How to Build A Farmhouse Island Using A Rescued Cabinet

7 Materials
5 Weeks


Because we were downsizing from a 3400 sq. ft. home to a 1900 sq.ft. farmhouse, some hard choices had to be made . So several pieces of furniture would have to go, but one of my favorite rescues was a bow front sideboard. It was being used in our formal dining area but since the farmhouse would not have a formal area, it would be necessary to find a new use for the sideboard. How to build a farmhouse kitchen island is about how to use existing furniture as a base for a new Industrial Farmhouse Style Island.

Original Sideboard (only photo available)

Since it had been decided that the side board was going to get a new life, she was packed and put in storage.

Another Sideboard??

You'll never guess what happened next!!! While on vacation, another sideboard, so similar to my rescued one, was found. Immediately a plan began to form. They could be placed back to back and something could be built in between. Sounds like a great plan and being certain, in my mind, that these two cabinets were the exact same size, it was loaded into the car.  

Playing around with different ideas

Once back at home, I climbed into our storage area and was finally able to get the dimensions of the original rescued sideboard. Oh, NO! They were not the same width and even more unfortunate, not the same height.

What do we do now?

Let me can tell you, it was such a disappointing discovery! However, because I wasn't willing to give up my dream and also because the quote for a custom built island was a little staggering, another plan began to form.  

First, begin by joining the two pieces in an L shape. How to make the cabinets the same Height?

The solution was to use 2 inch thick boards over the top of the lower piece, leaving the original top on the taller piece. We chose 8 inch wide boards for the project. The top was constructed by using a biscuit cutter, wood biscuits, glue and clamps to attach the boards together. The side board had a curved edge to the front, so we cut the new board to match the curve and cut away the original top and trim so the two pieces would fit snugly together.  

The next decision was what materials to use for the remainder of the kitchen island. We had tongue and groove boards left over from our ceilings so it was decided to use those to fill in the walls of the island. Since the farmhouse was already an industrial style, we used simple plumbing pipe for the overhang bar area and for additional shelving.

By allowing a slight over hang and placing the pipes as support, bar seating was created along one full side of the island.

By using the same style of pipe, open shelving was constructed under the adjoining end of the island. This allowed for extra storage and didn't waste any space within the kitchen island.

Since the farmhouse was still under construction, the island could not be permanently assembled until it was moved to the house. The refinishing process began. The new/old cabinet, as well as the tongue and groove boards, were painted with French Linen Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. The original rescue sideboard needed some sprucing up so the doors, drawer fronts and top all received a fresh coat of stain. It was finally beginning to look like How to Build A Farmhouse Kitchen Island might actually work.

Next, all the hardware was replaced with a combination of cup pulls and label holder pulls.

Because salvaged barn wood wasn't within our budget, we used a faux technique to make the new island top look like old barn wood. This technique was repeated for the island shelves as well. You can read more about this technique here.

By adding industrial bins to the open shelving, additional storage was created but with a clean look. Trim molding was attached at the floor to the tongue and groove planks.

So how do you like it? One thing that makes the island special is the eclectic mix of style and each side has it's own unique quality.

Thanks for stopping by. If you enjoy before and after makeover's check out this DIY project. Please feel free to ask any questions.


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4 of 6 comments
  • Ronnie Ronnie on Jun 08, 2020

    Love the paint color. Would you mind sharing the paint color for your island and the cabinets

    • Ronnie,

      the cabinets are White Dive by Benjamin Moore and the island is French Linen Chalk Paint by Annie Sloan. The island is finished with a clear wax.

  • Caroline Murphy Caroline Murphy on Jun 18, 2020

    This is stunning. I paint new construction in luxury homes and none have a beautiful island like this.