Affordable Kitchen Island Ideas

Add convenience and function to your kitchen with these do-it-yourself ideas for kitchen islands.

  • view all thumbnails
Kitchen Island
Adapt a Vintage Wheeled Cart

    A vintage cart on wheels stands in as a perfect island for a kitchen with an old-fashioned look. Small islands like this one work well in a space-starved room. To use an island for food preparation, opt for one that's 18 to 24 inches across, but allow 3 feet of floor space around an island and even more if appliances open into the area.

Repurpose a Console Table

    This slim console table directs traffic around the work core when cooking is underway. The top is wide enough to accommodate a lineup of ingredients, and towel rings keep dish towels in easy reach.

    Look for console tables designed for living room and dining room use to adapt for kitchen service.

Adapt a Work Table

    An old metal worktable with a butcher-block top makes a practical, roomy island with storage space underneath for oversize baskets and containers. A drawer on each side accommodates utensils or dish towels, and wheels allow you to move the table closer to a work center when necessary.

    Check local restaurant supply shops for new versions of similar tables or keep an eye out at flea markets for an old table with character.

Skirt a Table for a Kitchen Island

    Turn an old table into a cottage-style kitchen island by adding a cloth skirt and storage underneath. This gathered skirt is attached to the table's apron with hook-and-loop tape.

    To protect the table's surface from scarring and excessive wear, use a cutting board instead of cutting directly on the tabletop. Wipe up water and spills immediately to avoid damaging the wood finish.

Put an Old Dining Table to Work

    An old dining table cuts down on steps between work centers in this kitchen. The dark mahogany finish matches the dark-stained floor and makes a handsome foil for the bright blue-and-white color scheme.

Convert a Work Table

    Add casters to the legs of an old work table to make a portable kitchen island. A slab of marble on top makes a perfect surface for food prep. Check local listings for stone remnants that you can use for your island.

Build an Industrial-Chic Island

    With some basic carpentry skills, you can build an industrial-looking island to suit the dimensions of your kitchen. Cover the sides with corrugated metal to hide under-the-island storage.

Shop for Portable Islands

    This new work-table island is designed to look old, with turned legs in the Colonial style and a strategically worn finish. In spite of the antique look, it sports modern convenience features including a towel holder and a shelf for wines.

Adapt a Hunt Table

    A long, slender table that might have originally occupied a hall, entry, or dining room stands in for an island in this kitchen. Its slender width makes it ideal for a narrow kitchen, and at 36 inches tall, it sits at a convenient height for food prep or serving.

Work on a Wood Table

    This handsome wood island features two niches for recycling bins, drawers and central closed storage, and a spacious top that offers plenty of space for food preparation. It can also serve as a buffet center for a party in the kitchen.

    The turned legs and patterned top distinguish the table as a piece of furniture that could work in an office or living room.

Design a Skirted Island

    This large, multipurpose island offers ideas to imitate on a more modest scale: A solid surface top rests directly on turned legs that give the island the character of a farmhouse kitchen table. A tightly gathered skirt with a smocked top edge hangs on stainless steel rods to conceal storage shelves below the table.

Customize a Purchased Island

    This new kitchen work table was painted to look old so that it would fit the decor of the cottage-style kitchen. The island significantly increases existing counter space, and a slatted shelf increases storage options as well.

Choose a Stainless Steel Portable Island

    A tall stainless steel table on wheels makes a perfect contemporary-style island for food preparation. Move it close to the cooktop for convenience, or wheel it out of the work zone to use it as a buffet for a party. A shelf below keeps pots and pans handy.

Timeless Butcher Block

    An antique butcher block fitted to a sturdy mesquite base makes a focal-point island for the kitchen. Worn by use, the undulating surface adds character to everyday cooking chores.

Build a Multipurpose Island

    Basically a box on self-locking casters, this secondary, moveable island snuggles up to a fixed stainless-steel island to provide extra work and storage space.

    To build a kitchen island like this, determine a height that's comfortable for you to work standing up; base cabinets are generally 33 to 36 inches high. Choose the baskets you want to use as "drawers" first and use the basket dimensions to determine the width of the island and the size of the openings. Use furniture-grade lumber.

    This island's top is a slab of African marble that matches some of the countertops. You could also use solid surfacing or laminate for a versatile, easy-to-clean work surface.

Repurpose Flea Market Finds

    Shop flea markets and antiques stores for unusual pieces that can work as a kitchen island. This work island, made of metal and framed in wood, is a 50-year-old bakery fixture. Cleaned and sanded, it now offers a spacious top for food prep or buffet service and deep drawers and bins for closed storage.

Add Vintage Character with a Work Table

    Transform a vintage table into a centerpiece kitchen island, but do your homework first. If you find a painted piece that fits the dimensions of your kitchen, check carefully for chipping paint. Furniture painted before 1978 might be wearing lead-based paint. As long as the painted surface is intact, it's not a problem, but chipping paint releases dust that is toxic to children and some adults.

    If the surface is in good condition, seal it with two or three coats of polyurethane. As with any wood surface, use a cutting board rather than cutting directly on the wood.

Enjoy the Warmth of Pine

    The golden hue of a plain pine table adds a touch of rustic warmth to this bold red kitchen. Counter stools (which are lower than bar stools) adapt the table for eating and allow you to work while sitting.

Improve Function with a Small Island

    An entry console table that recalls an old trestle table works surprisingly well as an island in a small kitchen. Positioned between the oven and the refrigerator, the table makes a convenient food prep station. It's also a good height for use as a desk for miscellaneous tasks, like making grocery lists or paying bills.

Adapt a Marble-Top Table

    An old marble-top table with turned legs brings a touch of old-fashioned style to a new kitchen. Marble is a practical surface for the kitchen and easily turns a side table into a portable kitchen island.

Repurpose Hardware Store Finds

    Two roll-out toolboxes, one topped with a butcher block for chopping and the other with granite for rolling dough, give this island ample storage. The freestanding island top is made from a solid-core door wrapped in copper sheeting.

Build a Kitchen Island from Dressers

    Make your own kitchen island from two matching dressers and a 36-inch-wide solid-core slab door. Trim the dresser legs if necessary to obtain a comfortable finished height for working.

    For a custom finish, purchase unfinished dressers and paint and stencil them to match your decor. Trim the door to 45 inches, stain and seal it, and then attach it to the dresser tops with construction adhesive. Or, for easy disassembly later, attach the door to the chests with L brackets.

Popular Slideshows
If your fireplace is in need of a facelift, find i...

If you've warmed to the thought of using orange in...

Reorganize space you already have in your home by ...

Find your decorating personality and receive FREE ideas tailored to your style! Take our quiz now!

Top Brands

Related Links
If your fireplace is in need of a facelift, find i...

If you've warmed to the thought of using orange in...

Reorganize space you already have in your home by ...

A roll of wallpaper becomes a stylish backsplash.

Share Your Thoughts