Kitchen Tour

This Budget-Friendly DIY Countertop Doubled This Couple’s Counter Space

published May 20, 2023
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Ocean colored cabinets with gold hardware and butcher block countertops.
Credit: Craig Mackay

Like in many homes, the kitchen is the center of my family’s house. So many meaningful conversations and core memories continue to unfold in that space as the aromas of my mom’s cooking waft through the air. Because it’s a room that’s fostered so many key milestones, I feel that its features should withstand the test of time. 

You can always update your space, but it’s a great idea (both financially and, for me, sentimentality-wise) to invest in materials that’ll last for a long time. For example, my mom opted for stainless steel countertops because of their durability. Similarly, one family living in this beachy Rhode Island home chose dense butcher block countertops for their kitchen remodel — and the result is stunning.

Stone countertops were not in our budget. For us, [butcher block countertops were] the most economical option, and we still really liked the look,” homeowner Jessica Kirby writes. 

Credit: Craig Mackay

Butcher block countertops also caught the couple’s attention because they could install them themselves.

When the couple was considering countertop options, butcher block stood out because of some key reasons, including “affordability, ability to refinish if necessary, ability to install ourselves, and wood looks better with age,” Kirby, who runs a New England fashion, lifestyle, and travel blog, says. She recommends looking for thicker materials that won’t bruise easily (unfortunately, Kirby says, maple will), and won’t warp if exposed to heat, like from being above a dishwasher. 

So, once they landed on butcher blocks to adorn their counters, they got started by gathering all the necessary tools, which included a circular saw, polyurethane construction adhesive, a sander (Festool’s is Kirby’s favorite!), hard wax oil for the finish, a tape measure, a level, a screw gun (and screws!), L-brackets, and wood filler to fill the cracks and screw holes. All in all, it cost the couple around $1,500 for the materials and countertops. 

Credit: Craig Mackay

Once they had the materials, it was time to install the countertops. 

The first step in installing the butcher blocks was to trace the original countertop shape onto the new wood pieces, Kirby explains. Next, they cut the shapes and installed them using the glue and L-brackets with screws to connect them to the cabinets. Once they placed the cabinets, it was time to sand and finish the countertops with hard wax oil. Kirby shares each step of the kitchen renovation process (beyond the countertop replacement!) in more detail on her blog here

“The most challenging aspect was installing an undermount farmhouse sink. We had to retrofit the sink cabinet base because it wasn’t suited to a farmhouse sink,” Kirby shares. 

Believe it or not, Kirby and her partner, Craig Mackay, didn’t only install the butcher block countertops themselves — they also DIYed all of the renovations in their home. “It was a big learning process. We had a very small budget to work with on all of our projects and really tried to maximize our efforts by spending on materials instead of labor,” Kirby writes. 

Credit: Craig Mackay

Even though they encountered challenges during the installation, overall, it was a stunning success. “We love the warmth, look, and feel of butcher block countertops,” Kirby writes. “They’ve been very easy to maintain (worry/hassle free with toddlers), and it’s really nice to know we’ll have them for years to come.” 

The countertops aren’t the only clever DIY project the couple accomplished in their home renovation — they even turned a garage into a bedroom. Check out the full tour on Apartment Therapy. 

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