Design and Decor

How To Make A Kitchen Island Out Of Base Cabinets (DIY Plans)

:How to make a kitchen island out of base cabinets is your complete guide for a DIY kitchen island plan using stock cabinets. The use of standard base cabinets is the easy way and inexpensive way to build your  DIY island. Base cabinets come in different sizes and styles that you can choose from, just make sure to get the right measurements, sturdy cabinet construction, and the right materials to support your custom island design plans. Aside from that, the type of countertop materials that you are planning to use should also be taken into consideration since different countertop materials need a different foundation.

The kitchen island is not only a great way to add a focal point or interesting feature to your space but also a way to make your cooking area more functional because of the benefits that it can provide such as:

  • Extra storage space for your cooking essentials.
  • Additional countertop space or workspace that can be utilized as a prep space.
  • The cabinet space under the island can be used as extra space for utensils and other cooking tools which also offers easy access to all of these items during food preparation.
  • Define space in an open-concept home or if your cooking area is open towards your living room or dining table.
  • It becomes the heart of the kitchen as your kitchen is the heart of the home where everyone gathers.

However, when it designed incorrectly or placed inappropriately in the kitchen can create problems such as:

The new island interrupts the work triangle which can cause a traffic flow disruption within the room.

how to make a kitchen island out of base cabinets

  • It can crowd the space, especially if you have a small kitchen or if you do not have plenty of room to accommodate a new island.
  • It can be a very expensive project especially if it is too big, uses expensive finishes and may need special wiring and plumbing if you want to incorporate appliance placement and a sink in your island.

In order to avoid having an island that will create problems in your kitchen instead of adding functionality, below are the kitchen island plans out of standard base cabinets.

How To Know If Your Kitchen Space Can Accommodate An Island

The first step is to measure the width of your cooking space using your tape measure. If your kitchen has less than 13 feet or 156 inches wide, having an island is not recommended. Just like in our case, when we remodeled our kitchen, no matter how bad I wanted to have an island, our cooking space is too small to accommodate one. The general rule is that you need a minimum of 42 inches to 48 inches of open space around the area where you’re planning to place an island, not including any chairs or stools. For a U-shaped kitchen, the opening must be 10 feet or wider to fit an island to avoid causing claustrophobia or making your space look crowded.

Once your kitchen meets the above criteria, it only means that an inclusion of an island is possible. Below are the things that you need to know that will help not only to determine the right size and shape of your island but also the best spot for it.

Standard Kitchen Island Size, Dimensions and More

How Far Should Your Kitchen Island Out Of Base Cabinets Be From The Walkways?

The distance between the island and the walkways should be at least 36 inches..

How Far Should Your Kitchen Island Be From Counter Space That Has Appliances?

The distance between the island and the counter space that has appliances such as the dishwasher, sink, stove, or oven, should be 42 to 48 inches wide.

What Is The Minimum Size Of A Kitchen Island ?

The kitchen island minimum dimensions is 2 ft long x 4 ft deep.

How Much Overhang Should A Kitchen Island With Seating Area Have?

For islands with a seating area, you will need at least 12 inches of overhang. Support underneath may be needed depending on the type of countertop material you are going to use. If the overhang needs corbels or metal braces, the use of corbels will protect your countertop from tipping or breaking aside from the fact that it can also serve as a decorative piece for your islands. Follow the general rule when buying corbels for supporting a countertop. They must be at least half the overhang’s depth and the type of corbel should match with the type of countertop material because different countertop materials have different support needs. Then, symmetrically space the corbels and they should be installed around and in between seats. Allocate between 20 to 24 inches between seats so you and your loved ones can comfortably sit along the islands.

How much overhang should a kitchen island have without support?

The following solid surface countertops can overhang without additional support:

  • Plywood decking overhang up to 6 inches
  • Quartz (engineered stone) overhang up to 14 inches
  • Granite overhang up to 3 inches

What Are The Ideal Dimensions Of An Island?

The size of your island should be in proportion to the size of your kitchen and should be based on the function of your island. The ideal dimension or the best size of an island is an island that has 42 inches to 48 inches of open space around it and that it is not an obstruction to the main kitchen work areas namely sink, fridge and stove.

