12 Unique Designs for DIY Kitchen Islands

Are you looking for more storage or workspace in your kitchen but are reluctant to splurge on a custom kitchen island? Here are 12 creative DIY kitchen island designs executed with materials that were recycled, reused, or otherwise rescued from elsewhere in the home. With a little elbow grease, paint, and imagination, you too can create your own unique DIY kitchen island.

By Sarita Harbour | Updated Apr 06, 2020 02:17 PM

From Bedroom to Kitchen

DIY Kitchen Islands

Country kitchen lovers will adore this wooden dresser that has been stripped and painted to suit its new home in the kitchen. Updated hardware, rollers, and a plain wooden top add to this piece's functionality and rustic appeal.


From Bookshelf to Cookshelf

Bookshelf Ideas

No need for bookshelves in this age of e-books? Don’t toss them out—move them to your kitchen to serve as the base for a handy DIY kitchen island. Line up two or more shelves, add a piece of beadboard to the ends, and finish with trim and a solid butcher block worktop.


A Perfect Pallet

Pallet Island

If you’re handy with a hammer and nails, a shipping pallet can make a quick and easy DIY kitchen island. Paint it to match your decor, or simply scrub it down, stain it, and add hooks and rollers to create a portable workspace.


From Top to Bottom

Repurposed Cabinets

Renovating your kitchen? Don’t dump your old upper kitchen cabinets. Instead, use them as a base for a new DIY kitchen island. Slap on some white paint, add long stainless steel handles, and attach an overhanging countertop for extra seating in a small kitchen.



Kitchen Cart

A plain-Jane kitchen cart gets a total makeover to become a small but delightful kitchen island. A red, white, and gray color palette, a fresh stencil, and knobs made from water shut-off valves update the 1980s-style cart, while the flip-up tabletop provides optional extra workspace.


A Corrugated Kitchen

Corrugated Island

If you like the rustic chic look but are tired of reclaimed barn board, why not add a reclaimed corrugated tin roof? Topped with a plain white countertop, the corrugated tin's faded paint and rust spots give this kitchen breakfast bar character to spare.


On Loan From the Library

Old Card Catalogue

A casualty of the digital age, this old, wooden library card catalogue has gained a new lease on life as a center island, perfect for storing spices, dish towels, and kitchen cutlery and utensils.


Rescued From the Workshop

Stainless Steel Island

Now that it's been cleaned, scraped, and painted, it’s hard to believe that this industrial-style rolling kitchen cart was once a vise grip base! It's the perfect complement to a modern stainless steel kitchen.


School's Out

Reclaimed Lockers

Have you ever wondered what happens to those beat-up high school lockers? Add a refinished kitchen tabletop and voilà, they’re transformed into a nifty DIY kitchen island that's perfect for displaying your kids’ artwork or your magnet collection.


Too Cool for Tools

Tool Cart

Upcycle a metal tool cart by adding wooden shelves, casters, and a vinyl top, and you'll end up with a movable kitchen island with lots of storage.


A Study in Efficiency

Desk Ideas

Stripped and painted, an old wooden desk can store pots, pans, cutlery, and small appliances in your kitchen. Add an oversize tabletop to create a breakfast bar.


Sew Good

Salved Sewing Machine

This vintage Singer sewing machine has been upcycled to form an unusual DIY kitchen island that not only furnishes hanging space for oven mitts and pot holders, but also manages to accommodate a small seating area. A wooden base boosts the height and a tile worktop adds interest and functionality.


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