DIY: Kitchen Island Ideas


Making maximum use of open space in a kitchen is the main purpose of a kitchen island. Not all homes or apartments provide islands, which allows the home owner or renter to create their own. Approach a do-it-yourself kitchen project by considering mobility and recycling as part of an island design. A pick-it-up and take-it-along kitchen island can be the ultimate "green" solution to home decorating.

Mobile Island

  • Use rolling carts as the base for a butcher block island top. Decide how large the island needs to be, making sure there is adequate room to walk around the island---two feet all the way around the island is a good standard to follow. Design the island top in a butcher block or laminate style at two inches thick allowing for the cart tops to be inset at an inch deep on the underside of the top. Locate several rolling carts that fit the décor and style of the kitchen. These carts should be sturdy items and not lightweight wire or cheap particle board items. Draw the top on graph paper and take it to a counter top maker to have it made and cut professionally. The counter top maker can cut the insets for the carts if a drawing is provided. Place the carts about six inches from the edge of the top for easy standing next to the counter island. Use carts that have a stop built into the wheel to lock the island in place. Choose carts that provide closed and open storage, wine racks or a combination of each. Purchase carts without rollers for a more permanent solution.

Sit Down Island

  • Incorporate a farm table, or other suitable table as a kitchen island. This island allows cooks an opportunity to sit down to work, creates an easily accessible work surface for children and creates a homey, sit-down, let's visit atmosphere in the kitchen. Customize this island by adding a metal towel bar at one end to hold kitchen towels, have a table custom built at a taller height or in a specific shape. Search for vintage tables that fit the decorating scheme by visiting local vintage and resale shops. Add benches for maximum seating and chairs of mixed styles for eclectic kitchens. Bar height tables are another alternative for this kitchen island idea.

Recycled Island

  • Recycle old cabinets for the base to the island and add a top for a clean, new work surface. Locate used cabinets through ReStore, a Habitat for Humanity recycling center that benefits their building projects, or a local salvage company. Try calling general contractors to find out where they dispose of demolition items. Cabinets should be refinished to match the kitchen décor and may need an added base at the bottom to mimic other cabinets used in the kitchen. The top should fit snugly over the combined cabinets. Attach the cabinets together before measuring the overall size for the top. Cabinet doors can be removed to add a wine rack or be used as open storage.


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