Kitchen Island Ideas on a Budget

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Last updated: April 8, 2023

Kitchen space is one of the essential parts of any home. It’s a place for great cooking, dining, conversation, study or work. Full kitchen renovations dominate American household investments. It is one of the best ways to impart elegance to a kitchen’s general appearance without a heavy investment. If you’re a bit clueless about adding your own kitchen island, my kitchen island ideas on a budget should help you with a path forward.

Just remember that kitchen islands generally act as a focal point for all room activity but islands can be attached to the kitchen wall (half wall) if you don’t have a lot of space.

You could practically make a kitchen island from an old desk, like a well-designed shaker style table, and re-use the wood for your own diy kitchen island. It won’t add too much space for work but provides enough work space, for example, for a small kitchen area where foot traffic is limiting. However, you can easily skip all this and buy kitchen carts that have a small table top with spice rack, towel rack and drawer which is a great option if you’re not looking for a DIY tutorial. (LOL). It still has an kitchen island look but can be moved around and not just be placed in the middle of your kitchen.

Hodedah Kitchen Island with Spice Rack, Towel Rack & Drawer, Black with Beech Top

Ideally, if your home has small spaces like a kitchen, my list below can also help you. Note that these ideas are flexible and won’t limit your creativity—for example, using an old dresser is fantastic for small kitchen island ideas. Moreover, if you also want to add kitchen cabinets with closed or open shelving, you’ll have plenty of options to play with.

Table of Contents

  1. Old Dresser to Kitchen Island
  2. Industrial Kitchen Island
  3. Pottery Barn Kitchen Island
  4. Farmhouse Kitchen Island
  5. Drop Leaf Kitchen Island
  6. Wine Rack Kitchen Island
  7. Pallet Kitchen Island
  8. Frequently Asked Questions
    1. What’s the average cost of a kitchen island?
    2. What should I put on my kitchen island?
    3. Can I buy a kitchen island instead of making one?

Old Dresser to Kitchen Island

Using your old dresser is a great idea and a wonderful way to transform your kitchen island into a superior but simple one. Don’t have an old dresser or a new one? Time to get creative. When good weather is upon us, it’s time to hit some neighborhood garage sale opportunities but if you’re looking for something new, you can go to Home Depot or any other hardware store. I’d recommend avoiding dressers with glass doors, though.

Change your old dresser into a kitchen instead of letting it collect dust in your, e.g., garage or basement; this is one great way of putting it into use. If you’re worried that your kitchen island won’t adopt a traditional look, worry not since this isn’t always necessary. Want more utility? A towel rack / towel bar is an added bonus, making for a more functional kitchen island.

Essentially, you can tone up your DIY project by adding a fresh coat of paint, adding some flair to the overall look. Have an old country house that needs an excellent piece of furniture as a design accent?

You can find some classic turn of the century dresser at any yard sale and convert it into a classic beverage/bar station versus stylish kitchen island. The lower level drawer can be exposed to hold some wine bottles, and your new hardware can use the lower drawer for plates and utensils. Even as a small island, it provides plenty of storage for this purpose. Family members and guests will rave about the rustic look but it may be tricky keeping small children away. Want to add even more style? How about a lazy susan with marbleized top to spin the cheese and crackers around. You can find some ideas on Amazon or at Home Depot.

ActiveAnnie Large 30" Off White Faux Marble Swivel Lazy Susan Rotating Turntable Dining Tabletop – Great for The Kitchen Island, Family Style Dining, Games, Parties, and Wedding – Made in France

Alternatively, you can just buy a new dresser and make those changes but then it’s no longer a shoestring budget but a costlier DIY island hack. 😉

You can also use it as a breakfast bar by including a few chairs around it to make the area cozier. Moreover, you can decorate the dresser top with a flower pot or an antique. Generally, this will cost you less money but will leave your entire kitchen space looking fantastic.

This dresser kitchen island has some flexibility and you can also use it as a dining area during meal times. The chair options for this idea can be anything that feels comfortable, including bar stools. As mentioned earlier, you can use the dresser drawers to store items such as liquor bottles, and some utensils, among other kitchenware.

