing when Hubs kicks off Project Mode.  He is less likely to fuss when things go wrong, or the project starts taking longer than usual, or any other obstacle that makes him start questioning why he is involved in the first place occur (all the things I have to put up with when I get us both invested in a multi-weekend long project).

Like any enthusiastic DIYer, I had already taken the cabinet doors off the original island when I realized I had taken no “Before” kitchen shots.  So while Hubs began removing the countertop, I quickly grabbed my camera and began photographing the Brown Blob.

Please note, the kitchen you see below is in a relatively clean state. Unfortunately for you, reader, this post is titled The Year of the Ugly.  The photos you see in this post, and any continuing posts, will be un-staged and real.  And real life is messy.  

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

I removed the cabinet door hardware and placed them in snack-sized Ziploc bags labeled with cabinet number so it would be easy to put back together when finished.  Because the interior cabinets were already white, and I wasn’t planning to paint them, I was actually able to keep the interior hardware attached by simply loosening the screws somewhat and flipping the hardware to the inside.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

Hubby removed the countertop, the corner trim, and the quarter-round molding at the base.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

Then he headed downstairs to the garage to build two table pillars while I got to work lightly sanding all of the sides of the island with an orbital sander.  As per instructions from a friend of mine who recently painted her own kitchen cabinets, I did not over-sand.  I simply removed the shine on all sides.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

Then I began to add new trim to the island.  This is such an easy upgrade!  Seriously, I wish I had done this sooner.

First I added all of the vertical pieces, making sure to cover the center seam on the back of the island.  Then I added the top horizontal pieces (you’ll have to skip a few pics to see this).

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

After those pieces were attached, I began to plan for the baseboard.  Because the baseboard would be cut at an angle, I needed to measure my back corners first.  In a perfect world, my corners would automatically be right angles, thus allowing me to miter both boards at 45 degrees.

I have found that this is rarely the case.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

You can see that one of my corners was actually 89 degrees, so when I made my cuts on the miter saw, I cut the two pieces at 44.5 degrees.  This just helps lessen the gaps between pieces when attaching later.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

Everything is currently attached here except for the baseboards.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

I choose to leave the baseboard unattached until after I had finished painting the entire island.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

This would eliminate me having to tape off the floor when painting.  Score!


It’s About to Get Ugly

If you’ve read any of my past posts, you know that I have a love-hate relationship with painting.

The fact is–when painting–it always looks ugly before it looks pretty.

And I don’t really like ugly.

But I really do like pretty, so I have to just suffer through.

We started with the following primer from Lowes.  This primer does have an odor–not overly strong–but I did keep our porch door open to help with ventilation.  (You can see the countertop came back out periodically as we needed a functioning kitchen.)

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

I only did one coat of primer.

In hindsight, I should have done two, because I ended up needing three good coats of paint on each side to finally get a solid white.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

We chose Valspar’s Swiss Coffee for the paint color.  This thoroughly confused my husband who was sent to pick up the paint.  I got a very concerned phone call as he drove home from Lowes.

Hubby:  Honey, this color is very white.

Me:  But it’s pretty white, right?

Hubby:  Yes, but it’s white.

Me:  Well, it’s supposed to be white.  We said we wanted white.

(This is where I have to worry about Hubby having early onset dementia, as we had just had a conversation about the color we wanted–i.e.white–before he left the house to pick up said color–i.e. white)

Hubby:  But you told me to pick up Swiss Coffee.


Me:  Did you think I was sending you to get brown?

(Two things come to me at this point, both of them alarming.  1.  Would Hubby not only believe, but also accept, that after a conversation about the color paint we wanted, I–being a calculating, scheming, and shrewd wife–would actually send him to get a color I secretly wanted? and  2. How have I not realized this power before?)

Hubby:  Well, I am telling you right now…people in Switzerland do not drink coffee this color.

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

You can see it’s starting to get whiter, but still looking pretty ugly.

I used this angled paint brush to paint where the backboard and trim meet, and a foam roller to paint the flat surfaces (I keep these 4-inch refills on stock in the household and use them for everything).

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

I love how I painted and sanded, and painted and sanded some more until I had this very lovely white island….and then didn’t take a photo of it.

I’d like to think that this is due to my newbie status as a blogger, but really, I think it has to do with me getting into in major Project Mode, and then forgetting all about the camera I am supposed to be using to document Project Mode.  Sigh.

Thank you so much for sticking through the ugliness above as I document the very messy and very real process of do-it-yourself living in the Hedlund household.  I promise to keep it coming…

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Coming Soon

How To Create an Extra Large Kitchen Island Top Using IKEA Butcher Block (a.k.a. Mega Island)

How To Build An Oversized Kitchen Island | My Creative Happy

5 thoughts on “The Year of the Ugly

  1. Susan McMahan

    Can’t wait to see how far you’ve gotten when we come in February! So far, looking good!
    Love, Mom
    PS: Your Thanksgiving table was spectacular. Your ‘Other Mom’ was not exaggerating! ?

    • Hopefully, we will be able to sit at our new kitchen island for dinner, and watch Drew prep food like a Hibachi grill! LOL!

  2. I’m cracking up. I haven’t even finished reading this post but had to comment. It, too, was Chip and Joanna who brought my husband on board for a major upcoming kitchen reno. Too funny. Chip makes it all look like fun when it really isn’t. Giggles!

    You have a beautiful blog and family. I found you on Pinterest with the pin of selling your house in a weekend. Great job getting your home ready to sell! Your photos turned out beautifully! I look forward to doing the same in a few years.

    The tip to take photos is a good one. I heard this same tip long ago in the realm of decorating not staging for the MLS. In that tip it suggested you then turn your photos into black and whites to see what felt out of balance or felt too heavy without color distracting you. I’ve been looking at homes online even though we aren’t selling for a few years to see what jumps out at me in horror and what gives me peace.

    Thank you for taking the time to share your adventures with us! God Bless~Carol

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