Farmhouse DIY Kitchen Island ( an IKEA hack!)

Introducing our new DIY kitchen island! It’s an IKEA hack which started with a simple IKEA base cabinet. This made it 10 times easier than building a kitchen island from scratch!

This is the final big step in our kitchen remodel! We are thrilled with how our DIY IKEA kitchen island came out! Because our kitchen is small, we made it into a portable kitchen cart style so we can wheel it around easily.

bright and airy farmhouse kitchen with green kitchen island cart on wheels, and towel bar

Today we will share with you how to design and build a kitchen island, choose paint colors, install butcher block countertop and optional wheels, and add a great looking towel bar!

This easy DIY kitchen island added lots of useful work and storage space in our kitchen. Check out our DIY IKEA kitchen remodel before and after here for a tour! Now let’s start designing and building!

Make it portable

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Step 1: space planning and DIY kitchen island design

How wide does a kitchen need to be for an island?

diy kitchen island building plan

A kitchen island should be 36″ to 37″ high. Above is our kitchen island building plan with dimensions. ( See Step 3 for back side design. )

You should have at least 30 inches, preferably 3 feet of space around a kitchen island for comfortable working and easy circulation. A kitchen island should be at least 20 inches wide, preferably 2 feet or wider (2′ is the standard kitchen countertop width) and longer than 30 inches.

anthropologie style farmhouse kitchen with colorful island

Adding these numbers together, you will need a 7′ by 8′ area for a small kitchen island.

A kitchen cart on wheels is great for a small kitchen like ours. For bigger kitchens with stationary island, you can easily adapt the design by using longer 4×4 posts and skip the casters.

ikea hack DIY kitchen island in colorful boho style

We used Wagner Flexio 3000 paint sprayer and Sherwin Williams Emerald latex paint to paint the panels before assembling the kitchen island. We want to thank Wagner Spray Tech for sponsoring our kitchen island project, and Sherwin Williams for providing us with all the beautiful paints through our entire remodel!

paint ikea cabinets

If you need to paint the kitchen island, check out Part one of this tutorial here on how to paint kitchen cabinets, especially laminate cabinets such as those high gloss ones from IKEA. Once the paint is cured, we can assemble our kitchen island!

Step 2: materials and tools for DIY kitchen island

ikea kitchen island DIY

If you don’t live near an IKEA you are probably wondering “What can I use to make a kitchen island?” You can use any stock cabinets or old cabinets or even book cases! Just check the dimensions in step one! Here are some creative alternatives to explore!

20+ Smart and Gorgeous IKEA Hacks: save time and money with functional designs and beautiful transformations. Great ideas for every room such as IKEA hack bed, desk, dressers, kitchen islands, and more! - A Piece of Rainbow

Step 3: assemble cabinet case and legs

The IKEA kitchen cabinet case is super easy to assemble when you follow the directions booklet.

build a kitchen island with ikea base cabinet

To attach the legs on the DIY kitchen island, place the case upside down, hold or clamp each leg to the case, predrill holes, then screw them together with 2″ or 2.5″ wood screws.

add legs to kitchen cart

Keep in mind that IKEA  cabinet doors and drawers are 0.75″ overlaying the cabinet case. We lined up the 4×4 legs with the case on the backside, and had legs protruding 0.75″ beyond the case on the front side, to be flush with the doors later.

We also added custom details to the back panel using 1/4″ plywood cut to size as shown below, because IKEA kitchen cabinets have an unfinished back.

back side of DIY kitchen island

Looking back, it would have been a lot easier to measure and glue the plywood design to the back panel first, then finish assembling the cabinet.

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Step 4: attach casters and butcher block countertop to DIY kitchen island

add casters to DIY kitchen cart

Center each caster on the 4×4 posts, predrill, and attach with 2″ screws.  You probably don’t need to use screws this long, but we want this kitchen island to be super sturdy, thus a little overkill here.

add wheels to DIY kitchen island

IKEA base cabinets come with metal rails at top, which makes it very easy to attach butcher block countertop. We used the 1″ screws to attach the countertop from underneath, after pre-drilling.

