DIY Campaign Style Kitchen Island

I was really happy to use an antique dresser as a kitchen island in our apartment for the last year and a half. It's worked really well. My only complaints were that the dresser was a couple inches too high and the drawers were a little sticky. When I found some replacement dressers for our bedroom, so it was time to try the DIY I had been dreaming of for months and I wanted to do the project for as little money as possible.


So to begin with I had a pair of campaign chests that were 31.5" tall and 30 wide. I used a power drill and a handful of drywall screws (which are really sharp) to screw the two dressers together from the inside.


I had my local hardware store (Metropolitan Lumber) cut me a big piece of smooth plywood to fit the back of the connected dressers and also six 4" tall legs from a 3" wide post, all for less than $20. I asked them to be really exact with the measuring, which they really were. I did a little bit of wood filling and sanding to the legs first.


Then I attached the plywood and counter-sunk the screws so I could fill the holes and have a more seamless finish. The plywood backing helped the dressers to fit my marble top a little better and also helped keep the dressers better together structurally. Once the plywood was screwed on, I attached the legs using mending plates (a combination of corner and flat plates). I tried to sink these in as flat with the wood as possible.


I started out with the plan to paint the new island white because I was sort of sick of having a dark colored island and thought white would be nice and bright in the space. I only had a chance to get one coat of white on the frame before I changed my mind. It was just too vanilla and boring.


And I couldn't get this image out of my head:


So I pulled out the Smoke Gray oil based paint from this project.


When I paint furniture, I always use a white foam roller and I do a sort of dry coat first and then I do a thicker second coat that really covers the old color. Sometimes you'll need to do a light sanding between coats.


While the paint was drying I cleaned the pulls and plaques with Brass-O and discovered my mini nail head love.


Since I didn't want to spend any money on this project, I just worked with the hardware that I had from the dressers and the bookshelves (which have been recycled). I made the plaques stretch and put a little less on the front so there could be at least eight plaques on the back of the island.


It's not perfect, but I'm really loving it! I love the color with my black cabinets and white floors. And the glossy oil based enamel finish has been a dream to clean. Everything wipes right off. (It's way more glossy than these photos show. You can see though in the picture above I'm wearing a hot pink shirt. Super glossy!)


I might go back and order a few plaques for the sides, but I sort of like it a little more sparse. I don't want to go overboard with the brass.



I sort of think the more substantial nail heads make the plaques a little chunkier anyway, so it's okay there are less plaques.


Not only do I love the new look and color, but I LOVE the functionality. The much deeper drawers open and shut as smooth as buttah. And the top of the marble hits at exactly 36" (standard counter height).


Do you have a unique kitchen island? I'm a big fan of islands.

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82 comments:

Becky said...

okay, i'm so in love with what you've done. mine is original as well...we had a very tricky space and needed something old and rustic to fit with the modern tones of the kitchen. old and new. anyhoo, after finding an old barn filled with the most amazing french farmhouse tables and industrial tables (sooo long) we stumbled upon this old woodshop station with original lockers. i spray painted them gunmetal gray and need to get better stools. here's the link - and don't judge (bad pics) - we're right in the middle of a huge remodel we're doing ourselves. (everything in the kitchen but the countertops is all us). i don't normally post but i'm such a geek about our island.

http://asplashofbipolar.blogspot.com/2011/10/my-kitchenagaini-dont-care-if-youre.html

leFiligree said...

we have a galley kitchen, so no island, but that smoke grey is BANANAS! great choice with the brass, and the black cabinets. white just wouldnt have done it justice :)

Tamara Styles said...

Love the look. This looks very NY...great JOB>

Siren London said...

oh my gosh, that is amazzzing. I love the smoke grey, I often want to paint things grey, and never have the courage! Wow it really encourage me to replace our very long and dingy dinner table in our kitchen into something like this!

smalltowngirl said...

Like everyone mentioned, love the color with the brass. I feel like the back looks unfinished though. Maybe a huge sheet of brass to cover the back? I don't know, but even without it is fabulous

Allison Young said...

it looks amazing. good job!!

www.absurdlypeculiar.blogspot.com

Sami said...

What a great idea to recycle what you had. Looks great and the color is also nice. We have an island made with ikea cabinets with 2 deep drawers to put all our small appliances and we put 4 heavy duty wheels, so I can move it around from the middle to the side.

The Salvage Snob said...

