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Ikea Hack – Wrapping My Varde Kitchen Island in Bead Board

by Angie on April 8, 2013

how to wrap your island in bead board and loveliness

Some of you have been waiting for me to talk about my kitchen island for 3 years now. Others of you have been wondering if I’ll even write another post ever again forever and never die. Most of you have given up hope of either actually happening. Surprise! Today is the day. Let’s do a dance about it.

Helloooo, friends!

This project is what is called an “Ikea Hack.” That means I took a piece of Ikea furniture and personlized it/modified it to be better/unique/fantastic. See a whole world of Ikea hacks at this website.


In my opinion, the kitchen island is the most heavily-used and important piece of furniture in a home. It is the center of the busiest room in the house. If you walked into my home un-announced anytime of the day, you would most likely find me standing at the island. I watch TV from there, eat there, procrastinate the world of to-do’s there. It’s the boss.

All kitchen islands add counter space. Some kitchen islands are just a tall table in the kitchen (without storage underneath). Some are a big base cabinet in the middle of the room (without seating). I wanted the best of all (island)  worlds.

kitchen islands

source                         source

I wanted my island to serve 3 purposes:

1. Pantry/Storage Space –  My kitchen doesn’t have a pantry, so the storage in the drawers and baskets basically rock my world.
2. Large/Wide Counter Space – Since my counter tops are tiled, I needed a counter top area that was smooth (grout-free) and easily washable where I could knead bread, make sugar cookies, and… paint un-installed baseboards!
3. Seating for In-Kitchen Eating- We eat breakfast, lunch, and many dinners at the island. When we do that, The Manchild and I stand and the kids sit. It’s romantic.

My island, and this project, evolved over time as my style developed and as I procured  funds. Here’s how it went:

The first thing we bought when we moved into the house was an island from Ikea called “Varde.” I went back to Ikea this week to take pictures of how the island looks at Ikea (and how it will look in your home after no less than 4 hours of swear-word-inducing assembly work).

ikea varde hack before

Here is the tag for it.

ikea varde tag

As you can see, the island sells for $379. That’s a lot, in my opinion, for something that is going to be added to and further transformed! If I had the carpentry skills 4 years ago that I have today, I might have built this thing from scratch. But I knew one thing at the time: I needed an island right away and the Varde cabinet was better than the other options I had shopped around for. It’s really long, has 3 BIG drawers, and 2 long shelves for baskets.

When we assembled the island, I did not secure the counter top to the base, because I knew I wanted a bigger counter top than came with it. We just set the counter top on the base and let it slide around a wee bit when we leaned up against it. It was not approved by the “safety patrol.” I don’t recommend it. We used it like that, though, for several months.

Ikea sells a huge piece of butcher block (96 x 37″) for only $195. It’s called Numerar. I eventually saved up enough to buy that piece.


(If you are keeping track, my total cost is now $379 + $195 = $574.)

I ended up moving the counter top that came with my Varde cabinet over on my desk, though, when I assembled that, so I am not sure how to figure that savings into the mix. See the desk? Post here about that.
butcher-block-desk-ikea-vika-artur-trestle-legs 2

–> Back to the kitchen… I positioned the new Numerar top on the Varde base cabinet in such a way that I could fit 4 barstools around it. It is off-set on the base, so that one person can sit on the right side (near the window) and the other 3 sit along the backside.

red bar stools white bead board island

You could get the counter-top cut down to your own dimensions if you wanted to. Sarah, the Thrifty Decor Chick did that and I love the cool routed edge that her carpentry guy  gave it.

Once I decided on the counter-top placement I followed the Varde directions to install the big Numerar piece.

At that point, I decided that I was ready to further-personalize the island with bead board paneling and trim. I had recently installed tall bead board in my dining room and by sheer coincidence the remaining pieces of bead board from that project measured the EXACT height of the island. I didn’t even have to buy new bead board panelling!

beadboard kitchen island ikea varde

As you can see from these pics, the legs on the Varde are not flush with the backing and sides of the island. In order to wrap the island with the panelling, I had to first wrap the island with plywood. (I just lied. Truth be told, I wrapped it with some drywall panels that we had in the basement. Free is good. If I did it again I would use sturdier plywood.) I also removed the stainless steel sleeves that came with the Varde cabinet. They just slide on and off.

ikea hack varde

I applied the panelling with finish nails and glue. I used 2 equally wide pieces on the back and covered the seam with a simple piece of flat trim.

