Rick and liz O'Leary, Croton Falls, N.Y.
How They Did It: When building an island for their farmhouse-style kitchen, designers Rick and Liz O'Leary chose a countertop made of stock southern-yellow-pine stair treads for several reasons: They were wallet-friendly, available at the local lumberyard, and ideal for the room's aesthetic. Plus, the prefab boards already had bullnose edges like many countertops do. Rick ripped three 1×12 boards to size, and a neighbor who's a retired master carpenter cut grooves in the long sides, inserted splines to hold the pieces together, and edge-glued them. Rick then bolted the boards across the grain, using threaded rods to keep them secured. After plugging the bolt holes with dowels and smoothing the surface with an orbital sander, Liz sealed the wood with food-grade mineral oil. "We expect the wood to move a bit naturally and to show wear and tear," Rick says, "but we're going for an aged look here, not something sleek and new."