Country Kitchen Island

My friend, Lucy, helped us find these old wood corbels earlier this year, and we’re so excited to use them on our soon-to-be country kitchen island:


Right now, the island doesn’t reflect our personalities at all, so we’re going to have fun giving it a farmhouse/cottage-style makeover over the next couple of months.


The new bar top will stick out a little further than the existing one because the corbels are about 4 inches deeper.


I’m excited about that little addition in surface space because we plan to use the bar as extra seating when we have more people over than will fit at our dinner table.

We also plan to replace the existing countertop with something a little more laid back, and then we’ll pick out a cheerful new paint color for the base of the island. We had been thinking that we’d paint the corbels the same color as the island, but now that they’ve been stripped, we’re sort of diggin’ the idea of just sealing them with wax.

What do you think?

PS- The winner of the Handmade Walls e-book is:


Congrats, Mari! I’ll be in touch shortly!


For pics between posts, join us over on Twitter, Facebook and/orΒ Instagram!

Instagram Pic_Lettered_Cottage

Living Room Update - Gray Owl Paint
Handmade Walls

Have posts from The Lettered Cottage sent right to your INBOX!


  1. Andrea says

    ADORE the corbels. I was recently on the hunt for some vintage corbels and they aren’t easy to come by! I’m thinking sealing with wax would be gorgeous but hard to say without knowing what the rest of your kitchen plans are. Ps we just replaced our granite counters and people thought we were nuts lol we went with blue stain pine island and marble elsewhere. I don’t regret it for a second!

  2. Kristen says

    Wow! They’re BEAUTIFUL! A wax finish next to a pop of color would be such a special touch in your kitchen.

  3. R Carey says

    Granite is just so ‘over-done’. It’s possible that someone with your floor plan may want the granite for their kitchen. I have a ton of corbels, just waiting to be used!

    I like the idea of just sealing them!

    • Layla says

      Hi Rachel! We’re going to donate our current countertops to Habitat for Humanity. :-)

  4. says

    Can I just say I’m in love with those corbels! I’ve been searching for something that is rustic and curvaceous like those for our open kitchen shelves. You’ve given me renewed energy to either continue the search or make my own! I love them unfinished. Especially because you can see how it was constructed.

  5. says

    I love them! and I love that you are adding character to your newer home :)

    We recently bought a handmade island for our kitchen. It has chippy old beadboard on the front. I am lovin it…now I am wondering if I should seal it….

  6. says

    The corbels are fantastic! Leaving them natural or painting them – you will know when the time comes. Everything you do is just Lettered Cottage perfection!

    • Layla says

      Well, you are just too sweet Miss Mindy! I certainly appreciate your kind comment and hope that you’re having a great week so far! :-)

  7. Jeanna says

    Sounds great :) Did you ever really do a guest bath reveal yet? All I remember are little bits and pieces………. nothing in depth :(

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Jeanna! And, nope, still waiting on a couple little things (rug & art from a friend), but we’re looking forward to blogging about the whole kit-n-kaboodle in early June! :-) #ThanksForAskin

    • says

      Hi Layla!
      Wow! They are gorgeous!! We just finished renovating and installed an island with butcher block counter top. I would love to add corbels eventually.
      As always, thanks for the inspiration!

  8. Lisa W. says

    OH turquoise would be SO lovely don’t ya think!!! I can TOTALLY see that…yum. Benjamin Moore has a lovely shade I believe:)

    Hope your feeling better Layla!

  9. says

    The corbels are lovely! And I like your idea of leaving them as is (with a coat of wax). Can’t wait to see the finished product!

