How to Fake A Kitchen Island Waterfall Edge


When we bought this house in August we didn’t plan on redoing the kitchen right away. But once we spent a few hours in the house and realized we could build a kitchen in phases paying cash as we go, we started knocking down walls. Here’s what we started with. 

I’ve never planned a kitchen before and it shows. Lucky for me I’m an imperfectionist. My three majors for the kitchen were natural light and white spaces, a big surface and a place to sit and gather. When it came to detailed design choices, I had to make that up as I went, I’ve learned that those things usually work themselves out.

My dream kitchen island would have a waterfall edge. Meaning that the counters would take a turn down the edges of both ends of the island and stop at the floor. Like this…

waterfall edgeK. Marshall Designs

But when it came time to pay for that, I wasn’t sure I wanted to pay almost twice as much for our counters. We have white quartz and it’s not too expensive but it wasn’t cheap. And since I was doing white on white anyway, I wondered if the expensive counter would even be appreciated if I used it for the edges. So when it came time to measure for the counter top, I had them leave enough overhang that if I wanted to add the waterfall edge later made from the same quartz, it would fit seamlessly. So my overhang on the is the same thickness as the counters. That made perfect sense in my head.

kitchen island waterfall for less

We lived with it like this for a month or so as I tried to decide a way to fake a waterfall on the edge of the cabinets.

how to finish the ends of a kitchen island

Finally we just grabbed some 3/4 inch MDF, measured and cut to fit, and nailed it up and painted it. It wasn’t the perfect solution and I could have bulked up the thickness by adding another sheet to line it up perfectly with the corner edge of the counter, but first I just wanted “to see” “for now” if we would even like it.

easy kitchen island waterfall

I primed and painted it.


And painted the inside edge.



And here it stands.

kitchen island with a waterfall

We saved almost $1000  by not purchasing and extra 24 square feet of counter top. I can deal with the rustic imperfection of it all for that kind of money. Besides, I think our Viking Range back there is the showstopper of the kitchen, no one’s focusing on my island edges anyway, they are too busy being dazzled by the brass dials on our range. Since all the arrows are pointing to the range, the island edges just disappear.

Decorating is like placing arrows around. “Look here. And now here.” And anything you don’t want to see you either don’t put an arrow pointing to it, or you simply put an arrow in front of it. And anything you want to accentuate, you make sure it has a big arrow.    —good enough Christmas decorating


Viking, still on a dolly, don’t ask. Dots made possible by the disco ball.

waterfall island

We still have lots of work to do in the kitchen: finish the ceiling, paint the wood windows (Chad won that decision) put a final coat of black in the niche and add shelves, tile the inset behind the range and hood, refinish the floors, replace the molding. And then there’s phase two of the kitchen, adding more cabinets on the refrigerator wall. But for now, this kitchen is already more user friendly than it was when we moved in.

PS, here’s my kitchen pinboard with lots of ideas for a modern rustic kitchen.

More on our kitchen lighting

More on our kitchen with some sources


Here’s our floorplan-ish it’s not exact but you get the idea.

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  1. Wow! I just can’t believe what a big kitchen you’ve ended up with compared to the tiny kitchen you first had in this house. Did you share a before and after floorplan of the kitchen? I’d love to see how you worked in such a big island. We have a (not as big) island in our kitchen and I love being able to face out into the room when I prepare meals. I feel so much more a part of what’s happening around me. Love what you’ve done already and can’t wait to see how the rest of the room develops!

  2. We have the same cabinets in our kitchen and I love them! Though my kitchen is not nearly the size of yours, I would love to have that big island you have created. I think you made a smart choice saving the $1000+ on not using the quartz on the sides. Now you have that money to put into phase 2!

    • I LOVE the island. it’s 3.5 feet wide by 10 feet long! Still saving for phase two, actually we’ve decided to focus on my office and maybe the barn next, I’m ready to have some craft days!!!

  3. I can’t see the Viking!! (I said that in my best whiny voice!) I’m planning my Ikea-in-stages kitchen upgrade. It’s fun to think and dream, and then find the solution you need.

    • you are so right, just added in a pic! man, this is what I get for taking sleep medicine while I have a cold and sore throat, I’ve edited this post 123 times!! I keep forgetting things!

      • Vavava voom! There she is! And her Easter bonnet (or vent hood) is pretty fab too! Sorry you’re not feeling so festive. Put your feet up and dream about your craft space!