Wow!!!! That's amazing. You did an absolutely beautiful job. Congrats!!

sophie isabelle said...

i am in love! so amazing!

xx

jessica said...

I love the brass! Speaking of, im dreaming of brass hardware in my future kitchen.
Dc

Mel & Liza said...

So good looking!!! My kitchen is more of an island itself, but I am thinking about my farmer drawers and what I could do to them. Gracias for the post!

Amanda @ Heart Tree Home said...

Unbelievable! It looks so great. I will never get sick of a good campaign chest project.

elizabeth leach said...

Wow, very nice! And I still love that rug in the kitchen!

mom23 said...

Hi Jenny, it looks wonderful! Except does the marble top fit correctly on the left side (if you're standing by the drawers?) It doesn't look exact on that side...but regardless -- outstanding job as usual! I was wondering what you were going to do with your bedroom campaign. Love that color, too!

Kim@ofallthefish.com said...

I absolutely adore this! Looks so SO great and I think it's unbelievably inspiring that you've found so many unique uses for the same slab of marble. I always love reading your blog to see what you'll come up with next!

Tiffany Leigh {thedesignerlifestyle} said...

This is absolutely amazing! As an aspiring interior designer and student, I can honestly say you and your blog have been an amazing inspiration and I look up to you so much!
Thank you for sharing.
Tiffany
thedesignerlifestyle.blogspot

pam {simple details} said...

Fabulous diy, Jenny! I LOVE unique islands!

amber wallace said...

It tuned out so well, I love it! The gray looks so good. I wish I had a island. My kitchen has an odd angle that I need to straighten out someday. I have to be ready to do the floors and counters at the same time though so it's gonna be a while :). But I love the idea of doing a dresser.

And thank you so much for your sweet comment yesterday on my blog. I'm not gonna lie, it went straight to my head! Thank you for taking the time!

HannahJ said...

OOHHHH It is brilliant!! I LOVE The gray too! After seeing you use it on the side table I bought it for a little entryway telephone table in my house- love the smooth & shiny finish!

Justine {Stop Me if You've Heard This One} said...

It's AMAZING! I am obsessed with campaign style anything right now, but you totally nailed it. It fits in your kitchen perfectly!

~ Stop Me if You've Heard This One

xo Jamie said...

Fantastic! Love the color!! Love campaign and the look of it the kitchen! What great idea for an island! looks beautiful, happy cooking:)

Danielle said...

Wow! The island looks amazing! Love the color, the contrast with your cabinets, the trim details. Definitely bookmarking - and pinning this one!

LindsB said...

It looks amazing! What a fancy upgrade for your kitchen too!! I've got to get out and find me a piece of campaign furniture now :)

Nora said...

I'm seeing green! LOVE it!

lizziefitz said...

Love love love!!!

Karen said...

Love it! You have such a great eye for color and style.

karen l said...

Love it - but one question.
How did you remove the plaques from the dressers before painting? I've got some I'd like to remove, and I'm afraid I'll bend them. What tool did you use?

courtney said...

wow. just wow. you've done it again, jenny!

love.

Michelle said...

Looks amazing!!! Fabulous as always!!

Jen @ RamblingRenovators said...

That looks incredible and inspiring (as always) Jenny! Just a question - are the mending flat plates still visible? Or did you mount them on the inside? I can't see them in the finished product. Were they painted to blend in as well?

rosemary said...

Looks like we are puttin our kitchen renovation on the back burner,received four bids last week, two were twice the architect's projections! the others were still well over, i guess that's a good sign for the economy??? Anyways this and your original dresser post are helpful as I need more counter space!love the color, another poster commented on the back and recommneded metal sheeting for the back,i think the dressers back to back would look incredible but realize your aim was to re-use the marble and you might need a long narrow counter in your space. Plan to show this post to my hubbie as a way to 'improve' our kitchen until it can be ripped out, biggest fear with a 1906 house is what 'unknown' items are yet to be discovered! Thanks for this post it's helping with a stressful time.

Jessamie Vincent said...

This is beyond incredible! I'm dying to paint something high gloss in my home right now! Have you used the Rustoleum high glass enamel spray paint on furniture?

Loren said...

Love the island, what you've put together really looks nice. The color & the nail heads really pull it together. Classy & modern.
We rent and our kitchen isn't NEARLY big enough to pull off an island.

chinadoll said...

