A Precursor to the Countertop Post

I’m so stinkin’ excited to finally show you our countertops. That I made. From scratch! Well, kinda. I didn’t grow or cut down the trees.

Last post, I told you the changes and additions we made to our cabinetry, and showed you a peek of some beadboard.

First we needed to do all the finishing touches, like trimming, sanding, nailsetting.

nail set

trim island

Then we added beadboard to the ends of the cabinetry and on the back of the “island” (it’s really a peninsula).

beadboard (2) primer (2)

Once all of that was finished, it was time for counters. Hooray!

I didn’t want granite or quartz. I never like the color options available if the cabinets are white. Never. And I’ve been to every granite yard in the metro. I’ve seen literally hundreds of slabs, as well as all the little sample blocks from the big-box stores. I just don’t love it.

You know what I do love? Marble. But that’s just not realistic. It’s not at all affordable (I need to travel, y’all), and it’s really not practical in a kitchen where you actually cook and/or have children. It requires a ton of upkeep that I’m just not willing to deal with. Maybe someday.

I also like some of the acrylics available–solid surface options like Corian, LG, Formica brand (not laminate), Silestone, etc, etc. But man, they’re costly for what they are.

Rain Cloud by Dupont Corian has always been one of my favorites, but dang! It’s usually $50-$60 per square foot, and I just don’t want to pay that for plastic. I’d get real Carrara marble for a bit more if I wanted to spend that. (There are less expensive acrylic options, but of course I only like the more expensive ones.)

rain cloud

And then there’s laminate (Formica is a popular brand name, but the product is laminate). Nope. We’re not putting laminate counters in at the price point of this house, though we have used it where appropriate. We’re concerned about resale, but we’re not too good for laminate. There are so many beautiful options these days. Check it out. It’s not your grandma’s Formica.

6319 Cafe Azul

What does that really leave? Concrete or wood. Yep. That’s all that’s left. If you don’t want stone or plastic, there are no other options. Not tile. Nope, nope, nope. (But do whatever you want in YOUR house. There are no rules.)

I briefly considered concrete since I LOVE how the boys’ bathroom turned out. But I figured it was a bit too modern for this room. We’re reusing the old raised-panel doors, and I don’t feel like they really work with concrete. But that’s my personal opinion. Do whatever you want in your own home.

Also, I wanted to add a bit of warmth to this all-white kitchen. What better way to add warmth than a rich wood tone?

We used butcher block for the first time in our last house, and I loved it. (We didn’t use it near the sink though, more on that in a later post.) The hubs was a little unsure. Since, you know, everybody wants granite counters. But I loved them and so did everyone else (unless they lied to me).

kitchen after (3)

Besides all that, butcher block is definitely having a resurgence in popularity (though I’d argue that it never really went “out”), so it seemed “safe” to use it again.

So, off to IKEA’s website I went. That’s where we got butcher block last time. Have I told you how much I love/hate IKEA? They discontinued the NUMERAR, which was solid wood. Ugh. Seriously, IKEA?!

They still have a solid wood counter top, the HAMMARP, but it’s barely over an inch thick and doesn’t come in the lengths I needed anyway. They also have some particle board options that have a wood veneer layer, the Mollekulla or KARLBY.

I actually loved the look of that walnut KARLBY, and would have considered it even though it wasn’t solid throughout if it was available in the lengths or depths that I needed.


I wanted to use the same material for all of the counters this time (I used something different near the sink in our last house), since there are so many different areas. We have counters on the sink wall, on the bar, on the built-in buffet, and on the drop zone. I just wanted one material for simplicity. I thought it might get chaotic with multiple materials.

If KARLBY was offered in something deep enough for my “island,” I would have likely settled on it even though it’s not solid wood. Apparently they offer matching veneer strips for exposed ends, so this could be used on a smaller island/peninsula. Somebody use it and tell me if you like it. I’m curious.

So, where else does one look for affordable butcher block? Lumber Liquidators, of course. They stock some pretty affordable options in more common sizes, but once you get up into custom sizes, the prices weren’t all that great. At least in my opinion. I’m frugal.

“That settles it. I’ll make my own, dangit!” The hubs wasn’t so sure. Like always. He doubts my ideas about half the time, but he also supports (and funds) them almost always. So that’s awesome! He’s awesome!

“How hard could it be? It’s just a bunch of wood glued together. I have wood. I have glue. I even have clamps. Totally doable!”

I searched Pinterest first to see if any other crazy people had ever done this, and of course they have. Like, two people. There is nothing new under the sun. Nothing! Well, except iPhones. There’s always a new iPhone. I didn’t actually read the posts (selfish blogger!), so I can’t really recommend a tutorial. I just looked at the Pinterest pics, and they were gluing wood together and holding it with clamps. Alrighty. Just like I figured. Let’s do it!

Remember that pile of wood we tore out of the kitchen?

wood scraps

We removed a wall, a dropped ceiling, door and window molding, and upper cabinets. All kinds of wood. I figured I’d use some of those scraps to save money.

What I saved in money, I more than spent in time. Both are precious. Pick your poison.

Since I was using scraps, I embraced using different woods. I used varying amounts of pine, oak, and poplar.

After the first section, I used more store-bought wood so that I didn’t have to do so much up-front work to get the pieces to be the right size. If you’re going to do this (you totally can!), get 1×2. Don’t use pine; it’s too soft. Oak is good for its hardness, but it’s twice the price of pine. Of course maple or walnut would be lovely also, but I didn’t have any of those in my scrap pile and didn’t want to introduce even more varieties when I started purchasing wood.

If I wasn’t trying to be resourceful or frugal, I’d totally get walnut. I just love it. So pretty!

So how does one go about this? I’ll tell you next time. Because I’m trying to keep these posts short-ish, darn it.


Tell me what you think