How to Make Timber the Star of your Kitchen Reno

DIY specialist and professional furniture expert Natasha Dickins from Little Red Industries shares DIY tips on how to make timber the talking point of your kitchen.

Customised Benchtop

I love working with wood and when DIYing my recent kitchen renovation I wanted to put a little effort into giving an off-the-shelf timber bench top a handcrafted feel to make it unique.

Before doing anything I opened the packaging and left the timber to acclimatise in the room for a couple of days to help prevent cupping or buckling later.

Measuring up

Then I added my trademark finish by slightly rounding over the squared edges and corners with a router and hand-sanded it with 180-grit abrasive paper. 

To finish, I sealed all over (including underneath) with three coats of Bondall Monocel Gold clear satin varnish, which gives a beautiful matt finish while adding a tough layer that protects from wear and tear. And it looks as tactile as it feels!

After making the cutouts for the sink and cooktop, I also varnished around the inside to make sure every inch was sealed.

Finished bench

If you’re DIYing a new kitchen, it’s worth varnishing the timber features before installing the benches to protect them from moisture damage. Use a tough varnish like Monocel Gold, which is designed for boats so you know it’ll stand up to everyday use.

Shelf pic

Bespoke Shelves

There were some perfectly sized offcuts from the bench, so I made matching display shelves and added little box shelves underneath built from 12mm-thick dressed all round (DAR) Tasmanian oak.

Varnishing shelf

l made up the boxes, countersinking the screws and covering the screw heads with timber filler and sanding. Then I sealed them with two coats of Monocel Gold to enhance the richness of the woodgrain.


Then I installed the shelves with long 60mm screws into the wall studs, dabbing filler over the screw heads and sanding it smooth before touching it up with varnish.

Shelves up

My little box shelves were featured in the Bunnings magazine, where you can find more detailed instructions on measurements and installation.

I was concerned about the weight of the timber plus display items so used brackets to secure the shelves.

If you’re using timber features in a kitchen reno, be sure to post it on Facebook or Instagram, tagging @littleredindustries, and @monocel.timbercare. We’d love to see your handywork!