Consider the main function of your island and the standard open space around it, ranging from 36 inches and 48 inches, when designing one. You can easily calculate the number of base cabinets that you will need to create your dream kitchen island.

How To Pick The Best Location For Your Kitchen Island?

Once you find out that your cooking space can accommodate the addition of an island because you meet all the standard dimensions requirements, now it is time for you to pick the best spot for it. For smaller kitchens, typically you will not have much of a problem picking the best location for one because you will most likely use whatever available space you have. You will just need to figure out the best shape and the right size for it that will follow the work triangle method.

However, if space is not a problem because you have a bigger kitchen, then you will need to figure it out where the best spot for your island will be. The best spot for it is not always at the center of the room. It should be placed based on the main purpose or function that you would want your island to have. For an island whose main purpose is for meal preparation, it is better situated next to a cooking range and a refrigerator while for an island with a main purpose for cleanup, place it near to the garbage, sink and dishwasher. Below are different types of islands that will give you various ideas on how you would want it be situated:

Image Source Pinterest:


  • Consider an oval, L, or T-shaped island if a rectangle won’t fit in your kitchen.

Image Source Pinterest:

  • Add an overhang to create a seating area – To have a comfortable seating area, leave 9 to 13 inches between knees and the bottom edge of the counter. Remember, seating should match island height, use a low stool for counters with 36 inches of height and bar stools for counters with 42 to 48 inches of height.

Best Blue Gray Paint Colors For Kitchen Cabinets

  • Go with the classic – Position it at the center of your kitchen.

Image Source Pinterest:

  • Have a two-tier kitchen island – Utilize the first level as prep space while the second level is a space for your kids to do their homework.

What Is The Best Kind Of Base Cabinets To Use As An Island’s Base?

When using base cabinets to make an island you would need to choose durable kitchen cabinets. Make sure they’re cabinets that are made from sturdy construction material like fabuwood cabinets or cabinets with all wood construction. Do not buy cabinets with cardboard backing because they are not durable.

Does A Kitchen Island Need To Be Floor-Mounted?

The answer is yes, if it is made out of base cabinets. According to experts, you would need to fix the island permanently in your chosen location to make your island stable and for safety purposes.

Can You Put Kitchen Island Cabinets On A Floating Floor?

Secure your cabinets first into the floor before the floating floors. Floating floors such as laminate, engineered hardwood and luxury vinyl consist of tongue and grooves; these edges are snapped together to create a floating floor. As a result of this installation process, your island should go in first before the installation of floating floors.

However, if you have a traditional hardwood floor or a tile floor where you need a professional to nail or glue down each plank, then you need to install the flooring before the installation of the island.

How To Make A DIY Kitchen Island Out Of Standard Kitchen Base Cabinets

Once you have already determined where to place and the size of your island, you are now ready to start your project. Keep in mind, you have two goals that you need to achieve, to level and fasten the island into the floor. Below are the 10 simple steps to follow:

  1. Build your cabinet runs by fastening your cabinets together both the back and front side just like every other cabinet in the kitchen.
  • Once you have already lined-up all your cabinets for your island, the next step is to attach each cabinets together by using two or three C-clamps
  • You need to make necessary adjustments by reclamping the second cabinet until the second cabinet is level and flush with the first cabinet. Correct the unevenness by inserting shims.
  • Next drill a pilot hole using ⅛ inch pilot hole for a screw in the face frame close to the hinge of each door.
  • Use 2 ½ inch, #8 screw to connect the second cabinet to the first cabinet. For an even appearance, countersink the screw.
  • Repeat this process for the remaining cabinets for your island.
  1. Set your cabinets where you want them to be installed.
  2. Mark a line on the floor where the toe kicks meet the floor just on the two outside cabinets where you are going to place the 2 x 4 lumber.
  3. Carefully set aside the cabinets.
  4. Use two sets of approximately 6 inch long pieces of 2 x 4 lumber and place them just behind the line you drew that will serve as a mounting block. The mounting block should be the same thickness as the toe kicks and make necessary adjustments if needed.
  5. Fasten the mounting block to the floor, using 3 inch wood screws or 3 inch tapcon screws for installing on a tile or concrete floor,
  6. Carefully place the cabinets over the mounting blocks.
  7. Using a level, correct any unevenness using shims once the cabinets are perfectly level. Then, attach the cabinets to the mounting blocks through the toe kick using screws

