Extending Our Island to Add Counter Seating

2 Materials
1 Day

The hardest part about leaving our old house was leaving behind a kitchen that I loved. We had beautiful white cabinets, hardwood floors, and granite counter tops. Now, in our new house, the kitchen is literally TWICE the size of our old one, just not the style I loved in our old house. My husband, Joe, and I have talked about our plans to make our new kitchen our “dream kitchen”, and have decided in a few years, when we have some more money saved and the kids are older, we will take on the full kitchen reno. Until then, we’ll have to work with what we have!
 Here’s how our kitchen looked the day we closed. Before we even moved in, we added crown molding & new white base trim, painted the whole room light gray, and painted the pantry doors & window frames white.  That freshened it up quite a bit.
Over the next few months of living in our house, we would often bounce kitchen ideas off each other – what we would do differently if we gutted the whole thing and also what we could do now to improve our current living space.
One of the ideas we both agreed on was to extend the island to add counter seating.  We had a big open space (like 10 feet!) between our island and our dining room table, and had more than enough room to make the island even bigger than it already was.
The current counter top is some sort of laminate (we think Formica).  We briefly considered replacing the whole counter top (the island and the main counter top) with granite; however since we have plans to redo the whole kitchen in 5 years or so, we didn’t feel like spending $10,000+ on counter tops just to rip them out again in a few years.  Not to mention, that is A LOT of counter space to replace!  A big big big job!  We ultimately decided to just replace the island with Formica.  Since we couldn’t find the exact counter top color we have, we decided to go with a completely different color to compliment it.
We started by removing the drawers from the island, so we could take the counter top off.
Joe built the frame.   Our cabinets are birch, but it was very hard to find birch wood in the sizes we needed for the frame, so the next best match was maple.  He used maple 1″x 3″ boards for the supports under the counter, and he used a maple 4″x4″ post for the leg.  We found a stain to match out cabinets, and honestly, you can’t even tell it’s different wood!  It matches really well!  We decided to go with only one post to allow for more leg room.  I have to say, I was a little hesitant to go with only one post, but I do not regret it!  It really does give way more leg room when we’re sitting at the counter.
Joe recruited his dad and brother to help with the installation.  We extended the island to add almost 4 feet for seating.   The total length of our new island is 10 feet and I am in LOVE!
Once the frame was up and secured, we added and secured the new counter top.
We really struggled with finding bar stools that we liked.  I literally bought and returned bar stools like 3 times before we settled on these bar stools from Wayfair.   We do love them! They were pretty inexpensive and matched pretty well with the style of our kitchen.  I’m just happy the hunt is over!
Now that we’ve added counter seating, painted, added new trim and updated our dining room light fixture, I am so happy with our kitchen and dining room area!
It’s so fun putting our work into our house, and having it finally start to feel like our “home”!

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Have a question about this project?

3 of 7 questions
  • Ashley
    on Dec 28, 2019

    I actually really love the way that the formica turned out!!! If you don't mind my asking...How expensive is the style/type of formica that you used? I've tried looking up prices in the past, but I can never find anything specific...I'm hoping to find out what the approximate price per square foot would be, or however it's priced lol.

    • Robyn Garner
      Robyn Garner
      on Jan 1, 2020

      It's really hard to give you any approximate prices Ashley because no one knows precisely what decisions you'll make. First, do you know how to laminate your own formica? Doing so will save lots of money AND allow you to decide your on not only your own laminate, but also what edges you want.

      Depending how large a counter you need and how particular you are about the color and edges, pricing can be pretty cheap for a standard counter top purchased from Home Depot, to unknown amount for something such as your entire kitchen. "Home improvement stores sell prefabricated 4-foot, 8-foot and corner sections for around $50 to $200 each."

      If you are handy and comfortable with power tools, probably your biggest bang for your buck using laminate would be to purchase a router and bits for this project and do the work yourself! 😎

      "Sheet laminate can be installed on top of an existing laminate counter top, which saves the cost of tearing out existing counter tops and of preparing the counter base. Less materials are needed, and less DIY skill is required to glue down a new sheet of laminate than to install complete new counter tops."

      "Formica countertops come at an average cost of about $22 per square foot exclusive of installation cost." Totals of about $45-65/sq ft including installation.

  • I'm curious why you only put one leg at the end of the counter, it's appears your trying to hide it with the plant! Why not one on each end, that would allow for another bar stool if needed!

    • Robyn Garner
      Robyn Garner
      on Jan 1, 2020

      fyi for others - one leg would not do for granite or marble counter tops as they are very heavy and could tip sideways.

  • Liz Jackson
    Liz Jackson
    on Oct 16, 2020

    I would love to get a table and chairs just like yours! Could you please tell me where you purchased it??

Join the conversation

2 of 112 comments
  • Earnie
    on Oct 16, 2020

    Looks great. I especially love the stools you are using. Would love to find a couple of these for my counter top that we just added.

  • AndradeTea
    on Oct 16, 2020

    Very good upgrade, using the space for counter seating. I like the contrasting formica top. There has been a great improvement on that material over the years and it is quite durable. It looks lovely. All the changes you've made have added a light, upgraded look overall. :-)

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