Ikea Hack – DIY Kitchen Island Tutorial

Dear Auntie Moonbeam

Last week I wrote about a mini kitchen makeover I did with some leftover wooden countertops (click here for a refresher). It got me thinking about a much larger wood countertop project I did a while back.

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial

In the past I’ve talked about my love of small kitchens. I’m of the opinion that what seem like design constraints can actually end up yielding fun & funky solutions.  Like aqua painted cabinets! This island is another example of taking a tiny difficult space and making it pretty and hella functional.

In this case the island had to fulfill many functions:

  • Storage
  • Seating
  • Dual (or more ideally triple) functionality
  • Accommodation for an existing radiator
  • Ikea-sized budget

Tall order for a kitchen that measured barely 120 square feet!


Lest you think I never do formal drawings for a project allow me to present the following:

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction Plan

Yup, that’s right – I don’t scribble all my ideas down crazy person styles. I got mad CAD skills baby!

(To download a the full set of construction plans see below)


  • Expedit storage cube (2×2) in white
  • (2) Lengths of Ikea Numerar countertop
  • Heavy duty L-brackets
  • Light duty corner brackets
  • 1″ Wood screws (for island construction)
  • 2.5″ Screws (for wall mounting)
  • (4) Heavy duty castors


First, assemble the Expedit unit as shown below

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 1

One thing to remember when putting together the Expedit is to make sure you mount the castors far enough apart. The first holes I drilled were too closely spaced and the unit was prone to tipping if moved too quickly. I ended up removing the castors and remounting them closer to the edges.

Second, measure a length of countertop to overhang the Expedit. I wanted a small overhang at the back, just enough to cover the thin MDF backer panel (note: this doesn’t come with the Expedit but no one wants their pretty baskets falling out the back!)

To secure the countertop lay it on top of the shelves. With a pencil trace the line of the gables onto the underside of the countertop.  Attach the corner brackets to the countertop then flip it over and screw them to the gables.

Be aware the gables on the sides are basically hollow fibre board and may not offer great grip for the screws. However the centre gable and the weight of the countertop will keep it in place no problem.

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 2

For the L-shaped island the directions are uber simple. Cut two lengths of countertop with a skill saw to the dimensions as shown on the below construction plans.

Next up – mounting to the wall. I found it was easier to secure the L-brackets to the wall first. It gave the counter something to rest on while I screwed the L-bracket to the underside. If you mount the bracket to the countertop and then to the wall you’ll end up supporting the counter with your body while you screw into studs. Not ideal!

Finally, once you have the leg sitting at the angle you want (remember until now it’s been secured to the top with only small corner brackets) you should add heavy-duty L-brackets to the inside corner. Originally I wasn’t going to do this but I found the leg slid around under the counter and I wanted more structural stability than that!

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 3

One last step for extra awesomeness: Above the upper right cabinet I cut a small hole (6″x6″) with my jigsaw. Below that hole was a waste bin wedged into the basket. Perfect for cutting veggies and dumping the cuttings right into the bin. Can I get a Booyah for efficiency?

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 4

The very last step was a little mineral oil rub down to give the sexy sheen – mmmmm, wood countertop goodness!

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 5

So how did we stack up against the original requirements?

  • Storage – Baskets!  Check!
  • Seating – Stools!  Check!
  • Dual (ideally triple) functionality – Eating counter, prep counter, garbage disposal!  Check!
  • Accommodation for an existing radiator – Yup and yup!  Check!
  • Ikea-sized budget – All Ikea products (except for hardware).  We’ll call that a check!

Finally, as promised above – for a full set of construction plans click here!

And if you’ve read along this far I’m adding a couple of bonus shots. Like the extra scene at the end of the credits! After all you gotta give it up for a lady who can rock a tool belt!

DIY Ikea Hack - Kitchen Island Tutorial - Construction 6

Featured on Ikea Hackers


12 thoughts on “Ikea Hack – DIY Kitchen Island Tutorial

  1. Wow! This turned out awesome! I see a trip to Ikea in our future that’s for sure! My husband and I were just talking yesterday about putting an island in the basement workspace as we finish it! So lovely! Great inspiration!!

  2. Get out… that’s brilliant!!! This is one of those things you would pay big to have as an upgrade in your place. The baskets play off the countertops nicely and I can’t get over the hidden trash space. I think you have a future that goes well beyond Ikea Hacks.

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