  10. says

    I cast my vote for waxed. Natural wood is back in style! Re: granite being so last decade — my bf doesn’t believe me when I proclaim that, as they’re still wanting it on House Hunters. Rain Cloud by Corian is a good marble substitute.
    K A Y

  11. Gwen says

    I would paint them. The counter is going to be one color, the island another one, a third for the corbels is too much for me….or else you have to think of repeating the color somewhere else in the room. It might be one of those decisions you have to wait until the kitchen reno start to know what you want. Gwen

    • Layla says

      Hi Gwen! I’m okay with the 3 colors (they’ll definitely all be scattered throughout the first (open) floor) but I agree- we’ll really just need to wait and see once the new counter and colors are in! πŸ˜€

  12. Nancy says

    Knowing how much you love Sarah Richardson’s designs, your corbels remind me of one of her projects where she whitewashed and waxed some vintage cobels so that you still get some of the visual texture showing through. It may have been from her farmhouse kitchen, but don’t quote me. Ultimately it depends on what else you do with your kitchen, but I’m sure with your great taste and sense of style, whatever you choose will be great. Can’t wait to see the finished project.

  13. Judy says

    Beautiful beautiful beautiful! Love it so much.

    Even your old corbels are pretty….much better than ours, which are truly awful, small and unattractively shaped. Your antique corbels are giving me an idea….maybe I could cover over my extemely plain ones with something like that…the way they are constructed looks like you could sort of veneer over an existing small plain bracket possibly?

  14. says

    Love the corbels. I like your counter tops. They look very neutral/natural.
    Looking forward to all of your fabulous changes. Cheers! Rita

    • Layla says

      Thanks, Rita! Yes, the current countertops are very neutral. I guess we’re after something a little more unneutral- LOL! πŸ˜€

  15. clare says

    ah love the corbels – i was struggling to find the name for them the other day when i spotted an old battered pair in a salvage yard , when i asked the price the guy said ‘you dont want to know” 150 euro! – i thought salvage was meant to be bargains! i sadly left them there!!!!

    • Layla says

      Eek! I would have left them behind too, Claire! The three of these (all together) only cost half that much! :-O

      • claire says

        apparently they were solid oak but i was planning to use them outdoors on my newly painted FUSHCIA garden wall to hold terracotta pots of flowers – i settled instead for the most gorgeous white rusted planters that i got from a girl up the road for 3 euro each! score!!!

  16. Cindy Chapman says

    Those corbels are beautiful just the way they are. I just got 2 pair off Ebay myself!

  17. Kim B. in Az says

    Not sure about if you should paint them or not. I was wondering if you guys considered make the whole counter all one level. Having had both I prefer having one big counter rather than two different levels. I loved having the extra space when it was all one level and it was so useful that way. having the two different levels now my counter feels so small and my bar stool are just shy of being tall enough. With it split it does not get as much use as it did at our other house. I also like the openness it provided. Hope that makes sense. Anyway I just thought I would make the suggestion.

    Love your blog.

    • Diane says

      Love them corbels. WOW what a find. I would go with wax.
      I agree with the one level counter. My sister has the bi-level and it’s really hard for kids and short Grannys to reach (good and bad) when she serves a buffet from it. She ends up putting an ugly folding table in front of it when she has salads or whatever with spoons. But, it does divide the kitchen from the rest of the room.
      I don’t like granite either. People look at me like I’m crazy (or jealous) if I dare say that. Give me my butcherblock thank you very much!

      • Layla says

        Hi Diane! We thought about making the island all one level, but the thought quickly passed when we realized we wouldn’t have a place to hide our dirty dishes if the bar top went away! LOL! πŸ˜€

  18. says

    Love this post! We are building a new home and have been looking for home decor and DIY sites to bookmark for ideas. We have met with the “kitchen people” and I’m now learning about all of the corbel options we have…none of which are as great as these. Our decorating budget will be very limited as we focus on our new store, so I am loving your budget-friendly ideas!!

  19. SJ says

    I LOVE those corbels…gorgeous!
    Just going to throw this out there again…I really miss pics of your house. You showed before pics of the house in the “empty” phase, but I’d love to see furniture placement, etc. of the new house now that you’ve moved in…even if it isn’t perfect or how you envision it looking in the future. How about some “now” pics?? Pretty please?!

