I was going to call this post “An Island Dilemma,” but the English major part of me knows full well that a dilemma is a decision between two bad choices, and I honestly think that all of the choices I’m about to present for your consideration are (potentially) good ones. Hence the “quandary.” (Which, to be strictly accurate, still refers to a “difficult situation,” which…this isn’t. But enough with the semantics).

So, in case you need a refresher (or never saw it), here is the inspiration board I put together for the kitchen in the new house (for someone who names everything, I really should have a name for “the new house” by now…feel free to throw some suggestions my way).

kitchen design

It’s kind of fun to look at this and see which elements have stayed the same and which have evolved. The sink is different (although still a farmhouse silhouette). The lights are different (went with these during a Black Friday sale, and they finally came last week and are lovely). The faucet is the same style but wall-mounted and in chrome. And for the hardware, I’m pretty sure I’m going with these:




(Except they would both be the satin brass color of the knob from above).

They’re a super-reasonable price for real brass (holds up better; doesn’t discolor as easily as the zinc alloy versions), and they actually carry them locally, which is awesome because I’ve discovered that I’m pretty picky about the shades of brass that I do and don’t like (anything too green or yellow is a no-go), and these are a gorgeous soft gold in person.

Oh, and I must have had that rug embedded in my subconscious because I had completely forgotten that I’d included it on the board, and I still ended up buying this nuLOOM arrowhead design in a runner (on suuuuper sale) during Black Friday.


Shaun saw this and looked confused, since I’m usually a floral girl. Not sure why I’m digging the tribal arrows so much, but…I am. So there.

The subway tile is still in the plan, as are the open shelves and wood range hood. The range actually ended up being rangeS, since I found an awesome deal on not one but TWO 30″ pro-style GE ranges with dual fuel (we wanted a gas stove and an electric oven).

Oh, and the color I’m leaning towards for the lowers is actually called Weekend from the Magnolia Home paint line. But I’ll probably just have it color matched because their paints are pretty pricey.

weekendOh! And not mentioned or shown above…but we’re 99% sure we’re going with laminate countertops in Wilonsart White Carrara with a velvet finish.


Now that you’re all up to date on the minutiae of my kitchen choices, let’s get back to the quandary (dilemma…decision I have to make…whatever).

And that would be: what color to paint/stain/make the island.

Which, by the way, has turned out even prettier than I’d hoped.

island1It’s just under 12 feet long, so it’s a bit of a beast. But, as excited as I am to put her to work, what makes me a little swoony are all of the fun decorative details like those corbels, the curvy legs, and the carved panels on the ends–all of which I chose/designed not feeling entirely sure that they would turn out well together. Happily, they did! At least, I like them. So, that’s good. (And the base trim isn’t even on yet!)

Here’s a shot back towards the sink/windows.

island2And another from the other side.

island(Those drawers are removed because they forgot to include a spot for an outlet, so that’s getting fixed).

So, now that you’ve seen pretty much every angle of my kitchen island, what do you think?

Should I stain her? (That’s been the plan all along). If so, what color? (My stools and floors are both a medium oak tone, and I don’t want anything tooooo matchy-matchy).

Another good option would be white-washing, which would allow some of the wood grain to show through without committing to an actual color.

I’m disinclined to paint her, although, if I did, it would be white, since we will have white uppers, and there’s enough going on with the teal lower cabinets that I don’t need a competing color on the island.

Whatever I do to the island I’m probably going to replicate on the range hood to keep the tones in the kitchen consistent. So, this decision is a bit of a double-whammy.

Oh! And if it will help you to make an informed decision, if you scroll up and look at the side view of the island, you’ll see the stained hutch in the background, which will be against the wall between the dining room and the kitchen. The color it’s stained is a little more orange than I’m willing to go with the island, but I like the medium range it represents.

Any thoughts? Suggestions? Specific stain names I should test out?

You know I love a good reader poll, so hit me with it!






  1. Personally, I would paint the island white but do your range hood in the natural wood colour pictured in your mood board. This would allow the range hood to really be a focal point without having too much going on and allowing the rest to take more of a backseat.

  2. My personal favourite stain is American Walnut. It’s so warm and earthy and inviting. A light, and potentially fun non-traditional wash would be grey or greige. Grey would could tie in blue tones from your teal lowers while giving the eye a visual break with seeing the wood grain underneath. Greige would be a beige-grey that would tie in with your hutch. From a graphic perspective, the eye expects to see lighter colours higher up, and darker colours lower. If you were to choose a dark colour for the whole island, it may not be the best choice for your hood ranges.

    But my dream for your island is not a solid colour. I would love to see the corbels, curvey legs, and the beams between them a warm walnut stain, and the main base a coloured stain (maybe a teal stain exists??). Can’t wait to see what you pick!

  3. I vote that you stain it with a deeper/richer antique brown that will compliment the oak and beautiful lower cabinet color. 🙂

  4. Have you considered colored stains? Behr has a line that has some nice colors and you can choose between sheer, semi-sheer, and solid. They have a nice white stain named, “Navajo White” that has a gray base to it. I’ve used that several times in sheer coverage which gives the whitewash effect but the ease of stain. They also have a nice cool mint color that would be my personal choice for this project. I can’t remember the name but in the sheer it’s near a whitewash but with a very subtle green. It also has the advantage of allowing the wood grain to show through with that coverage choice.