Industrial Kitchen Island

If you have a low budget, this should be among your top picks. Kitchen ideas should have a sophisticated level of simplicity for any furniture piece. If you want a modern edge, this could be one of the best DIY kitchen island ideas because it provides a lot of storage space with simple elements. As simple as metal, like stainless steel, and wooden scaffold boards. This custom island will become a focal point in your kitchen, for dining and meal prep, and could even work well in a basement apartment. provides some excellent options if you’re in the mood to buy and build one with a kitchen designer.

industrial kitchen table called Oak Parquet with mix of white gray and black for kitchen tiles and shelving
Source: Emmas Blog with Architect, Stef Bakker,

The style adopts an industrial appearance and vintage look, with modern appeal. Not necessarily steampunk but futuristic for modern kitchens today. Industrial is the best option if you need open shelving units which are a great place for kitchenware and other utensils. You also have some options about the metal and board used from a variety of vendors including different color variations.

HOOBRO Kitchen Island with Storage,Industrial Kitchen Counter with Hooks and Side Enclosures, 3 Tier Kitchen Cart with Large Workstation, Saving Space, Stable, Easy Assembly, Rustic Brown BF03ZD01

Pottery Barn Kitchen Island

Some of the best kitchen islands are sold at Pottery Barn. However, their price points may not fit most budgets. But they have deals! I’ve found a few in the less than $500 USD category. If you want a new kitchen island, you may want to look here.

When I wrote this article, there was a sale for their Drake Kitchen island, made for smaller kitchens. This one makes the most sense if you don’t want a large island, and prefer something with open shelves and reasonable access in the heart of the home. This unit is super functional for work, and storage, and has a great design.

White Drake Kitchen Island from Pottery Barn made with MDF and solid poplar wood
Source: Pottery Barn

It packs a punch! You can:

  • store kitchenware and other essentials for meal prep
  • Access to your own wine supplies (up to 12!) to act as the home bar for guest entertainment
  • The island’s back has legroom for two stools to be used as a breakfast bar for coffee and morning read
  • Level the island for uneven floors

If you have a white farmhouse-style kitchen or even a modern, contemporary look, the antique-white finish will fit in quite nicely.

Surprisingly, the kitchen island is portable even if it is made of solid poplar wood and MDF so that you can quickly move it to a specific spot within the kitchen when not in use. t’s one of the smallest kitchen islands but is in good shape to hold plates, mugs, glasses, and bowls.

Farmhouse Kitchen Island

Typically, this kitchen island is a cabinet with multiple drawers and an open shelf in the middle of the structure. You should know that it’s among the most inexpensive designs for those who wish to pull this off. The kitchen island might be small, but it has enough counter space for dining with your family.

Beautiful kitchen room with green island, farm sink and farmhouse style accents

This style fuses vintage elements with modern accents which complements an already exquisite kitchen environment. These colors help a kitchen, whether small or large, look far more spacious. A large kitchen island in this color with beautiful, light brown hardwood floors, kitchen interior white, and large windows will be breathtaking.

Generally, Farmhouse kitchen island designs thrive on a bluish-green paint color for the lower parts to give it a fantastic farmhouse and a light brown color for the countertop. This is a very popular color pattern for modern homes. Some great Benjamin Moore blue-green colors include:

  • Healing Aloe
  • Beach Glass
  • Woodlawn Blue
  • Palladian Blue
  • Whythe Blue
  • Williamsburg Whythe Blue
  • Sea Star
  • Aegean Teal
  • Rainstorm
  • Newburg Green
  • Dark Harbor

Have a look at this color sheet for some visual cues.

You can make the kitchen island cozy by incorporating chairs or bar stools. Adding a nice new countertop in marble finish will brighten your kitchen and also serves to include other accents, like potted plants, framed photos, and other antique, farmhouse elements. You can also use a butcher block countertop in this design set.

Drop Leaf Kitchen Island

The drop leaf has one prominent unique feature, i.e., extra counter space and functionality. The design employs a higher level of remarkable sophistication. The extra counter space is something you can pop up when you need some extra counter space for dining and holding additional items. And since this extra space is flexible, you can drop it down when not in use on some product.

Drop Leaf kitchen island cards are made with a solid wood countertop, including cabinet doors, drawers, and roller wheels which can lock into place, making this a perfect temporary kitchen solution. For dining, this can be rolled into the living room dining area for prep and service situations.

