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DIY Kitchen Island Makeover

I am back with some more home reno projects. This time we are working on my son and daughter-in-law’s home. They are military and tend to move every few years and they just relocated to the Charleston area. We told them we would help upgrade their kitchen so they could save big bucks and hubs and I are always up for a project, (well probably me, more than him) but we work really well together. This DIY Kitchen Island Makeover is just part of the kitchen as a whole. I will share that post with you once we finish the final touches on our next trip to Charleston.

image of white kitchen island with board and batten text overlay, board and batten kitchen island makeover
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Before the Makeover

This island is pretty standard in a lot of homes built in the early 2000’s. Builder grade cabinets, laminate, and in an orange/red color. They bought the home kind of sight unseen, and right now,  the housing market is brutal. This was probably the 4th or 5th home they made an offer on, so my DIL knew they would be doing some cosmetic work on it. But all the walk-through videos and real estate photos really do not tell the true story of how much cosmetic work this home needed.

This is the real estate photo of the island:

image of kitchen in a home
Kitchen Island Before

She has a contemporary style more so, than my love of farmhouse, and she wanted a white kitchen. Her goal is to have white and black throughout the home and they are really making progress from that dark blue gray paint in the before picture. (the picture makes it look a lot lighter than it was).

Since I am on Pinterest most of my life…haha. We have been sharing and saving ideas and I was searching for something to make that island pop and not just paint it white.

I found this Pin as our inspiration.Same type of island, except that one was in better shape 🙂  I shared this pin with my DIL and she loved the idea, and we decided to add the board and batten style to the side facing cabinet on the kitchen wall as well.


Planning it out

The sides of the island have this lip from the cabinet facing. It is a pretty standard design. We needed a piece of board thin enough to blend in with that lip. We also had the same situation on the end cabinet against the wall.

3 images of kitchen island before restoration

Home Depot is my go to for anything home DIY. They have 1/4″ x 4″ x 3′ foot plywood boards that fit perfectly with just a small cut for measurement.

With the side panels solved, we decided to bulk up the back of the island with 1″ x 4″‘s on the bottom, top, sides and one in center. You can see when we removed the original trim we had loose boards…this sad island needs our help!

There was also a considerable gap after taking off the existing shoe molding, we knew it could be visible after the 1 x 4’s were up. So we planned to add back all new shoe molding/quarter round around the island.



  • 12 pieces of .25 x 4 x 3 boards (for island sides, and the side cabinet on wall)
  • 3 – 1 x 4 x 8 boards
  • 1/4 round shoe molding
  • Paintable Caulk
  • Wood filler
  • Rotary Sander
  • Medium, Fine, Extra Fine sandpaper discs/sanding blocks
  • Tack Cloth
  • 6 in Paint Roller
  • 2 inch angled nylon paint brush
  • Water-based primer
  • Behr Cabinet and Trim Enamel – Semi-Gloss, Base White (straight outta the can, no tinting)


Tools Used:


Step by Step:

  • Prep Surfaces

You may find some bloggers that will tell you that you do not have to sand before painting if you use a certain product. I am not one of those. Yes, it is tedious, but you want your finished project to last. When you do not sand there is always the change of it chipping and peeling. First, use a good degreaser, we used Krud Kutter TSP substitute to on the cabinets. Once you clean all surfaces you are going to need to sand with a medium sandpaper and your rotary sander and sanding block (for the corners), to rough up the surface layer.

After sanding, you need to wipe it all down with a tack cloth. A super sticky cloth to clear all the sawdust.

  • Attach thin boards to side panels

I always say having the right tools for the job makes life soooo much easier. Hubs and I have learned that the hard way. If you are a frequent DIY’er, I highly suggest investing in a brad nailer. We tried to install wood planks on a ceiling with a hammer and nails, and our sweet neighbor saw us working (probably laughed inside a little) and offered his for us to finish. What a difference!! We went right out the next day to purchase our own.

