If you’re drooling over kitchens on Pinterest or HGTV but aren’t into the prices for high end components you’re in good company. Websites and how-to shows have done a lot to re-invent the do-it-yourself mind set. Your first effort probably won’t be featured in Architectural Digest but you’ll enjoy the work and appreciate the object every time you use it.  Not only is DIY a way to save money but it pays an extra dividend in the satisfaction of accomplishing something worthwhile with your own labor.

Small kitchen island with a wood top.

A small island that didn’t break the bank is a good starting point.

This picture is a great inspiration in that the wood top is within the beginners’ ability and the framework is all easily constructed from pipe and fittings. There are some great ideas and instructions on the Simplified Building website. No special tools beyond a couple of wrenches, screwdrivers, a drill, some sand paper and sealer are needed. If you feel ambitious you can add a couple of lower shelves simply by adding a layer of pipe frame work in the middle and cutting the corners of a wood blank to allow for the legs. Or you might put some “S” hooks along the side pipes to hang pots and pans. You’ll have made a fun and satisfying weekend project that will offer many years of service. If you move on to a larger home and have a more sophisticated kitchen your little island will always be useful in a craft room or garage.

Wood island in a blue kitchen.

A bigger island may be what you need to extend your counter space.

White kitchen with a small island.

Even a small island can be a great addition to the functionality of a kitchen

A bigger wood countertop isn’t any more complicated to do as a DIY project than a small one. You just need a little help to move it around and a commitment to a bit more elbow grease for the sanding and sealing. A kitchen island with an overhang for eating at is a logical DIY choice. It’s still a simple shape and easy enough to do with a few basic tools. When you’re installing the top to a wood base it’s just a matter of going underneath and inserting wood screws into the island top upward through the cabinet frame.

Small kitchen island.

This island has a small pair of wood brackets to stabilize the top.

The base of your island can be anything from the old table or pipe construction shown here to a baby grand piano if you have one sitting around the house. I made an island myself using a big wooden wire spool from the electric company for the base. I put castors on the bottom and some hooks under the top edge for hanging pots. Great counter space and good storage too.

Black dresser with wood top.

A well constructed dresser gets a new top and becomes an island.

You can buy a basic slab of hardwood from a big box store like Ikea. It will be a pre-determined size which you may need to cut to fit your project. At J. Aaron we offer DIY wood countertops in any wood you like with all the cutting done for you. It’s not rocket science but if you don’t have experience or tools it may be a lot easier to have us do it.

Wood table made into a kitchen island.

A sturdy table makes a good base for an island. Adding the bottom shelf makes for more storage and stability.

Kitchen upgrades can be seriously expensive. If you invest some time and imagination you can add counter space and storage on a shoestring.  If you rent your home this kind of project can make your space more pleasant and the investment isn’t lost when you move as it will go along. Even if money isn’t the issue it feels great to do something this cool with your own hands.

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