If it fits in the car_Finished Island_with filterOne non-negotiable on my “turning a house into a home list” was the desire to have a quaint eating space that could also double as a “lunch-making, holiday-cookie-rolling, do-your-homework, sit-and-gather-over-coffee” spot. After cramming odd-sized tables into a half-baked version of what I really wanted (and knowing most pre-manufactured kitchen islands were either out of my budget or too big for my small kitchen), I decided to expand on a kitchen island cabinet purchased some years back that due to its lack of an overhang served only as an uninspiring spot to prep food.

I knew it was a simple upgrade – just apply a larger top to the existing base that would create a space ample enough to seat 2 adults comfortably on each side. Inspiration struck one Saturday morning as I wandered through the aisles of the New Castle County Habitat for Humanity Resale Store, in the form of old cabinet doors.  They were long enough and wide enough that when applied to the existing base I had at home, would create about 8 inches of an overhang. And the best part of all? They were on sale for a mere $5 each. Can I get a “repurpose-jackpot” high five?

In nearly one weekend and with less than $50, I was able to construct the completed island which has quickly become a favorite family hangout.

Materials Used to Make “Distressed Barn Door” Kitchen Island Top:If it fits in the car_Doors Before

  • 4- 49.5” x 17.25” single cabinet doors
  • 4- cans of “Paint & Primer” spray paint (2 dk brown; 2 light green)
  • 8- 1” corner braces / “L” brackets
  • 6- 3” x 5/8” galvanized mending braces
  • 4- 8” x 1 ½ x 5/16” wood shims
  • Tube clear paintable latex bathroom / kitchen caulk, or clear silicone caulk for wood
  • Small can satin finish, water-based polyurethane
  • Medium grade sandpaper
  • Wood putty


Island Top Instructions:

If it fits in the car_Existing Island

Existing Island(before)

Remove existing hardware from doors and fill in any holes with wood putty, before sanding the entire surface smooth. (If you are staining the top a new color, remove all existing stain or paint.) Wipe clean with damp cloth.

In a well-ventilated area (outside is best) spray paint each door with 2 coats of dark brown, allowing each coat to dry completely then applying 2 coats of green. When spray paint is completely dry, sand (I hand-sanded) each door to achieve distressed look. In some spots I took the paint down to the wood, in other areas just down to the brown paint. Remove all paint dust with damp cloth. Apply 3-4 coats of polyurethane to each door (allow each coat to dry completely before applying theIf it fits in the car_Island Doors Painted next).

When doors are completely dry, place them on a flat surface face-down and side by side. Attach mending braces, evenly spaced from top to bottom to connect the two doors as one piece. Please note-You will need two people to turn connected piece over once doors are joined together as they will still be unstable until applied to base.

I chose not to permanently attach the top to the base of the island because I wanted to be able to remove the top to fit through kitchen door should we ever move. Instead I attached the top to the base by securing with the corner braces (applied underneath) to each of the 4 corners, plus one on each side of the island for added stability. To decrease any gap between the top and base caused by the mending braces, I inserted wood shims between the two (two on each side), adhering with wood glue on bottom side only. To finish, I applied a light strip of clear caulk down the center where the doors were joined to minimize crumb collection. In the future, I may have a piece of recycled, tempered glass cut for the top for easy clean up, but for now, I love it as is.


If it fits in the car_Finished Island

The Finished Island


Logo_If It Fits In the Car_Lynn_CasnerAbout Me(Lynn Casner)

I am, what I hope is your typical mom. Some mornings I am so on top of it – I am up before the birds, I’ve created cookie-cutter shaped lunches nestled neatly in matching containers, my daughter is dressed and ready 20 minutes ahead of schedule, nary a booger or dirty finger nail in sight. Other mornings however, I am running around the house in my bathrobe ten minutes before we have to be out the door, cramming leftovers into plastic bags and drying underpants with the blow dryer because I forgot to take the clothes out of the washer the night before.

In an effort to keep the latter the exception, I try to live by one particular motto, which is “Never reinvent the wheel.” If someone has built, baked or created something as good (or better) than I would have, I grab it, run and put my own spin on it.

My DIY projects follow the same rule of thumb. Some of my ideas are new but for the most part, they are just my “spin” on something that has inspired me somewhere. Whether in my daily travels, wandering through thrift shops, thumbing through magazines, braking for that must-have object set out for the trash on the side of the road and/or of course from other DIYers(compliment). I hope that something I have repurposed will be inspiring for others to grab, run and put their spin on it too.

Happy Repurposing!

Lynn Casner

Follow Lynn on Facebook @ If it fits in the car

Please look for my new DIY blog, “If It Fits In the Car…One Mom’s Guide to Repurposing Other People’s Stuff,”coming soon, for a more in-depth view of my projects featured here on NorthDelaWHEREHappening.