I am the huge fan of your blog!! very practical and inspiring ! Like this kitchen island .. so unique , however you didn't mention how to get marble top on ?

tricia @ mash-up chic said...

wow, love it, and knew I would from the title of this post. Awesome job!
Trish
www.mash-upchic.blogspot.com

YummyJack said...

That's seriously to die for.

Lauren said...

I love this!! It looks perfect for your space!! I just used a very similar color to turn an old dresser into a console in my home! Now I want to paint everything that color. Ha!
http://midsouthstagers.blogspot.com/2012/02/styled-console-and-new-pillows.html

Catherine Wagner said...

This is absolutely brilliant. I absolutely LOVE your style, and they way you keep your apartment looking so fresh with new projects! How did you secure the counter on top of the dresser? And what did you do with the old lovely one? If I lived in NYC I would make you an offer :)

Splendid Sass said...

You did a fabulous job! I love the gray. It looks like a new campaign piece.
Happy Thursday.
Teresa
xoxo

Molly @ The Nesting Game said...

Your island really is gorgeous. I love that you've repurposed that marble top over and over again. Gotta hold onto the good stuff!

We extended our island with a butcher block top. The original island was small and on wheels and pretty dinky, but we needed the storage. So we added a large top and 2 legs to it. It filled in some dead space in our kitchen/fam room, plus it seats 4! We love it and it's the center of operations in our home now.

You can see it here:
http://thenestinggame.com/nest-tour-2/nest-tour-kitchen-and-family-room/

Erin | Holtwood Hipster said...

Couldn't wait to see how this turned out! You never cease to amaze me! Beautiful job!

rachel kirk peterson said...

LOVE islands! your kitchen is stunning. what material is your backsplash made of?

Kristen said...

Yet another amazing project! Love love LOVE how the island turned out. I'm constantly amazed at your ability to make DIY projects look so expensive & flawless. Great job!

Jennifer L. Griffin said...

Gorgeous! You are just too clever!

Anonymous said...

You are such an inspiration! I'm always wowed by your projects, which are far more interesting than the expensive purchased versions. It's nice to see that you don't need a large budget for a lovely home just good taste and DIY ingenuity.

Diane James Home said...

WOW - so gorgeous, chic and original! Your creativity is genius and I so wish I had more. Thanks for sharing this wonderful project, Cynthia

sarahelizabeth said...

Wow- this looks amazing!! I cannot wait to have a kitchen large enough to have an island. SO impressed.

christine {bijouandboheme} said...

Your island turned out fabulously!!! I'm a giant campaign in the kitchen fan too and am so happy with my island version- brass and grey is just soooooo yummy! Great job!!

laxsupermom said...

It looks amazing! I love the color you chose, and the hardware looks terrific! It makes me want to steal my parents guest room campaign furniture on our next visit. ;-) Thanks for sharing.

Kristin@o.m.Gee! said...

unbelievable! your projects are so innovative! and they always leave me feeling inspired to tackled a new project myself!

Tokyo Jinja said...

Another home run Jenny!!! Wish I could add it to my post about repurposing things for kitchen islands - I already included the previous one you made! Love this even more!

Jenna at Homeslice said...

Oh wow. It's beautiful! I love the color and the brass hardware (both the old and new)... really gorgeous. So glad you made it work!

kimberj said...

This has to be one of the best Redo's I've seen! I absolutely love that smokey grey. We just sold our home and are currently looking for a new one. No doubt I'll have to rehab the kitchen and you've just given me the idea I needed!

Gigi Hicks said...

I have the same question as Karen, how did you pull of the plaques? I have a campaign desk I want to paint and have been struggling on how to take them off!

www.enemyoftheaverage.wordpress.com

Jenny at LGN said...

Hi guys! Thanks for the nice comments!

Jennifer - I painted right over the mending plates and then put the brass corners on top of the exposed ones. There ended up only be two exposed ones though, all the others were on the inside.

I just used a big flathead screw drive to get the original plates off for painting. It's super easy and does not warp the brass at all if you only pry right near the brads. Though, even if you sort of mess up and bend the brass, it lays flat right again once you tap in the brads on the chest again!

Hope that helps!

xx

Jenny at LGN said...

Oh and I forgot about the counter questions -

Mom23, the angles are a little funny here and I should have adjusted before I took photos, but the top does fit, but there is absolutely no wiggle room! I used a salvaged piece of carrara from a vintage coffee table, so this fit would not have been my design. It was just me taking advantage of two pieces of vintage furniture I could refashion for almost no money. If I were paying for my contractor to make this island, it would have been 5-6k. It would have been gorgeous, but I'm happy with this close to free version for now!

