DIY tricks to customize a kitchen island

March 19, 2019

Most of you won't be surprised to hear this...but I'm about to begin a new project on our kitchen island. Many of you know I've had a thing with tweaking our kitchen islands over the years. I think it's such a great way to add a custom touch to a kitchen.

Islands are such a centerpiece to a kitchen and I've found with most of my projects that it doesn't take much to make them really shine. Forever ago I added beadboard to our old island and then painted it black.

Later I took butcher block from IKEA, paint and trim and transformed it again:
Covering kitchen island with beadboard for farmhouse look

When I started our kitchen renovation at that house I knew I wanted to make a bigger change. We moved our kitchen table over so that meant a much bigger island. 

It always looks worse before it gets better!: 
How to build out sides of kitchen island

The finished result was a MUCH bigger island with tons of storage

How to extend an existing kitchen island

I added wine storage, a spot for a long towel rod that held various items, and a bookcase at the end of the island that held our microwave
Extending a kitchen island to include space for microwave

In our new house I knew I wanted to repeat the wood counters and those have held up beautifully. We have a HUGE island which we LOVE. Love love love. It is pretty basic as far as the cabinets and design. Last year I added a small detail to the ends of the island to dress it up a bit:
Adding custom molding to end of kitchen island

I've known from before we moved in that I'd eventually add to it...but like most of the big projects I tackle, I wanted to wait it out to figure out exactly what I wanted to do. 

I'm so glad I did! I knew I wanted to add some kind of "legs" to the island, so I've been searching for ideas for over a year. I prefer some kind of base under the counter -- the design we had on the old island with the sides is my preference. 

I thought it wouldn't be possible because we have the cabinets underneath that open. We don't have to access them often, but I do love the extra storage. I thought about adding legs, but instead came up with a new plan that I'm planning to start this week. 

In my head it looks SO GOOD. I'm just hoping it turns out like that. ;) Of course I'll share that whole process with you, but for now I've got a bunch of great island transformations from other talented bloggers. 

These kitchen island ideas run the gamut -- modern and traditional, from scratch to adding to existing. All of them are beautiful examples of ideas you can incorporate in your own home! 

This is one of my favorites -- what a beauty with those big, chunky legs!:
Adding chunky wood legs to island

I've found recently that you can find some great wood leg options on Amazon. I love how long it is too -- and that pretty light gray color. 

I love this one because it is absolutely a doable DIY project -- if you don't have an island built in, why not build one you can move? This simple version would still hold plenty of stuff: 
Simple rolling kitchen island idea with shelf

I've always thought my DIY potting bench would make a beautiful island, especially with the wheels! 

Here's another idea to extend the island underneath and add more open storage:
Adding on to island to add microwave

This island had an overhang at the end that didn't leave much room for stools. I love using it for pretty open (or closed!) storage instead.

This was a great idea too -- they added onto their island and now have a table in the kitchen:
Adding a leg to an existing island to create a table

I almost did something similar in our old kitchen years ago -- I was very close to extending out the countertop so we could have seating off the island instead of in the bay window area. If you're tight on space this is such a smart option!

If you have a sink or stovetop in your island and don't want people to see the messes (or just want more eating area), this is a great way to do it:
How to add a bar top to a basic island

They added on to their existing island and built a taller bar top. The added molding makes this look like a custom piece!

If you don't have an island, there are many ways to create one with store-bought cabinets:
How to build a custom island with cabinets

It would be fun to customize one to exactly the size you want and your needs!

You don't always need cabinets to create an island where the wasn't one. This table became a lovely island and can be rolled out of the way if needed:
Transform furniture into kitchen island

I just love that pretty detail on the ends of the table! And the long towel bar is a perfect touch.

Jennifer found an old sewing table that ended up being a lovely kitchen island as well:
Using a sewing table as kitchen island

Isn't that pretty? Because it's a smaller size the counter wouldn't be too horribly expensive.

And finally, don't underestimate the power of paint and new hardware -- they can completely transform an ho hum kitchen island!:
Emerald green color on kitchen island cabinets

If you're loving a dramatic color but are afraid to incorporate it on the walls or ALL of the cabinets, add it to your island. I think the island should be one of the show pieces of the kitchen and this is a great way to accomplish that!

Liz needed a kitchen island but couldn’t find one that was the right size. So they found a sofa table and transformed it:

sofa table kitchen island

Awesome!! It looks so custom. And whooee, check out that gorgeous kitchen too!

This tutorial on how to add legs to your island is so helpful:

Adding legs to an island

Nicki's island looks fantastic with those chunky legs -- this is a fairly easy DIY project that really adds a custom touch to your kitchen.

Great transformations, yes? I love seeing what my fellow bloggers accomplish with some sweat equity. Have you added any custom details to dress up your kitchen island? I hope to update you soon on my own progress. :)

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  1. Ahh, dreamy kitchen islands! My tiny apartment in Hong Kong is WAAAY too small for one (we barely even have a galley kitchen... we don't even have counter space haha) but it's my dream to own a kitchen with an island one day! 💕

    Charmaine Ng | Architecture & Lifestyle Blog

  2. The painted islands are gorgeous! While I really like the look of "legs" on an island, I prefer having the extra open space on the ends to be able to move into and out of the seats.


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