How to Turn a Used Bookcase Into a Functional Kitchen Island

How to Turn a Used Bookcase Into a Functional Kitchen Island
Photo: chainarong06, Shutterstock
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Sitcoms (usually) have the best kitchens. Of course, that’s because they’re fake, missing an entire wall, and designed to make it easy for the cameras to get the angles they need. In addition to a swinging door from the kitchen to the neighbouring room, one of the other sitcom kitchen staples is a kitchen island.

Unfortunately, kitchen islands aren’t exactly standard in a lot of homes and apartments. But, there is a way to get that extra storage and counter space without having to move: make your own island. One way to do that is upcycling a bookcase. It could be one you already have sitting around, or a flea market find. Here’s how to do that, courtesy of Jenn Largesse, DIY expert and editor for This Old House.

What you need

Before getting started, make sure you have all the supplies you need:

Materials

  • Bookcase
  • Paint recommended for use in kitchens
  • Roller Tray and Liners
  • Contact Paper – Marble
  • (1) 3 x 5 x 20cm Board
  • (1) 3 x 20 x 15cm Board
  • 1 1/4” (3.2cm) Pocket Hole Screws
  • 1 1/4” (3.2cm) Finish Nails
  • Wood Filler

Tools

  • 6cm paint brush
  • Mini roller with 10mm nap roller cover
  • Sanding sponge
  • Miter saw
  • Drill/driver

What to do

Now that you have everything you need, it’s time to get started. For visuals, go to Largesse’s original post on This Old House, where she provides photos to accompany each step. But for now, here’s how you turn a bookcase into a kitchen island, according to Largesse:

Step 1: Prep the bookcase

First, remove the back of the bookcase so that the shelves are open on both sides. Then clean the surface with warm water and mild detergent. Fill any dents or scratches with wood filler. Once the filler is completely dry, sand the areas smooth.

Step 2: Add the trim boards

Hide any rough edges, and fill any nail holes with wood filler. Let that dry, then sand it smooth.

Step 3: Prime the corners and trim

Apply the primer to the bookcase. Start with a brush: applying paint in the corners and to the trim.

Step 4: Prime the shelves and sides

Fill the paint tray with primer. Put the roller in the paint tray, and roll until it’s evenly coated. Then prime the flat shelves and sides. Once the primer is dry, lightly smooth the finish with a 220-grit sanding sponge.

Step 5: Paint the corners

Apply the paint using a brush to coat the corners of the bookcase and the trim.

Step 6: Paint the shelves and sides

Fill the paint tray with paint. Put the roller in the paint tray, and roll until it’s evenly coated. Apply the paint to the shelves and sides of the bookcase. After the paint has dried, you can lightly smooth the finish with a sanding sponge and apply a second coat, if necessary.

Step 7: Assemble the top

Now it’s time to make the worktop for the island. Assemble two 3cm x 20cm boards — cut to a length 5cm longer than the width of the bookcase’s top — with pocket screws. Wrap the edges with 3cm x 5cm boards, secured with finish nails.

Step 8: Put on the protective contact paper

Cover the new top with self-adhesive contact paper. Wrap the paper over the top, down the sides, and around the bottom edge. Finally, centre the work top on the bookcase, then screw upwards through the bookcase and into work top to secure it in place.

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