  4. It is already beautiful. Simple and beautiful!

  5. Love the dots! I bought a disco ball after admiring yours forever!

  6. Love how that disco ball keeps on bouncing around your house!


  7. It looks gorgeous, M!! I love how it is all coming together. It seems like it flew by but, having renovated a couple of homes, I know it does NOT seems like that when you are living on the middle of it! I love seeing your updates. :)

  8. Love your kitchen and the direction you have gone with it. Love that you are going in phases – gives me hope that, eventually, I’ll be able to do a few upgrades! Also, I too have a disco ball because of you. I think that means you are the disco queen, or something like that :)

  9. And how do you like the IKEA cabinets???? I think they look sleek, modern and beautiful! I love the way you make a major reno so real for those of us that don’t have 75-100K to DROP on custom everything BUT still have style and taste and want our home beautiful! Thank you for making us feel ok.

  10. Honestly, I must be silly because I can not understand what you are showing…it looks the same…like a said I must be silly.

  11. My husband and I are in the process of buying our first house (a small fixer upper) and one of the things that we hate about the kitchen is that the stove sits on an interior wall (like yours) and does not have a hood. Was it difficult/expensive to add the ductwork or vents that you needed for the hood installation?

    • Sadly, yes, the ductwork was one of the major expenses at $1600. They has to start from scratch, deepen a wall go through our basement with a huge duct & cut through brick & go around framing to do it, plus it’s a commercial style hood with an external fan, a very elaborate set up, luckily we got the hood for cheap!

  12. It looks fantastic, and think of all the other things you can do with the money you saved.

    On a side note – I adore the little recessed area next Monsieur Viking where you’ve hung the cutting boards/pizza peel!

  13. Love love love love it!!! And you are right, that stove says it all!!! Can’t wait to see each step!!

  14. Wow. Mind blown. i did not even know that one could do things with the ends of counters, it had never ocurred to me :).
    Our kitchen needs to be renovated and I resent the idea of spending serious money on it. Gah.
    I will SO come back here for inspiration when it’s time.

  15. I just knew from your very first description of your plans, that I would LOVE your kitchen – and I do :-)
    I have a small aparment kitchen with no view, and I would love to be able to look out of a window when working, but that is not my reality, so I have to work with what I have, and I like it as it is. But one can dream ;-)

  16. love what you’ve done. looks like a great space for sharing meals and more.

  17. Love what your kitchen is becoming! Pretty and practical. Thanks for giving us glimpses into your daily life, and reminding us that it’s okay to be imperfect.

  18. I don’t know why I thought of this, but i will pass the idea along…..what about making your niche into a plate rack? I see loads of white ironstone leaning up in there! In addition to shelves you are adding, you would just need to add a horizontal strips above each.

  19. I have followed your blog for such a long time, but I must say I just don’t know who you are anymore! I miss your toile couch and buffalo checks. I liked your traditional style! Any chance we will see more of that again?

    • I LOVE that you’ve been around for so long, yippie! 4 years ago we slipcovered the toile, so wow, it’s been white for over half the blog. I treat my house like some people treat their clothes, I keep things, but update and change it over time. My house looks different every year, slowly evolving, I’m not sure what I’ll have this time next year, it’ll be 98% stuff I have now, but it only takes paint and a few small things to make a big change.

      Plus, if I still had my toile showing (still have the sofa) what would I have written about all these years? The change actually gives me something to write about, because really, that’s what I do here, is talk about what I’m doing and why I change things in my own home.

      Here’s a post about the slow transformation from toile and checks (pS, I STILL love toile, just got tired of the rich red and gold–but had my eye on some black and white toile just this weekend!! xoxo)

  20. oh man every time i see that recess behind your beautiful stove and niche, i think about the gorgeous tiles at Have you seen them??? Black and white rustic, handmade looking goodness!

  21. LOVE it!! More importantly, I love how you have talked throughout your renovation(s) to spend the money on what counts to you and cut corners on what isn’t important right now. We are in the process of building right now and I cut out major areas in order to get a 36″ gas stove top which to me is going to be the highlight of the whole house. I love your hood and am having such trouble finding one. If you don’t mind sharing, what brand and source did you find it??? Desperate! Thanks -I so enjoy your blog.

  22. Looks great! If you really want a fake out you should make it a smidge thicker so it matches the overhang and use a gloss paint so the shine from the countertop wraps around goes down to the floor. That would take it to the next level.

  23. Are your bar stools from World Market? And have you been happy with them? I love how they look, just wanting them to be comfy too!

  24. your Island looks very nice even without the edging. I think those stools really accent the look.
    I just wonder if they would look more “Homey” if they had an autumn colored cushion or pillow in them.

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