Quick Tips:

  • Always remember, do not use side panels to connect cabinets, they should always be attached together at the face frame.
  • If there is a thickness difference between the back end and front end of your base cabinets, use a ½ inch piece of plywood and insert it in between the cabinets to make up with the thickness difference.
  • Click here to watch how Landberg Tile TV installed islands out of base cabinets or click here if you want to watch how to install and level kitchen islands.
  1. For islands that are permanently fixed into the floor it is required by NEC, National Electrical Code, to have a power outlet to bring up to code for safety purposes. It will most likely be the place for your mixers, food processors and alike while you are doing meal preparation and without a power outlet you will be forced to use an extension cord that will be laid across the pathway and could cause great potential to be a trip hazard incident. Click here to know if your area or state is following the NEC standards and if it yes, you may need to hire a professional to do the electrical work for you, again for safety purposes.
  2. The last step is to install your countertop. The type of countertop that you are going to use is based on your personal preference as well as the budget and function of your island. Below are the popular countertop materials that you can choose from:
  • Popular granite – Granite is known for its durability and ability to prevent moisture but it’s expensive.
  • Butcher block countertops – Looks beautiful but requires a lot of attention and care.
  • Quartz countertop – Harder than granite and therefore more durable than granite. However, it can be damaged by excessive heat from cooking pans.

Adding Some Decorative Details In Your Custom Kitchen Island

Adjust The Width Of Base Cabinets

  • You can also adjust the width of the base cabinet if you want your island to be wider than the standard 24 inch depth cabinet by framing it out using 2 inch x 4 inch lumber. Place the first 2 inch x 4 inch lumber on top of the cabinet and attach it to all of the cabinets. Then do the same thing for the 2nd 2 inch x 4 inch lumber but this time by attaching it at the bottom of the base cabinets. By doing this, it will make your island a little bit wider but also keep the cabinets securely fastened together. Click here to watch how to use this method by East Coast DIY.

This was our kitchen peninsula during renovation of our kitchen. Although this is a peninsula, our carpenter used the same concept of connecting two 12 inch width standard base cabinets with a space in the middle for our oven using 2 x4 lumber to have a solid foundation and to make the base cabinets wider. He added trim molding around the exposed area to make the exposed area aesthetically appealing.

Make Your Kitchen Island A Child Kick Proof

  • You can also attach one solid piece of plywood to the entire back of your kitchen island cabinets to make it child kick proof. This will also keep the cabinets securely fastened together. After that, you can style your island with shiplap, bead boards, trim molding or whatever you like. To add nice decorative detail, you can add a frame around the bottom and edges of the island. Click here to see how domesticblonde,com uses this method to makeover their kitchen island.

Use Kickboards

  • Use kickboards to hide toe kicks. Click here to watch how to install kickboards under your cabinet by kaboodle kitchen.

Spice It Up

  • Spice it up using a bead board paneling, shiplap or trim molding! The back of the cabinets have plain sides and if you do not like the look of it and want to add an decorative feature in your kitchen island, adding a bead board or adding trim molding will do the trick for you. Click here to watch YouTube videos on how to use beadboards, shiplap and trim molding to transform your kitchen island.

Sanding, Primer and Paint

  • Apply a fresh coat of paint. Primer application is needed to provide a paintable base for your cabinets. Pearl sheen, semi-gloss finish and high-gloss sheen are the best paint finishes for trim and cabinets as they all provide a durable, easy-to-clean surface. Click here to learn more about best paint for trim and cabinets.

Utilize Hardware

  • Accessorize with your favorite hardware. After paint has completely dried, install your favorite hardware for cabinet doors and drawers.


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