Step 5: add doors, drawers, towel bar, and hardware

install hardware on cabinet, using jig

Almost finished! 🙂 Just like the cabinet case, IKEA cabinet doors and drawers are really easy to put together too.

We used this cabinet hardware jig throughout our kitchen remodel, which made it really easy to attach drawer pulls and door knobs precisely.

colorful farmhouse DIY kitchen cart on wheels with towel bar hanging rail

It took a while to find a towel bar just right for our kitchen island. Here are the gold cabinet hardware, brushed gold towel bar, and brass S hooks we got. We LOVE them!

Finishing touches:

oiling butcher block countertop

If you are using an unfinished wood countertop, you can finish it with ready made butcher block oil conditioner, or make your own easily! Here’s our favorite recipe to make an all natural food safe butcher block oil and wax conditioner that is also great for wood cutting boards, salad bowls, etc.

butcher block oil


How much does it cost to build a kitchen island?

You can definitely build a kitchen island for less than $100 if you repurpose old cabinets or table tops, and you don’t need casters to wheel it around.

bright and airy modern farmhouse kitchen with bohemian style colorful DIY kitchen island, portable kitchen cart on wheels with hanging rail, mint fridge, mostera and fiddle leaf fig plants

We spent about $300 on this custom kitchen island, $100 of which were for the 4 caster wheels. We could probably have found much cheaper and good quality used materials at places like Habitat for Humanity stores, but we opted for a quicker option after a long remodel process! 🙂

Can a beginner build a DIY kitchen island?

beautiful modern farmhouse kitchen with bohemian style colorful DIY kitchen island, portable kitchen cart on wheels with hanging rail, flowers

Yes! A kitchen island can be as simple as a wood panel attached on top of a simple shelf! There are several kitchen island ideas here you can make which are super quick and easy here. Even Building our kitchen island is not that much harder than putting together IKEA furniture!

Check out the updated list of our kitchen remodel tutorials here!

Happy creating! 🙂


  1. Wow this kitchen island and the rest of your remodel looks amazing! We are moving to a new house and will be building this kitchen island!

  2. Hi Ananda – It’s beautiful! What are the dimensions of the butcher block top? I see that it is 1.5′ thick.

    Thank you!

  3. Great project! We always wanted a kitchen island with drawers and doors, now that IKEA is reopening, we are going to build this island. Thank you!

  4. This looks beautiful. I am wondering why the 4×4 posts were used for the casters, as opposed to screwing those directly on the bottom of the base cabinet? I am building something similar and was planning on putting the casters directly under the cabinet. Thanks!

    • hi marie! the posts are mainly for the looks and to increase the overall countertop size. you can totally attach the casters to the cabinet! 🙂

  5. Great tutorial and such a nice kitchen island! We are going to build something similar, thanks for the building plans!

  6. This is amazing… and gorgeous! Love that you took an IKEA cupboard and turned it into a colorful island for the kitchen! We would love for you to share this at Tuesday Turn About! We close today at Midnight, CST! Hope to see you there! (Pinned!)

  7. I’ve heard of people using Ikea things for kitchen islands, but now I see how it can be done, it looks amazing!! Also such a great way to add storage and counter space to the kitchen. We used Ikea kitchen cabinets to build our office with built-in desks!

  8. Oh my goodness, this is one of the most beautiful kitchens I have ever seen ! Love the Anthropologie boho vibe with the modern farmhouse style ! This kitchen island is stunning. I am going to use this green on a night stand 😊 Can’t believe these are all DIY, wow…

  9. Spending less than $300 for a custom cabinet kitchen island like this one it’s so worth it! Love the color, how nice it looks and how easy it is to make. Amazing DIY

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