Ok, so back to the project at hand.

image of kitchen island under construction, adding board and batten

Measure twice and cut once, then attach 1/4″ boards horizontally to the top and bottom of the island. Then attach the vertical boards to the sides. We repeated these steps on the opposite side as well.

  • Attach boards to the front of island

Moving onto the back/front, we are going to call it the front of the island, because that is what will be visible. Again, we measured and attached the top and bottom boards first. Doing it in this manner, all the vertical boards are the same height around the entire island.

image of kitchen island under restoration adding board and batten


The 1 x 4’s were placed level over the thinner boards of the sides.

Measure and attach the left and right vertical boards first, then you will  need to measure the distance between the 2 vertical boards to get your exact middle. Mark the middle on the island. Then mark the 1 x 4’s center as well and line the 2 up flush!

  • Caulk all seams

Every single space you see between boards, needs to be caulked. Make sure to use paintable caulk. This is going to make the boards look seamless and that is the goal. Wait for it to dry according to the directions.

Wood filler does work well for the space where the boards met each other. The filler can be sanded so you have a smooth even finish before priming. Sand again, tack cloth, and get ready to prime.

  • Time to prime

We started with a particular primer that was recommended to me. It was not the usual one I like to use…because they told me it was a “painting system”. Well their painting system fell apart when we tried to add the paint on top of the primer. It bubbled up and left a crackle finish. Thankfully we only tested the back side of a drawer and waited till morning. So, learn from me, do not use Aqua Kem+ from Sherwin-Williams if you are repainting existing cabinets. It was meant for fresh wood, not these types of cabinets.

Use, Kilz water based primer, for easy clean up. Or some bloggers love, Bin primer. Either will be fine. I have always used Kilz and it does the job.

Use a foam or 1/4 in nap roller (6 inch), and a nylon 2 inch angled paint brush to prime. We also used our Wagner Paint Sprayer, but it got messy with the original lacquer based primer. Again…lesson learned.

image of kitchen island with primer coat
Kitchen island after caulk and primer coat.
  • Get ready to paint

Once the primer has dried, it is time to sand again. Grab your tack cloth and wipe down all surfaces. We did a combination of the paint sprayer and roller and brush. The other side of the island had an electrical outlet and we didn’t want to get paint in it. Yes, we could have taped it off, but the roller and brush did a phenomenal job.

At this point it was the next morning and we knew we needed another brand of paint to finish the job. Heading back to Home Depot for the Behr Cabinet and Trim Enamel and some paper for the floors. That plastic wasn’t doing us any favors. The Behr paint had great reviews and we use Behr paint for all our other home projects, so we had hope. We used it straight white out of the can, and did not tint it a color. But you certainly can you would like.

It leveled beautifully as it dried. We used 2 coats, in a semi gloss and has beautiful even coverage over the dark cabinets.

Drying time between coats was 2 hours. We did sand between 1st and 2nd coat with an extra fine sanding block and tack cloth!

Here is the after the final spray coat with the Wagner Flexio 3000:

Beautiful white kitchen island after 2nd coat.

You can see where we put the paper…So much easier to clean up with this paper. Never again with those plastic tarps.

Isn’t she a beauty!!

This is just one part of the whole kitchen reno. That will be in a separate post for the rest of the cabinets.

Here she is in all her glory after clean up the next morning and adding back the quarter round molding for the toe kick.

I just love the board and batten look and my son and daughter in law are in love with their kitchen again!

kitchen island final photo board and batten siding

kitchen island with board and batten

white kitchen after painting
This is the after full kitchen photo, notice the side cabinet with the board and batten as well! (before the doors could be hung)


We can’t wait to finish the rest of the kitchen. Since this visit, they have rehung the doors and drawers, added new hardware pulls, and hung open shelving. Our next trip we will add a backsplash to make the makeover complete!

Until next time, we would love a follow and a share on Pinterest.

You can also follow me on IG, @bloomandgrowmedia, and @freshpromise


before and after photo of kitchen island with board and batten and white paint
Before and After Kitchen Island Makeover, Board and Batten.