How to Make a Kitchen Island

Small kitchens are all in need of two things: more storage, and more prep space. A kitchen island gives you both! You can make a DIY kitchen island from repurposed and upcycled elements, without spending a lot of cash. Here are the basic instructions on how to make a kitchen island, and some inspiration and tutorials for customizing it.



How to Make a Kitchen Island

Building a kitchen island is nothing more than creating a sturdy kitchen surface, so all you need is a base, a top, and some options.

Step One: Find a sturdy base such as an old desk, two dressers back to back, or even sturdy wire shelving placed on its side. Make sure the base is just a couple inches shorter than the height you wish your work surface to be. The average height for a work counter is 30-34 inches.

Step Two: Create a top for your kitchen island. Depending on what you will be using the prep area for, decide if you need a cutting surface or simply a work area. Cutting surfaces should be made of wood. Other surface ideas are metal, laminate and stone. Home improvement stores sell these pre-cut.

Step Three: Attach your top to the base with construction adhesive or silicon caulk adhesive, or another method that will create an unmovable surface. You want your surface to be secure to prevent accidents while cutting or prepping food.

Step Four: Add options. Caster wheels can be easily added to create a portable kitchen island, which can be pretty useful in a small space. Simple shelving under the top can add much needed storage, and hooks and towel racks placed along the back side can hang kitchen necessities.

Those are the basics! You can obviously alter these simple instructions to match your materials and situation. Try one of these inspirational ideas and tutorials for a unique and creative DIY kitchen island!


DIY Kitchen Island Tutorials

BHG‘ used two Hemnes Ikea sofa tables and a laminate top to make a kitchen island with lots of storage. Don’t forget the wheels for portability! Full tutorial for this project.


From ‘Yellow Brick Home‘, make a kitchen island from a dresser with this step by step tutorial. You could use a thrift store dresser, or a new one. Lovin’ on the navy, and the details with the gold hardware!


Learn how to make a kitchen island from two dressers and a concrete top from ‘BHG‘. This tutorial even has instructions for making the island countertop! All those drawers are perfect kitchen storage.


Jump on over to ‘Little Glass Jar‘ and learn how to make a kitchen island from an old bookshelf! You have to go see the “before” picture! Easy kitchen island idea anyone can do!


Jen Lou Meredith‘ has a DIY kitchen island Ikea hack for us that makes it really easy. She used four shelving units and two chopping boards from Ikea. Genius!


Here is an up-cycled dresser turned kitchen island by our friends at ‘RemodelAholic‘, with their complete tutorial.

How to make a DIY kitchen Island


Kitchen Island Ideas

Want a really easy DIY kitchen island? ‘DIY Showoff‘ just pulled an old vintage dresser into the kitchen and pressed it into service, as is! I love this! All the old patina of the dresser can only get better getting used in the family kitchen.


From ‘This Old House‘, let this factory cart turned kitchen island idea inspire you!


Love this kitchen island that could be created from kitchen base cabinets with glass door fronts. This could be a really creative project for an intermediate DIY’er! Source Unknown.

How to make a DIY kitchen Island

Inspired to build a kitchen island? Great! Don’t forget to get even more ideas at our post on DIY kitchen island ideas & projects.  And then when you are done with that, jump on over to our posts on How to Reupholster Almost Anything and New and Modern Pegboard Ideas!

Image Credits: BHG, Yellow Brick Home, BHG, Little Glass Jar, Jen Lou Meredith, remodelaholic, DIY Showoff, This Old House, coachbarn
This post may contain affiliate links. Please read our disclosure for more info.

Kathy Bates

Kathy Bates & Steve Bates (co-owners) – Woodard Bates Media LLC consisting of three blogs:, and

Kathy Bates’ previous writing credits include:

Former home decorating expert for Lifetime TV, Galtime and Country Woman Magazine.

Her book spent time at #1 on Amazon’s Home & Garden Topseller List in 2002.

Published or featured in numerous national publications, including:

Country Sampler’s Decorating Ideas magazine, Woman’s Day magazine, HGTV, The Wall Street Journal, CBS Marketwatch, Decorating Solutions magazine, Decorating Ideas magazine, The Seattle Times, Chicago Tribune, Kansas City News, The Oklahoman, Akron Beacon Journal, Pensacola News Journal and The Telegraph.


  1. Lisa Mark
    March 18, 2019 / 4:31 am

    Hi Callie, you shared an amazing step to make DIY kitchen island. It’s really inspired me. While reading your post I was thinking is that really possible to make custom island. Thumps up. Would like to see your more posts.

  2. Rebecca Creel
    June 7, 2016 / 9:16 am

    I want directions on how to make the island out of pallets! Love that idea, any how-to directions that I can find?

    • Kathy Woodard
      June 23, 2016 / 8:53 am

      Im sorry, its not our project, so we don’t have the info… Sorry we couldn’t be more help!I would suggest googling or searching Pinterest for a tutorial! Good luck!

  3. Simone
    November 7, 2015 / 9:28 pm


    Love the table, will use your idee for à little door-table in the “véranda” = porch.

    Thanks !

  4. Callie
    May 19, 2015 / 10:46 pm

    Hi! I just wanted to let you know that the last island you shared on this post for inspiration was designed by me. It is actually covered by a beveled piece of glass (the equivalent of what a glass top kitchen table is made of) and can certainly be cut on. I had it custom cut by a local glass company. There are rubber corners to keep it in place. Thanks for being inspired by my design!

    • Kathy Woodard
      May 21, 2015 / 8:12 pm

      Hi Callie! What a gorgeous piece! Is there a place we can link back to? How would you like to be credited for your design? We always want to give credit where it’s due, so please let us know… And thank you for the tips on how you made it!

    • Courtneyann
      September 3, 2015 / 8:30 pm

      Hey Callie, I am actually working on a similar project, turning a door into a counter height dining table for my new place. Can you give me an idea what the cost was for the glass on yours? (if you can let me know the dimensions as well that would be wonderful). Thanks so much!

      • Crafty crane
        January 2, 2016 / 9:34 pm

        I have a dining room table done similarly, we did it about 15 years ago and the glass at a local place was about $100 maybe $120, not bad considering we had the door from our 1900 house! We also put wood trim around it to cover the door mechanism parts and stained it. We have all family antiques displayed in it,(it has sunken middle) silverware, coins, old opera glasses, keys, jewelry. Fun to create!

    • Donna Berenics
      March 1, 2016 / 3:09 am

      What a great idea. And it’s beautiful too

  5. Lora
    January 25, 2015 / 3:54 pm

    the door idea….what is on top to make it sanitary, (so you don’t get that chipped paint and who knows what else was on the surface previously)?

    • Priscilla
      March 15, 2015 / 11:10 pm

      Seems to be a big piece of glass.

      • Callie
        May 19, 2015 / 10:49 pm

        It is! It was made to order by a glass company and is the equivalent of a glass top kitchen table. With the weight and the rubber corners on the edges it keeps it from sliding. But I designed it like that so you could store family recipes under it as a display 🙂

  6. tammy
    December 16, 2014 / 2:21 pm

    Ilov all of then

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