DIY Antique Dresser to Copper Kitchen Island

Have you even wanted to have a kitchen island but didn’t want to spend a fortune to have one? Or maybe you have an old bedroom dresser with pretty details that you want to transform but not sure how to do it? I have a showstopper idea on how to take an antique dresser and turn it into a stunning kitchen island.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.comIn as much as I love creating DIY projects.  This project was for a client who commissioned me to help her downsize her three story home. She was downsizing from a three story to a one level.  Little did I know how much planning this was going to take, for I assumed I would be arranging the decor after the movers moved her.  Well, the project became more of a general contractor/designer role instead of a stager.  I have more about the overall house and all the great DIY/looks we created on this website.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.comSelecting the Dresser for an Island

While going to my clients home to determine what furnishings she wanted to take to her new home, her neighbor was painting a beautiful old antique dresser in her driveway.   The dresser is solid wood and very heavy  but has 7 drawers!  Perfect for kitchen organization and additional counter work space.

The piece immediately caught my eye and I had to investigate if it was for sale.  It was!  So after determining the price, I talked to the my client about purchasing the dresser.  It was 21″ wide and 72″ long.DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

My client trusts my vision and purchased the piece. for $550.00. The antique dresser was painted white, a nice base coat for the cabinet paint I needed to use for continued use in a kitchen.  No dings or dents in the piece and had beautiful details. The drawers were a bit hard to open and close but a bit of beeswax  or bar of soap helped with the lubrication.

My Vision for the Dresser as an Island

My vision for this dresser included changing the legs and adding old fashioned rolling casters and copper. I chose copper due to color scheme and price.  To outfit this dresser with granite or quartz was going to cost $1,000 dollars and that was simply not an option.  Not only that granite and quartz would have made the solid wood piece even heavier than it was.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

Copper was the solution costing 350.00.  To clean the copper is very simple.  Fresh lemon juice and a soft cloth will remove marks and stains.

How to take care of Copper

I chose hammered copper so there are dings and marks in this piece which adds to the beauty. Copper is also anti-bacterial but will scratch.  If you like the rustic look that will be fine.  However, hot pots or dishes will not fare well, so it is recommended to use chopping boards and hot pads.  I ordered the hammered copper from Grant Logan Copper, Nicholasville, KY.

DIY Steps for Creating the Island

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

I wanted to add rollers or casters to the feet of the dresser so it would be moveable and easier to move for washing kitchen floor.  In as much as I loved the legs of the dresser they were too thin to support the casters.  We removed the legs and added 4 x 4″ wood blocks and table feet to support the casters. The casters and feet were purchased at Lowes. Casters were able to be locked down as well. Although ours were metal casters and not rubber.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

Screws and wood glue ensured a tight fit.

We also added bead board to the sides and back of the dresser to finish the island on all sides.

How to Attach Copper to Island Top

The ply on the copper was 24 gauge and arrived rolled.  To help unroll and flatten, I used sample pieces of granite from kitchen as a weight to flatten heavy gauge copper.

After the copper was flattened, we measured the top of the dresser and cut a cabinet grade board the measurement of the dresser top plus 2″ all around.

The goal was to trowel construction adhesive to the board then attach the copper piece.  That worked brilliantly.  We used tin snips to cut the copper to correct size we needed.  My husband, Doug, troweled the adhesive while I held the copper ( sorry no photo of this process- I was holding the copper- ha ha).

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

It was a bit tricky but we adhered the copper in large sections pressing and smoothing the copper top to the board. Once the entire board was covered, we weighted the copper with heavy samples of granite we had on hand. (You will need something heavy to weight it down so it does not buckle).  After 24 hours, we tackled the sides and edges of copper for the finished look.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

The mark on the copper in photo was the cutting line for the ends of the copper.  We used a rubber mallet, as not to indent the copper and hammered it up and over the edges of the cabinet board top.  You can see in photo that we folded the long edges on both sides of copper first, gently hammering the copper into shape. We did not use adhesive to glue down the edges.  Instead we opted for upholstery tacks, which worked great.

Finishing the Sides and Ends

To finish the ends, as you can see we cut the copper at the corner of the board, hammered it to mold it around the side end of board, to form a well covered square corner. After all four corners were squared, we hammered the board end pieces of copper up over the cut squared edges.

Finally we tacked down the copper with the upholstery tacks.  My board was 1/2″ thick so we had to use sharp tacks as not to go through the top of the copper board.

Copper Island is Finished!

In conclusion, after the copper was smoothed and tacked down, it was time to adhere to the cabinet base.  Using liquid nails we caulked the nails to the top of the dresser base, then used the handy granite pieces to weight it in place.  We also used clamps with wood strips to weight the corners of the island. The wood strips were 2 x 4’s we had on hand to prevent the copper from denting.

We moved the piece into the kitchen after 24 hours.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

Bead board sides and back for completed look. Since dresser is an island it was important to finish the back and sides.  As a finishing touch I added copper knobs and bars to the front of the island.  This has a lot of storage and made a beautiful addition to the kitchen.

DIY How to make kitchen copper island lizbushong.com

Give an old dresser new life!  Create an island.

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