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.
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!
Check out the video tutorial or skip to written tutorial below!
Step 1: space planning and DIY kitchen island design
How wide does a kitchen need to be for an island?
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.
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.
( Some of the helpful resources are affiliate links. Full disclosure here. )
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!
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 30″ base cabinet case with Grimslov doors and drawer, same as in our kitchen remodel
- (4) 4×4 posts: we cut them at 31″ to accommodate the wheels and 1.5″ thick countertop. Just make sure the island is 36″ to 37″ high if you modify the design.
- heavy duty swivel locking caster wheels designed for hardwood floors, modern gold cabinet hardware, brushed gold towel bar, and brass S hooks. We LOVE using this cabinet hardware jig too!
- countertop: we used 1.5″ thick maple butcher block countertop left from our kitchen remodel. A wood tabletop can also be used here.
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!
Step 3: assemble cabinet case and legs
The IKEA kitchen cabinet case is super easy to assemble when you follow the directions booklet.
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.
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.
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.
Step 4: attach casters and butcher block countertop to DIY kitchen island
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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?
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!
- Our modern farmhouse IKEA kitchen remodel before and after, with 8 best tips!
- How to design and install your own IKEA kitchen from start to finish!
- How we gave our old dated fridge a beautiful $2000 new look! 🙂
- 100 day review of our stainless farmhouse sink.
- 2-Ingredient natural DIY butcher block countertop & cutting board oil conditioner recipe.
- How to paint kitchen cabinets, and #1 mistake to avoid.
- Boho farmhouse DIY kitchen island: an IKEA Hack!
Happy creating! 🙂