Also, I didn't do anything to secure the marble top. It weighs a million pounds, so it doesn't slide at all.

Elizabeth @ The Little Black Door said...

Incredible!! It is perfect!!

Jen West Design said...

You scare me. In a good way.

Brittany Simmons said...

Love it! But most of all, LOVE your rug! Where'd you find it?....and please don't say a flea market....:\

Katherine @ Grass Stains said...

Jenny, you never cease to amaze me. Truly. This is beautiful, and I'm not even a huge fan of campaign! *gasp* LOVE. LOVE.

Lauren said...

This is a great project! However, I have to confess that I think I actually preferred your previous island -- the little legs were so adorable and the marble top seemed to match the piece better. But I totally get a girl's need for change and some functional drawers!

Krissy said...

I can't believe that I never thought to do something like this before! It's such a great idea, using a dresser or in this case two dressers to make a kitchen island. It's genius!

Slipcover Chic said...

What a beautiful job you have done...perfect!

Katie O said...

wow. that's so freaking awesome!

kelly@refresheddesigns. said...

This is one of the best DIY's I have seen. What a fantastic idea for an island, I love your gray and blue colours. (I too have recently come to love nailheads!)

Eliza said...

you are a diy super star!!

Eliza said...

you are a diy super star!!

Anonymous said...

This is fabulous! Great work! I know it probably doesn't make sense to flip it 180 degrees from a functional standpoint, but I think to have the most beautiful side be hidden most of the time is kind of sad. Can you jazz the back up a bit. It just looks so plain, especially knowing what is on the other side, especially if visitors to your home don't get to see that other side. You are seriously awesome & thank you for sharing all of your beautiful projects. The world would be a better place with more generous & beautiful people like you.

Soy said...

That looks great. Love the color choice. Maybe, when the hubby and I decide to redo our kitchen, I'll look back to this for inspiration.

Leslie said...

What a transformation! I love it!

mrs. V said...

Inspiring as always. We have a butcher block island that my husband's parents made for us as part of a wedding gift. The wood came from very old trees from their family farm. It is a little more chunky than I ordinarily go for but it is so special because it was a labor of love. They designed it with the intention of putting heavy duty casters on the bottom but felt it would be too high. In the same post you will find a shot of a pelmet I made for my daughter's room based on your tutorial from way back when!

http://chezviviv.blogspot.com/2012/03/life-at-chez-v-details-are-everything.html

Avery Leigh Cox said...

You are a genius! Im so impressed always by your creative do it yourself budget friendly projects... how do you come up with it and how do you find the time? Truly amazing work...
Cheers!
Avery
www.ornamentalhabit.com

Shannon said...

Thought I would throw in my two cents. I loved seeing everyone's different islands, how fun! I liked the idea of using furniture for an island, like dressers, but we had the opposite problem, we had a really large space to fill that had to double as a dining space, so we installed a massive, 8x 4 ft. island that seats 8-14 people! I love it! You can check it out here:

http://www.11thandshannon.com/2011/12/house-tour-main-area.html

Shannon

casey at loft and cottage said...

Unbelievably great!

{Liana} said...

Inspired by your love of campaign style! I've been trolling Craigslist for a dresser to spif up!

Glam at Home said...

Love it!

Marthe Guro said...

wow! love it! your blog is awesome!!

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

Your ingenuity is also inspiring, Janell

Pine Tree Home said...

Like how you added the feet to make this a substantial island. Reusing something old and repurposing it to fit your needs is awesome. I didn't have enough money in my kitchen budget to order cabinets for my island, so I made one out of our old cabinets, trimmed them with beadboard and chunky trim. Couldn't be happier.

Pam @ bibbidi-bobbidi-beautiful said...

Gorgeous! I would love to add an island, but there's just not enough space for one in my kitchen- it would really block the flow to the table and the fridge. I love the smoke grey! My kitchen table is the same color. Just be careful not to scrub it with anything too rough (like the scrubbie side of a sponge) or there will be a little dull spot in the finish. I learned the hard way when I tried to scrub off some dried-on jelly :(

Brianne said...

This is insanely gorgeous! I am getting ready to use some oil based paint on my campaign dresser and have never used it before. Did you use any type of protectant or top coat with the oil based paint? Thanks!

Emilou said...

One idea is to make the back chalboard paint so your kids can sit and draw while you cook...

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