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Island magic

Sustainable ideas ❋ Te oranga ō te taiao, from Thrive magazine

Hsin Huang creates a chic kitchen island from a tired chest of drawers.

Turn an old set of drawers into a kitchen island
How to make an kitchen island

What you need

  • Vintage chest of drawers
  • Plywood for top and shelves (we recommend at least 18mm thick)
  • Screwdriver and/or spanner
  • Measuring tape
  • Saw and drill
  • Resene EzyFill Quick
  • Sander and sandpaper
  • Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat

Resene tips

Can’t find the perfect wood colour for your DIY? Resene has a wide range of wood stain colours so you can change up the colour scheme. Always do a test patch before applying and go light on the first coat – you can always build up the colour later. Resene SpaceCote products are recommended for furniture DIY. They are low odour, dry fast and are easy to keep clean.

Next month: We didn’t want to waste the drawers, so next issue we show you how to use them to create super-stylish shelving.

Method / steps

  1. Have a good look at the chest of drawers to decide which section you will use for shelving. In the piece we refurbished, the bottom drawers were wonky, but the top drawers were fine. So we kept the top two for cutlery and removed the bottom two drawers. (A)

  2. Carefully remove handles. (B)

  3. Measure the depth and width of the dresser and cut the plywood to size so it will sit on the drawer supports to create shelves. For the top, leave at least 50-100mm overhang on either side, giving you a larger working space. (C)

  1. Our drawers had some unwanted backing we removed. Fill in any holes and gaps with Resene EzyFill Quick. (D-E)

  2. Sand thoroughly to expose the natural wood and provide a smooth surface. (F)
  3. Apply one or two coats of Resene Quick Dry waterborne primer undercoat to the chest of drawers. Sand between coats. Finish with Resene SpaceCote Low Sheen. (G-I)

  1. Lightly sand the plywood shelves and top so they are smooth. Stain with Resene Colorwood wood stain. Read the instructions before starting. Our tip: Apply the stain with a large brush then quickly wipe away any excess with a towel. When dry, finish with Resene Aquaclear waterborne urethane varnish. (J-K)

  2. Drill a hole in the centre of each leg, making sure it is a suitable size to slot in wheels. (L)
  1. Find the centre point of the drawers and attach the new handles. Add extra handles on the side to hang tea towels. (M-N)

  2. Liquid glue the shelf and top to attach them to the new kitchen island. (O)

Download this project as a PDF

Project by Hsin Huang. Photography by Michael Moore. April/May 2021

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Thrive features authentic information on sustainability, mind and body health, garden-to-table living, eco beauty and fashion...

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