  5. I almost hate to see that gorgeous wood stained anything other than a honey-ish color! Though, whitewash would possibly tie everything in, but it would have to be a washable white considering all of the many hands you have in your family!

    Are you going with a stained concrete type of flooring like Mandy and Rob did? Or are you going to do a salvaged wood type flooring?

  6. I think a whitewash (or white paint!) would really tie together the elements of your kitchen! It seems like with two different colors of paint on the cabinets, and the wood elements of the floor/stools/etc – it could get really busy if the hue’s of the stain were even slightly different. So yeah, I definitely vote for whitewash/white paint.

    What a showstopper of an island!

  7. I know you have painting the lowers in your mind, but that island IS a show-stopper. Not sure if you’ve remotely considered painting her “Weekend” and leaving the lowers white like the uppers, but that’s my $.02. If not, what about a light gray? You could stain or paint and it would be complimentary without being too overwhelming. Additionally, the gray wouldn’t necessarily show as much dirt as white would.

  8. Hmm… if that were my island I would want it to look like it had been there forever or was salvaged- it’s a real show stopper!!! So I would stain it – and would try to find the most antique-y stain I could find. White wash is a bit too “new” for me. White would look beautiful but a wood stain would really pop against that teal. It is a beautiful island!!

  9. I miss doing these with you!
    So fun!
    After seeing and reading about the lovely details… I really think you should go bold!
    I love seeing your personallity in all your design projects!
    Playing it safe with a whitewash would look beautiful, but it wouldn’t anchor that kitchen like a bold color would…
    In my minds eye I keep thinking “Patina”

  10. If you white wash, will it pick up stains and what not from MSHs (*many small hands)? If so, I’d go with white, washable paint.

  11. I have no idea what to do with the island, but I had to chime in to say I saw that Magnolia color, “Weekend”, a few days ago as I was looking for a pink paint color and it just struck me so I grabbed the swatch. I don’t have a clue when or if I will ever use it, but I just loved it! Glad to hear you love it too!

  12. With two colors of cabinets and the stain on the floor, I think an additional stain or paint color will be too much. I vote whitewash to keep things light and tie in with the upper cabinets while allowing the wood grain to show.

  13. White wash is my first choice. They do make some awesome colored stains though, and maybe or close to your cabinet color?

  14. I’d stain it. You probably paid more for stain grade wood anyway, and you could always paint and possibly distress later. PLUS, stain will hide “evidence” of LOTS OF USE lol! I personally like a walnut stain for most things. To me it doesn’t have a yellow undertone like some stains do. Good luck, it’s beautiful!

  15. I vote white or whitewash. Beautiful piece and enormous. White will keep the open/lightness of the space with such a large piece.

  16. I love the direction that you are going with this lovely space. Having followed your blog from the days of Five Days Five Ways, it is clear that you love color and aren’t afraid to use it

  17. I think that since it’s such a behemoth, white would be the way to go. I’ve not had a chance to see “velvet finish” laminate yet, but I bet it will lend a lovely honed sort of feel. I’d love to try it on my teeny island. I’ve always been wary of the textured laminate because it seems like it would be more difficult to clean (no personal experience on that, though). I have had shiny smooth laminate in several homes, and always found it to be quite durable. Just out of curiosity, what sort of edge are you doing on it? If it’s not a factory edge, I’ve seen some interesting tutorials for making the tiny dark edge of the seam disappear. It’s looking great so far! When you start selling tickets for the house tour, sign me up!

  18. I picture a really light honey stain with your farmhouse look. I looked up a few pics on Pinterest. Like the color of these countertops: https://homemadeinheaven.blogspot.co.il/2012/09/kitchen-of-week_27.html?m=1

    I know that’s not an actual stained cabinet. It is just the first picture that popped up that had the color in my mind I was thinking.

    However a light whitewash would be really pretty too.

    Double check the island and hood are same woods so will stain the same colors.

    Whatever you pick will be awesome.

  19. Depending on the flooring (did I miss it?), I would go with whitewashing a darker stain so that the grain shows up but it wouldn’t be stark white either. Love the island and your new house and following your family adventures! God bless you all.

  20. How exciting to see it coming together! My preference would be to paint it white.
    Also I’d be wary of the wilsonart counter material if it doesn’t have texture, any smoother laminate will scratch like crazy!

  21. Everything is so beautiful! Love all the colors! (I’m a floral girl myself, but give me enough color and pattern and I can dig a geometric.)
    My personal preference would be to have the island stained a dark-ish tone, near the hutch color. I think the darker color and contrast from the range hood with the white cabinets would provide a nice balance to the teal and dark of the lower cabinets and island. Of course, this is all easy for us to say, since we aren’t making the final decisions or living with it “forever.”
    Thanks for sharing so much fun with us!

I love hearing from you guys!