Flip through any kitchen-remodeling magazine and you’ll likely see plenty of islands. Kitchen islands are popular because they provide extra storage, extra counter space and they create a central location for people to gather and socialize. An island can greatly improve the functionality of an average-size kitchen — and you don’t need an overhaul to accommodate one. The island project that I built for this article was easy to build. easy to modify and relatively inexpensive. The total cost was $500 for materials, and construction didn’t require any stationary power tools.
The secret to the design is using stock or ready-to-assemble (RTA) cabinets for the island's base. These cabinets are sized to fit in a variety of spaces, so they're easy to mix and match into different configurations. We covered the unfinished sides with 1/4-in. bead board, added a simple laminate countertop and installed casters to make the island mobile.
Determine the island size
An island doesn't have to be big to be useful. In many cases adding a small island to a kitchen that has limited counter space makes a bigger impact than adding a large island to a large kitchen.
Although your kitchen doesn’t have to be large to accommodate an island, you’ll need at least 50 sq. ft. of open floor space. An island that’s forced into a tight space will prove to be a hindrance.
Large kitchens pose their own challenges. Big islands are not necessarily better — they can hamper traffic flow. You should be able to reach the center of the island from at least two sides.
On the other hand, you don’t want to make the island too small. To integrate well with the rest of the kitchen, the island should be no more than 60 in. from the existing cabinets. Otherwise it may seem too inconvenient for daily use.
Once you have determined the size of the island…
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complete instructions and how-to photos.