Crosley Furniture Savannah Drop Leaf Kitchen Cart with Wood Top, Mint

Bar-style stools work best for a temporary snack/dine moment but regular dining chairs might not work best their design does not consider legroom.

Kitchen Island Cart with Storage - Portable Kitchen Island with Drop Leaf, Rolling Kitchen Island on Wheels

Drop leaf kitchen islands can have more open shelving designs, which make room for a rustic fruit basket, middle shelving for kitchenware and utensils, and lower shelving for vintage wines with associated serving accessories. This style is perfect for a farmhouse kitchen style. Look for the Mayton Wide Rolling Kitchen Cart on Wayfair, including an excellent selection of styling options.

Crosley Furniture Drop Leaf Kitchen Island/Breakfast Bar, White

For whatever reason you want to use the extra countertop for this perfect kitchen island, it’s a good idea to incorporate chairs, especially the dining table chairs, to make it cozy. Generally, the main focal point of this kitchen island is its unique extra counter space. Also, if you want some extra storage space, this would be a perfect fit for your needs.

Wine Rack Kitchen Island

The wine rack would be an excellent idea for those who want a simple kitchen island to add to the kitchen’s focal point. Though it may not be suitable for food preparation, it will serve a simple purpose in a standard small kitchen island. Despite its name, it serves as a dual-purpose structure for liquor and wine bottle storage and holding utensils. 

Tmosi Rolling Mobile Kitchen Island with Storage on Wheels,Kitchen Island Cart with 4 Locking Wheels, 2 Cabinets,Wine Rack,Spice Rack,Two Drawers and Towel Rack (White)

Its design supports for easy access to utensils for immediate use. Moreover, you can use the kitchen island for decor accents such as antiques, photo frames, and potted plants. Additionally, it’s also suitable to serve food easily for snacking and conversation.

I recommend a color blend that’s a mix between maroon and white. This will attract attention and draw in activity as central focal point to your kitchen. You should reserve the maroon color for the countertop and the last shelf at the bottom. As for the rack that sits in between, white should suffice.

You can be sure that this kitchen Island design will have your guests turning heads constantly.

Pallet Kitchen Island

One of the cheapest kitchen bar islands with the most uncomplicated and inexpensive design is the pallet kitchen Island. According to most kitchen interior designers, this island design can cost less than $50. Even if you’re not a DIY person, you’ll find this project quite fulfilling and enjoyable, and the results will feel like you haven’t spent a dime. In the long run, this kitchen island will help you significantly. 

BEETHEFIRST 3D printer on a pallet table in the kitchen
Source: Creative Tools, Flickr

The good thing about this design is its simplicity and ease of making. However simple it is, the pallet kitchen island is an additional decor to your kitchen. Plus, it gives off a vintage vibe which is an excellent prime touch to the general appearance of the entire kitchen space. Typically this design is made of wood and a transparent finish that adds ambiance to the surface sparkle of the wood. If done correctly, you can even design it as a waterfall kitchen island, leaving a lot of space underneath with modern bar stools in a rustic wood setting.

Based on market sentiment, it appears to be one of the best DIY kitchen islands for the budget. You’ll appreciate having it for holding simple items such as utensils and other kitchenware in your kitchen. So, if you have a small budget for your kitchen island, this option is the best fit. Also, let’s be honest. How many people will talk about the uniqueness of a kitchen island built off pallet wood!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s the average cost of a kitchen island?

If you want the best kitchen island, you should be ready to pay heavily for it. You may not be able to give your kitchen the best new look at an affordable price. Depending on the amount of money you can spend, a standard kitchen island costs about $3,000 and $5,000.

What should I put on my kitchen island?

Whatever you see fit to place on your kitchen island is entirely up to you. For example, you can have the best furniture, such as bar stools or simple dining table chairs, depending on your design preference. Other components to include in your kitchen island are; dishes, cutting board, tray, bowl, candles, etc.

Can I buy a kitchen island instead of making one?

The simple answer is yes. Suppose you consider purchasing a built-in kitchen island in contemporary and industrial design. You can buy these kitchen islands from second-hand dealers or home improvement retailers. Most importantly, if you’re going to buy one, ensure you’ve taken the appropriate kitchen measurements to ensure you’re getting the proper kitchen island.

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