Smooth Marble: A DIY Kitchen Island

It is said that the kitchen is the heart of the home and for those of us who enjoy cooking and entertaining, it is also a very hard-working and social space. Storage and utility areas are key in a great kitchen, but with the large amount of kitchen furniture for sale it can be difficult to know what units will best suit your needs.

A mobile kitchen island is a wonderful way to increase work space and because it can be moved, it can easily be incorporated into different rooms as the need arises: as a handy buffet for the dining room or as a work station on the patio for a braai. Give it a touch of luxury by adding a marble top which is not only beautiful and bang on trend, it is also easy to clean and creates a hygienic work surface.

Follow these step-by-step instructions to create your own multi-purpose kitchen unit. And because there is such a wonderful variety of furniture for sale on Gumtree, you will be able to find most of the things you need for this easy DIY right here on the site.

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top before

Search Gumtree for the following:

1x pine work bench with caster wheels, or 2 smaller units like in the example

1x large marble tile, cut to size

2x Towel rails to fit the sides

4x Rattan Baskets

 You will also need:

Construction adhesive (we used Global)

4x Steel Braces (if you have more than 1 bench like in the example)

Paint in a water-based enamel

2. DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top Support

STEP 1: If you have 2 smaller benches, first secure them to each other with the steel braces, 2 under the top and 2 lower down on the legs. This will allow the benches to move in unison when they’re wheeled and prevent movement which might cause the tile to become detached.

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top coated

STEP 2: Remove any old paint from the benches and repair them if necessary. If the benches are new, make sure that they are free from dust and oil by giving them a quick wash with some sugar soap. Paint the work benches in the colour of your choice: we chose trendy matt black. Make sure that you paint a 5cm border along the top surface so that none of the wood will be visible once the tile has been installed.

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top fixer

STEP 3: Using an applicator gun, apply some of the construction adhesive onto the surface of the work bench. Ensure that you create an adhesive line around the perimeter of the bench, about 5cm from the edges, as well as enough adhesive to the center to keep the tile in place.

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top top up

STEP 4: Carefully place the marble tile on top – call in the strongmen to help! Ensure that all the edges are aligned and remove any adhesive that might be showing. Allow to dry according to the adhesive manufacturer’s instructions.

Handy Hint: search for marble cutters on Gumtree to help you cut it down to the correct size!

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top hang out

STEP 5: Fit towel rails to the side of the unit for utensils and dish towels.

DIY Kitchen Island Marble Top basket case

STEP 6: Place rattan baskets on the shelves to neatly hold all your cooking paraphernalia. Now stand back and admire your work!

This kitchen unit has turned out to be my favourite part of our kitchen and I can highly recommend it!


 DISCLAIMER: this post was sponsored by Gumtree South Africa.

My Gumtree House – Kitchen Make-over On A Budget

So you’ve seen my Gumtree bathroom. But that is quite a small project compare to this one. I have to admit, looking back at this, I am completely astounded at what we were able to achieve here.

We were renovating an old farmhouse, and when it came to the kitchen I realized that my budget was going to be blown out of the water. Kitchens are notoriously expensive because they are customized to the space. I simply didn’t have the money to have a fitted kitchen, so I started scouring Gumtree for a possible solution.

When a home-owner upgrades their kitchen, they either sell it online or they give it to the contractor to get rid of – either way, these used kitchens usually end up on Gumtree.

kitchen to be

My kitchen requirements were fairly simple: I wanted to have an L-shaped counter space along 2 of the walls, with top-level cabinets above them on 1 wall and a single drawer unit to go next to the oven. I also needed 3 or 4 doors to go into the sink unit in the scullery. In terms of style, I thought that something a bit more traditional with a simple profile would be nice since were creating a farm kitchen. Pot-drawers and spice racks and things were really a nice-to-have and I decided that if I could find them it would be a bonus. I measured the walls and then started my search – every day for about a month. And then eventually, I found something that could work: someone was selling 9 lower cabinets in 3 sets of 3 doors, with 6 matching upper cabinets over it and a drawer pedestal. I was ecstatic – it was perfect! And even better was that they wanted R3000 for it. I double-checked the measurements and then immediately arranged for pick-up.