Once the panels were secure, I added a base moulding (I chose this simple rectangular style, but any beefy base moulding would work). I then placed corner moulding on the edges with glue and finish nails.

Let me lay it all out for ya:

how to wrap my kitchen island in bead board and trim

The tricky part was making the front of the island look true to the style of the bead board on the sides and back. Here is what I did: ikea kitchen island hack around the legs

Does that make sense? I used random pieces that looked right and cut them at 45 degree angles sometimes. It’s no science.

(Here’s a handy tip for ya: Don’t let your puppy chew up your handiwork. In order to write this post I had to completely repair these corners before I could take these pics. The puppy (that we only had for a couple months) ate up these corners before I could bark at her. They only look weird and non-perfect) when I lie on the ground and put my camera right up against them (like any sane blogger would do), then post big pics of them on the big ol’ internet. I don’t recommend looking at your stuff this close up in real life. Or assuming that others will ever examine your chewed up corners in real life. This might cause depression or panic. Both are bad.)

Let’s move on —>

I also painted the drawer fronts white and installed drawer handles to match my kitchen cabinets. I didn’t like the handles that came with it.

painting my ikea furniture

Be careful when painting the wood on the drawers (and in on other parts of the Varde cabinets). The wood comes finished with a thin layer of oil/varnish on it and it needs to be sanded and primed well. I recommend the Benjamin Moore Advance paint for painting cabinets. See this post.

I did not paint all the parts of the island. I left some inner parts in natural wood. See here:

ikea hack paint the stuff ya know

I, of course, had to caulk along the trim seams and over my nail holes. Then I painted the whole thing in a semi-gloss white paint that I already had.

And that’s how I wrapped my Ikea Varde cabinet in bead board panelling!

My over-arching advice, like I give for all DIY projects is to consider your goals, make a plan that meets your needs, and then just go for it. Don’t over-think the tiny details. They work themselves out!

Total cost, if I didn’t have the bead board would have been about $600, but it didn’t feel like that, because I bought the pieces over time. And even if that had been the up-front price tag, I think I would have gone for it anyway, because we use and love the island so much!

(Is $600 a lot of money to you? Am I making myself seem cheap? I guess it’s really not that much, for a huge piece of a kitchen, right?

I’ll share my basket storage strategies and secrets with you soon, k? (In Angie-speak that could mean we’ll be talking baskets around Halloween?? ;-)


how to wrap your island in bead board and loveliness

This has been another super serious, official instalment of our “In Angie’s Kitchen” Series. It’s the boss.

angie kitchen 300 x 150

Others posts in this series:

how to add moulding to upper kitchen cabinets

how to de-clutter the kitchen and have open cabinets

how i painted my cabinets chalk paint verses benjamin moore

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{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

Kelli April 8, 2013 at 9:33 am

total awesomeness.. seriously. you got mad skills and I am jealous. If I wanted this I would have to get my husband to do it. i love it!
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Angie April 18, 2013 at 7:32 am

thanks, kell!


Kirby April 8, 2013 at 2:00 pm

LOVE THIS! Angie you are the KITCHEN BOSS! Now come live with me and remake my kitchen….please. I’ll pay you in food and little divas girls smooches from the 4yo and 11mo?!?!?!


Angie April 18, 2013 at 7:30 am

Done. Let’s do this!! Dream job with the best pay! :-)


Miss Kitty April 9, 2013 at 10:08 am

Whoa! What a project! But it looks great and has so much functionality now. Thanks for sharing how you did it.
Miss Kitty recently posted..Trying Webster’s Chalk Paint PowderMy Profile


Alex August 31, 2013 at 9:36 pm

Awesome hack! I’m looking at doing something similar. I notice though that the depth of the Varde counter was 35″ and the depth of the Numerar counter top was 39″ which is only 4 inches deeper yet the picture you have seems to have a lip of way more than that? Maybe the Numerar counter top was a different size back then or are the dimensions you picture in the post correct?


Alex September 2, 2013 at 12:02 am

Forget it – I see your measurements are all correct :-p


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