The only big house project that looms on my horizon is renovating the kitchen here in Ocean Grove. Always an expensive proposition, I don’t want to undertake it lightly. Basically everything has to go – flooring (bad yellowish linoleum), appliances (almond!), and cabinets (1970s) – but I want to replace them with things that feel both special and as if they might have always been here. The key to it all is coming up with a special island that is not from a kitchen cabinet company, whether it be a baking table or my favorite, some kind of repurposed item.

I am not sure what the island in this Swedish kitchen is made from, but I love it and the whole room.

A friend across the street uses an old butcher block that belonged to her grandfather as a small island, much like the one in the photo below.

On the right side of Rachel Ashwell‘s Malibu kitchen, she uses some sort of old counter or bar as an island, with baskets holding supplies on a lower shelf.

Speaking of shabby chic, this painted work table is another favorite.

Striking a completely different note, Darryl Carter‘s kitchen with its gorgeous marble-topped antique table is to die for, although clearly a bit too formal for a beach cottage.

I do love a marble topped island though…The DIY master, Jenny Komenda at Little Green Notebook, has used an old dresser and the marble top from a vintage coffee table to make one of the most stylish (and inexpensive) repurposed islands I have seen. Check out her other recent projects, including the most amazing reupholstery tutorial here.

In my ongoing hunt to complete my house, I spent a full day up at the antique stores in Red Bank, NJ. There are numerous multi-dealer shops with great merchandise, and I’ll be doing a full “Shop Talk” post on them soon. At Monmouth Antiques Shoppes I saw this red industrial cart which would make a funky but functional island.

And while surfing, I did notice this great desk turned island over at Remodeleze.

But the piece I have been obsessing over is this vintage printer’s table currently on eBay. It has an amazing thick slab of a marble top and a few shelves and cubbies.  It even still has its original letter drawers!

I think it would be perfect in creating a kitchen with the feel of Kristen Buckingham’s, but no matter how many times I measure, it is just too big. Unlike her huge beauty, my entire kitchen is only about 9 x 12…

And speaking of the printer drawers, I saw them everywhere at the Point Pleasant and Red Bank antique shops. They have always charmed me, but have really come to my attention of late.

My friend Jamie Edwards, a former Tokyoite, is making these adorable display cases for children from vintage printer drawers, lined with washi paper and custom colored to suit your decor. You can find her EllaBeanBoxes on Etsy.

And another friend mentioned that her mom uses one flat in the narrow top dresser drawer to store jewelry. I found this photo of a great storage solution in my files too.

Ingenious, no?

Image credits:1 & 2. credit unknown, 3. via Cote de Texas, 4.via Elements of Style, 5.Elle Decor May 2008, photo credit: Simon Upton, 6. via Little Green Notebook, 7. via Remodeleze, 8, 11-14. me, 9. via eBay, 10. Elle Decor March 2009, photo credit: Simon Upton, 15-16 EllaBeanBoxes via Etsy, 17. credit unknown.