Keep in mind, while these units were in a good condition, they were finished in an unfashionable light wood laminate with terrible plastic handles. But the profile on the doors and the overall size was exactly what I wanted. A couple of coats of melamine primer, soft grey matt waterbased enamel and some new hardware later, and they looked brand new and awesome.

hardware update

Configuring the cabinets posed a bit of a challenge, especially at the corner. But with a bit of planning, a skilled handyman (thanks, Dad!) and a host of helping hands thanks to our amazing families we sorted it out (that’s my dad and my sister in the picture by the way!).

prep & install

The tops are Butcher Block Pear from PG Bison and really add to the farmhouse feel we wanted.

counter measures

I added some shelves for cook books in the empty corner and our by now famous printed tile splash backs to complete the look. Click here for the tutorial. 2 butcher blocks provide more works space and the table was the one in our kitchen when I grew up.

new old kitchen

I am still completely loving our kitchen but there are a few things to keep in mind when you want to do this. Here are my top 6 tips for buying a kitchen on Gumtree:

1.Measure, measure, measure. Cutting down a cabinet is almost impossible but you can always hide a gap in the corner like we did with shelves or by extending the counter top.

2. The carcasses of the units are very important – make sure that they are in an excellent condition.

3. Make sure that the hardware is good. While door closers and drawer guides can always be replaced, they are quite expensive so take that into account when you make your final offer.

4. Don’t be concerned with the finish, but make sure that you are happy with the profile, style and shape of the cabinet doors.

5. Updating the drawer pulls and door handles are really simple, even if it’s not the same size as the existing ones. Remove the old handles and fill the holes before you re-finish the units. Then drill new holes and install the new hardware.

6. While  I am sure you can buy used counter-tops as well, they will need to fit perfectly. We bought new ones for very little by opting for post-form tops.

Happy kitchen hunting on Gumtree!


My Gumtree House – Bathroom make-over on a budget

Something not many of you may know is that I renovated an old farmhouse with things I found on Gumtree. It’s true! I had a very small budget and a 220sqm house to upgrade, and since I don’t mind getting my hands dirty, I scoured the online classifieds and went Gumtree-crazy. Windows, doors, lighting, furniture and even the gorgeous Victorian bathtubs I have in 2 of my bathrooms I all bought on Gumtree.

  on tippy toes

Patience is key when you are waiting for people to sell what you would like to buy online, so I bought the bath a couple of months before I found the window. But when you finally find that thing, that one thing that you thought would never come, it’s completely exhilarating! I couldn’t believe it when I found this acrylic Victorian bath for R950. I mean seriously, that’s a steel considering that they retail for 5 times more. And it wasn’t used, it was brand-new, but because it had a dent on the side (the side that sits against the wall!), it couldn’t be sold in the store. With its pretty little feet sitting on a checkerboard floor, it really makes the room.

Gorgeous Victorian

Because I had this whole Victorian theme going, I also needed a sash window of course! The man I bought the corded sash from said it was left over after a building project and sold it to me at a greatly reduced price. This is often the case with building materials – the construction guys are quite happy to just recover their costs or get it off their lots and because they often buy in bulk they get really good deals from the suppliers.

dressed up

The pretty kidney-shaped dressing table I inherited from my Gran. It is quite common to find ball-and-claw furniture on Gumtree though – just type ball-and-claw in the search bar and you’ll get a couple of pages of listings. I painted this one in a matt charcoal waterbased enamel and re-upholstered the seat in a pretty floral and I completely love the way it came out.

Here are my 7  tips for when you are looking for building materials on Gumtree:

1. Make sure that woodwork is in great condition, without cracks.

2.Don’t be too concerned if the glass on a window or door is cracked or missing – that’s easy enough to replace. Just make sure that you negotiate the price then! Which brings me to my next point.

3. Negotiate. I lived in Asia for 6 years so negotiating comes quite naturally to me, but in South Africa it’s not such a common thing. If you feel that you would like a better price, ask. They worst thing that can happen, is that they might say no!

4. If you buy something that comes in parts (like a bath with feet), then make sure that all the fittings are included. All the screws, all the parts, everything.

5. Take the measurements of your room and make sure that the thing you want to buy is going to fit. But if it doesn’t, you can always sell it on Gumtree again!

6. Especially when you’re buying furniture, look for the SHAPE of STYLE that you like. Don’t be too concerned with the finish, you can always paint it, sand it down or re-upholster it.

7. When you go to view the item, ask the seller if they have anything else they want to get rid of. The stunning shelf against the wall is actually a cornice that goes on top of a wardrobe that I found by asking this question.

The things I bought for this bathroom make-over cost me just R1,750 and that’s why Gumtree’s always the first place I look when I need something. Sure, it might take a bit longer to find, but the rewards are amazing. Look out for the next post on my kitchen – this one is quite something!

Happy searching!