GROLAND island to cabinet conversion

Materials: IKEA Groland kitchen island

IKEA GROLAND kitchen island

This is the upgrade I just completed on my Groland kitchen island. I’d been using this item as a sideboard in my kitchen, but my wife and I were wanting to upgrade to more enclosed pantry storage – our kitchen is lacking in cabinet space! We rejected the idea of installing additional cabinets on this wall and decided to stick with storage furniture. The Groland island is such a solid, heavy-duty piece that we were reluctant to part with it, so I spent a couple of weekends converting it to an enclosed cabinet.


1. Remove the stainless steel rods with your preferred metal cutting tool – I used a Dremel after the stainless proved to be too tough for both my hacksaw blade (RIP) and pipe-cutting wheel. The leftover holes were plugged with a 1/2″ maple dowel and cut flush to the legs.

2. Cut 3/4″ birch plywood to size for the sides and back. The Groland lines were mostly square, but there was still a little bit of fine tuning I had to do to get these to fit snugly with minimal gaps. The sides were slightly trapezoidal with the bottoms narrower than the tops (by about 1/16″) and the back was slightly narrower on the left side than the right. A bit of sanding and a hand plane helped get everything to fit. These were installed with pocket screws on the interior.

IKEA GROLAND island to cabinet

IKEA GROLAND island to cabinet

3. Cut 3/4″ birch plywood for the bottom to replace the lattice. I notched the corners so they fit around the legs. The front/back and side rails are recessed different amounts, so I used a dado blade on the table saw to recess the underside edges appropriately so it sits flush with the rails on all sides.

4. Now for the best part – doors. I picked up some flame birch at my local lumberyard for the door frames and some 1/2″ birch plywood for the inset panels. The construction is a classic shaker-style door. I sized them so that there would be ~1/8″ gap at the edges, top and bottom, and 1/8″ between the two doors. This is a little bit of a large gap to leave, but because Groland isn’t perfectly square I wanted to leave some margin for error. The doors were clamped and glued overnight.

Glueing the doors together

Door finished5)

Once the glue was dry, I installed the doors with soft-close cabinet hinges. These hinges have some ability to adjust after they’re mounted, which I made use of to make sure everything lined up nicely. Success!

Attach doors to GROLAND with soft closing hinges

It's a success!

IKEA GROLAND island to cabinet conversion

6. Time to make it all look pretty: everything was sanded to 220 grit, wiped with a microfiber cloth to remove the dust, and then the first coat went down. I used a brush-on shellac (Zinsser Sealcoat) for this – it will really make the figure of the flame birch pop and ensure that there’s no blotching on the further coats. It did its job! This coat was sanded lightly with 320 grit and wiped down, then the next coat went down – General Finishes Arm-R-Seal satin polyurethane varnish, applied using an old t-shirt. Three coats of Arm-R-Seal, sanding lightly with 400 grit in between applications to knock off any dust nibs that settled onto the surface. The last coat is left as-is with no sanding.

7. Finishing touches: my wife picked out some knobs for the doors and I spray painted the metal bolt heads to match (Rustoleum 2X Flat Black). The matte black finish on both is a good contrast with the natural wood color and we love the look.

Between the hinges, lumber, and finish supplies, I ended up spending about $100 for the project. Well worth it, in our opinion! Thanks for reading, hope you enjoyed seeing the transformation!

~ JD Myers

Jules Yap