14 Inexpensive Kitchen Island Ideas

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Last updated: April 8, 2023

Do you need new storage space in your kitchen, but are not ready to spend a lot? Do you own an old dresser that you don’t want to throw out just yet? Some of the best DIY kitchen island ideas are low cost hacks that give your kitchen a quick update with a lean budget. 

DIY kitchen island projects can be weekend projects requiring 20-25 hours, some tools, and wood materials.

One simple DIY project has a cost of $150 for materials, if you already own some tools. This considers pine wood for most of the structure and sanded plywood for the sides of the small kitchen island if you have a tiny kitchen. This configuration also includes a drawer for kitchen utensils and a bottom area since storage solutions are always in demand in kitchen design.

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - carpenter cutting wood with a saw

The above example sturdy kitchen island since pine wood is used on the table top and one of the side panels, made of plywood, has a slide-out door which an attached trash bin. Simple design ideas like this make great use of floor space and could even have caster wheels so that it’s movable when family members need to cook together. A rustic look is achieved with dark walnut stains for the countertop, drawer and slats beneath. Edges can have a navy blue or other bright color if you have a beach house or Cape Cod home to create that rustic kitchen island look.

My own rustic DIY kitchen island is a butcher block countertop which is because my larger kitchen space. The edges have a distressed look.

Kitchen islands offer additional workspace invaluable for special occasions and entertaining purposes. An island, with or without a breakfast bar, can be a standalone feature with its distinct look or tie in other aspects of your kitchen. 

inexpensive kitchen island ideas -- various tools lying on rustic kitchen island countertop with repairwoman with measuring table measuring rustic wooden cabinets with red brick backsplash

Those who wish to spruce up their small spaces or upgrade their awkward kitchen layout without blowing their budget can take inspiration from the following inexpensive kitchen island ideas.

Table of Contents

Breathe New Life to Old Dressers

An excellent way to breathe a new life to some old and unused dressers is to convert their use. An old dresser helps unleash your creativity and give it a whole new purpose and function, versus letting it gather dust in the corner.

For all you know, that new dresser might hold the key to turning your dream kitchen space into reality. Just add some touch of color, and it will be good to go. The best thing about this first island idea is that you only need little to no budget for it at all!

Bookshelves with a Purpose

A bookshelf is probably your best choice if you want your island to have some open shelving. Box spaces are perfect for a kitchen island design, and this makes bookshelves one of the cheapest and fastest DIY (do it yourself) kitchen island projects you can ever make.

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - brown_wooden_shelf_with_brown_wooden_frames-as-a-freestanding-pantry-cabinet

Butcher Block Top Turn Kitchen Island

If you have seen attractive islands images, you might be surprised to learn that most of them feature butcher blocks countertop because this is the perfect island alternative you can try. 

The surface is ready to be used in the kitchen, and you can see just a couple of bar stools to create an excellent snack counter. 

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - Refinishing a kitchen counter using an electric sander

Pallet Kitchen Island

This is a lower cost solution because it is made of wood pallets. This material can be used to make almost any piece of furniture. In large kitchens , you can build a freestanding pantry shelving unit or cabinet, or build a wooden frame, with a larger wooden top. This new countertop would work well for prep space and dining. You can probably find used wooden pallets for free, or buy them used for as little as $50-$100. A simple check online found new pallets priced between $200-$600.

For your own DIY kitchen island, a great place to find these materials is at a garage sale!

Go Mobile with Your Island

Modified desks also work well as a new kitchen island. If you have an old desk, new panels and a fresh coat of paint can do the trick to give it a new life. If the wood on top is already a bit thin, you can switch it out with a more stable version. 

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - person_holding_blue_and_white_toothbrush-on-kitchen-island-countertop

But to make your modification more interesting, you can add wheels to your creation. Yes, your island doesn’t have to be a stationary feature in your kitchen, and mobile islands are a great way to have complete and better control over the available space in the kitchen. 

Coffee Tables with a Different Purpose

It is always a great idea to find a new purpose for existing furniture. You can create your kitchen island using your coffee table. Don’t worry if you have got two tables. You can stack them over each other to save more space while creating more room simultaneously; this gives you a unique two-tier island that is very usable and superb, stylish, and affordable. 

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - Interior of modern kitchen with wooden table

A Door That Leads to the World of Islands

Out the box kitchen ideas can lead you to one-of-a-kind designs like no other. You can refashion an old door into a table, and the heavy and long surface of a door is ideal for a family-sized dining table. The existing designs or engravings on the door can also serve as a pleasant and eye-catching backdrop if you have tempered glass on top. 

A Great Kitchen Island Made From Sofa Tables

Often overlooked, you can turn that sofa table you haven’t been using into a kitchen island. The open shelves below can offer extra storage for more oversized items in modern kitchens with this particular idea. 

