How to Make a Kitchen Island Out of Base Cabinets

How to Make a Kitchen Island Out of Base Cabinets

Ready to roll up your sleeves and bring something fresh to your kitchen? Creating your own DIY kitchen island not only saves money but brings the satisfaction of seeing your labor bear fruit. Let’s dive into this transformative journey, shall we?

In this blog post, we’ll explore how to make a kitchen island out of base cabinets, providing you with a cost-effective and stylish solution for your home.

Key Takeaways

  • Transform your space with a DIY kitchen island: measure the area, select cabinets & strategize storage
  • Assemble foundation & customize look w/ drawers, side panels & cabinet doors
  • Craft countertop and enhance functionality by adding appliances, outlets and maximizing storage

Planning Your DIY Kitchen Island

Planning your DIY kitchen island project is an important first step before you start hammering away. The first step is to determine the size of your kitchen island. Consider the overall size of the planned countertop, the standard depth of base cabinets (24 inches), and the desired width (62 inches can be typical). If seating is included, you’ll need to account for the total space needed, including a 42-inch pathway around the actual island.

When planning your kitchen island, bear in mind the importance of walkability. Aim for 42-48 inches of space around the island for easy access, and about 3-3.5 feet between the island and appliances. This ensures that your kitchen area remains functional and comfortable, whether you’re cooking up a storm or hosting a casual gathering.

The subsequent step involves:

  1. Selecting suitable base cabinets and strategizing your storage needs. Use standard height and depth base kitchen cabinets to match your existing cabinetry.
  2. Make adjustments to make them work for the island cabinets, and plan what you’ll put in each cabinet.
  3. Think about adding fillers to both ends of the island to give it a balanced look and provide space for wiring or electrical outlets.

Remember to adhere to your local electrical code by installing the correct number of outlets on the island. Ignoring the codes could lead to awkward adjustments, like adding an outlet at the end of the island. To keep your kitchen floor protected during the construction process, lay down plywood or a similar protective layer.

Assembling the Island Foundation

After finalizing your plan, you can begin assembling your island foundation. Here’s how:

  1. Start by connecting your stock cabinets back-to-back. Align the sides and tops of the material.
  2. Clamp them together and secure with screws, 1 to 2 inches from the bottom.
  3. Using straight cuts on plywood and stock boards to wrap the cabinets, place vertical supports wherever the cabinet seams are to ensure there is ample support for each individual cabinet.

Once the cabinets are set, you should proceed to attach them to the floor. This is important to prevent any movement of the island while in use. Simply screw them down onto the plywood base, and use cleats to attach the base cabinets to the floor.

It is vital to incorporate a toe kick while assembling the island foundation. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Drill pilot holes to attach each cabinet’s toe-kick to the cleat behind it.
  2. Use trim-head screws to secure them together.
  3. Drive the screws into the wood below the surface to secure it.

This will ensure that your counter space is well-supported and stable.

Before fully securing the island foundation, ensure each corner of the actual island is on the original lines you drew for accurate positioning. Once you’re sure everything is in place, secure the island foundation with trim-head screws to finalize its placement.

Customizing Your Island’s Look

After establishing the foundation, you can start personalizing your kitchen island’s look. It’s essential to aim for a balanced design, as it boosts the island’s symmetry and aesthetic appeal, lending a professional touch to your DIY kitchen island project.

When it comes to storage, drawers can be a great addition to large kitchen islands. They offer convenient access and better storage options than doors, making your kitchen island not only a beautiful island but a functional one as well.

To spruce up your island, consider using pre-made side panels that match the cabinets. You can also attach cabinet doors or back panels for a cohesive finish. These finishing touches can transform your kitchen island from a functional piece to a stunning focal point in your kitchen.

Crafting the Perfect Countertop

Selecting an ideal countertop is a significant part of your DIY kitchen island project. Some popular choices for countertops include:

  • Live edge
  • Granite
  • Butcher block
  • Quartz
  • Wood

These materials are known for their durability and aesthetic appeal. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of stone countertops or the natural warmth of butcher block, the choice is entirely up to you.

Determining the size of your countertop involves measuring the top of the island’s base and adding the length and width of the overhang you want. This will help you determine the size of your butcher block countertops or any other type of countertop material you choose.

The process of installing your countertop is quite direct. Just follow these steps:

  1. Measure from the edges of the countertop to the cabinet faces.
  2. Use the right length screws to secure it in place.
  3. Ensure that your countertop is attached straight and secure.

Enhancing Functionality

The creation of an easy DIY kitchen island isn’t limited to assembly. Its functionality can be improved by incorporating appliances such as:

  • a sink
  • a dishwasher
  • a microwave
  • cooktops
  • range hoods
  • wine coolers
  • a trash compactor

Establishing electrical outlets is vital for the accommodation of your kitchen appliances. Plan where you want them, figure out the wiring, cut the holes, install the electrical box, connect the wiring, and finally, test out the outlets. This setup ensures your kitchen island is not only stylish but fully functional.

You also have a range of options when it comes to drawers and cabinets. From galley to round islands, the choice of setup and drawer types can significantly increase your cabinet space, making your kitchen island not just a showpiece, but a practical addition to your kitchen and dining room.

The best size for a large island with storage and appliances is usually around 4 feet deep and 8 feet wide. This size gives enough workspace and storage while leaving at least 36 inches of space around the island for easy movement.

Finishing Touches

As your project approaches completion, it’s the perfect time to apply the finishing touches. Toe kicks are the recessed areas at the base of the cabinets. They allow you to stand closer to the countertop, making it more comfortable to work at your beautiful island.

When adding toe kicks to your DIY kitchen island, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the cabinet base aligns with the cabinet boxes.
  2. Cut the toe kick shape from wood.
  3. Trace this shape onto a second piece of wood and cut.
  4. Clamp and glue the two pieces together.
  5. Secure them to the kitchen island’s bottom front.

Holes in your kitchen island can be filled using wood filler or spackle. Simply fill the holes, make sure it’s level with the surface, let it dry, and then sand it down for a smooth finish.

Where to Find Cabinets and Woodworking Help in Colorado Springs

For those in Colorado Springs, sourcing cabinets and seeking assistance for woodworking requirements is rather straightforward. You can find cabinets and get help from our custom woodworking shop right here at CO Lumber & Real Wood Furniture.


Creating your own DIY kitchen island can be a fulfilling project. From planning the size and function to choosing the right base cabinets, customizing the look, crafting the perfect countertop, enhancing functionality, and adding the finishing touches, each step brings you closer to having a kitchen island that is not only functional but also a beautiful addition to your home.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I use base cabinets for island?

Yes, you can definitely use base cabinets for your kitchen island! They’re strong and offer plenty of storage, plus they support a variety of countertop materials.

What’s the ideal size for the kitchen island?

For an ideal kitchen island, look for one that’s about 4 feet deep and 8 feet wide with at least 36 inches of space around it – perfect for workspace and storage while allowing for easy movement.

How to secure the island foundation?

Secure the island foundation by connecting stock cabinets back-to-back, clamping and securing them with screws, then attach the base cabinets to the floor with cleats.

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