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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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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