Repurpose Your Old Washtub

Yes, that old tub you used to love bathing in can still be repurposed and turned into an island with some thorough cleaning. 

After cleaning, you can give the tub a top surface, an opening, and four legs to have a small or large kitchen island you have always dreamed of at a fraction of a cost. You could even lift the lid and store some items inside.

Wine Rack and Island in One

You can double your kitchen island’s functionality by dressing up that wine rack as a new island or installing a wine rack in your existing island. These two options can work depending on your budget and the available space. 

inexpensive kitchen island ideas - oil, fresh vegetables and cooking utensils on rustic wooden kitchen island table

Farmhouse Kitchen Island

A farmhouse-style kitchen island is another great inexpensive idea for a tiny or large kitchen. All you need here is reclaimed wood that looks old. If you don’t find one, you can use sandpaper and paint to make the wood look rustic. Sand the wood, apply some stain, and achieve that rustic country vibe. 

Make it Rock with a Rack

Do you need extra counter space, but you don’t want to use your old cabinets anymore? A kitchen island rack with a towel rack, hanging hooks, and built-in shelving lets you store your oversized mixing bowls, pans, pots, and more without wasting any valuable space in your cabinets.

 You can now enjoy that fully functional kitchen island. 

Find Consolation in a Console Table

Console tables that feature multiple shelves are another excellent choice for a new top for an island. If you don’t have much storage, the shelves in console tables let you organize your dishes better. The overall look of console tables makes them ideal choices for those who don’t have much time for organization and decluttering. 

Expand Your Existing Island

If your home already has a kitchen island, you can consider yourself lucky. But it doesn’t mean you need to stick with it.

The best DIY island project is to expand its surface area, to create more workspace and seating area. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Is a kitchen island worth it?

All in all, yes, a kitchen island is worth it. In addition to the aesthetic value to your kitchen, islands offer other benefits such as more storage and counter space, an extra room for a sink or kitchen appliances, and an eating area.

Inexpensive Kitchen Island Ideas- industrial kitchen style with black wood dining zone

If you prefer beautiful kitchen island ideas with a budget, a good place to start with is Wayfair and its selection of products. They have over 240 examples of a drop leaf kitchen island. If you live in cities were space is a premium, like New York City, you may find most New York Kitchen designs to have modern lines in loft-style apartments. A really popular trend is the industrial look which could be your own kitchen island. Some of the best DIY kitchen islands have been built with stainless steel and additional features to hold kitchen utensils or storage areas beneath for pots, pans and plates.

Can you buy a ready-made kitchen island?

Yes, you can buy a premade kitchen island. Many prebuilt kitchen islands are available in modern, contemporary, and industrial designs. You can also purchase some islands separately from home improvement stores like Home Depot, and you can also find secondhand ones from open houses.

Before buying one, see that you get the correct measurements of the spot where you plan to install the island.  

Do kitchen islands add value to your home?

Apart from their function, kitchen islands are the best way to increase the value of your kitchen, especially when it is upscale looking and fully furnished. The overall aesthetic value of islands is also a great bonus of giving you an extra countertop.

Being right in the heart of the home makes the island a focal point that will always be seen and noticed. It would be best to give your DIY kitchen island plans careful thought and to plan to ensure high aesthetic value.

What is the average cost of a kitchen island?

It can be a bit expensive to add a kitchen island, and you might need the help of a professional interior designer if you want a classier and more elegant piece. All in all, the perfect kitchen island coordinates well with the kitchen’s interior design. 

A kitchen island can cost you anywhere between $3,000 to $5,000. Whether you want a small or large island, it is crucial to make a wise decision regarding the design, style, and materials since these can easily affect the total price you end up paying.

What is the cost of a small kitchen island?

Small kitchen island ideas can cost as low as $0 to $15. Re-purposing old items and furniture pieces remains one of the best ways to save some cash. Despite being undersized and straightforward, this can increase your dining area’s aesthetic value.

Unlike a large kitchen layout with an architectural design, simple and small kitchen islands are DIY projects that any homeowner can try their hands on to unleash their creativity and update their space without blowing their budget.

Should kitchen islands be darker or lighter than kitchen cabinets?

Many homeowners have their base cabinets the same color as their islands, but it is a more personal preference. Some intensify the island to a darker shade or tone it down to a lighter one. There is no general rule for tonal balance and colors of islands and cabinets. 

Inexpensive Kitchen Island Ideas Modern loft kitchen

What will go well on your DIY kitchen island?

Kitchen islands can feature plenty of things, and you can choose to put any element on them. However, some of the most common items on kitchen islands include vases, trays, bowls, candles, cake stands, cutting boards, linens, dishes, canisters, cookbooks, etc. 

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