    • Layla says

      Hi again, SJ. We’re painting the entire living/dining/kitchen area right now, so all of our furniture is under plastic drop cloths in the center of the room- ha! I look forward to blogging about the new wall and ceiling colors when we’re finished and we’ve pushed the furniture back into place. :-)

  20. says

    Those corbels are lovely! I have been looking forward to reading more about your kitchen renovation since you posted that you were painting the walls Gray Owl. I can’t wait to see how it all comes together! :)

    • Layla says

      Hi Angela! I’m not sure yet. My brain only moves two corbels at a time- LOL! πŸ˜€

  21. says

    Gorgeous corbels!
    Tough call on whether to paint or leave as is (and seal). We’re trying to decide something similar… whitewash or paint pine planks on the ceiling (in just an alcove of the living room). I’m leaning towards white (on both the corbels and the ceiling), but either way, think they’ll be pretty!

  22. Anne says

    Love the corbels, have been looking for something like them to replace the simpler ones on the beadboard/pumpkin seed green painted rolling island I designed and had made for my kitchen (the chopping block on top is cherry and I found old carved cherrywood handles on ebay for the island’s drawers and pull-out flour/sugar bins).

    My cabinets surrounding the island are antique glazed off-white, which I did myself. FWIW, I ignored all the granite-geeks’ advice and went with Carrera marble countertops in my kitchen and LOVE ‘EM. If you don’t mind the look of a little wear and tear, they are delightful–I think they are the Sophia Loren of countertops. Sure, they lose a bit of polish over time, but the marble softens and glows, and it all adds wonderful character. My house is 100 years old and while my kitchen has all kinds of modern conveniences, it blends and looks as if it’s been there forever.

    Good luck with your choices!

  23. Sarah says

    Very cool. Color of corbels….think you have to wait and see what the color of the island will be and what the laid back counter material will be. Want the corbels to stand out or blend in more? It is such a fun process. You two always land on your feet!

  24. Bev S. says

    I think you should stain those corbels and then seal them, or perhaps paint them with a little thinned-down paint. They look pretty rough as they are now.

  25. Claire says

    After reading this post last night, I thought about your counter top decision and your style all day. What kind of countertops do you like …in the real world. I have formica countertops and need to replace them. I do not really love the look of granite and I can’t see spending that much on something I don’t like, just because other people do … on the off chance it would help me sell my house. I do not have a high end house. Just curious what you like. I love your style.

  26. Kate says

    I’m not sure I would cover them just with wax, part of the wood is clearly plywood and it looks cheap. Sorry, that’s what it looks like to me. I would paint them white no matter what color you are painting the island. They would then pop and the detailing would stand out. I love the corbels.
    That’s my .02

    • Layla says

      Thanks for bringing another perspective to my attention, Kate! They don’t appear to by plywood when I look at them in person, and the house they were salvaged from was verrrrrry old, but if they are plywood, I guess I’m really digging’ the look of this plywood- LOL! πŸ˜€ The type of wood perspective was something I hadn’t even thought about though- so your .02 is definitely appreciated! :-)

  27. Carrie ~ The Corson Cottage says

    Love the corbels & definitely like the idea of keeping them the way they are after being stripped. Can’t wait to see your island transformation:)

  28. Jenn Nelson says

    I say leave them the way they are. They are a fab find :) Cant wait to see them in their new spot!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  29. says

    I love this! We just bought a house and are doing some work before moving in. We swung by a furniture store last night since they were having a sale and we realized that it was really hard to pick anything out without really figuring out our style. I’m leaning toward rustic/farmhouse since we live in Montana so I love this idea!

  30. Jennifer says

    waxed! i think they would look awesome in their natural color up against a painted island! can’t wait to see what you do :)

  31. says

    Love those corbels! We used some similar ones under our breakfast bar, and I wouldn’t change it for the world!