How We Made Our DIY Kitchen Island Look Custom-built

7 Materials
3 Days


Okay, so you’ve stacked a few cabinets together and are wondering how to make your DIY kitchen island look more, uhh, professional? We got you.

You can read a complete breakdown on this project on our blog HERE.

Add inner support

So we knew from the get-go that the bookcase would be the countertop support on the right side, but we needed to figure out a solution for the left side so it A) didn’t look lopsided, and B) had the same amount of support on both sides.

We grabbed a few scrap 2x4s and made two big rectangles using pocket holes (but you could easily just use screws if you’d like).

We duplicated our first 2×4 rectangle and put them side-by-side, which is honestly just personal preference because we wanted the support to match roughly how thick the bookcase would be on the other side.

We attached the 2×4 rectangles to the cabinets by adding a few screws from the inside of the cabinet into the rectangle.

Build your bookcase

We used a 1×8 for this. We had two one piece that was the whole height of the base cabinet for one side, and another piece that was the height of the base cabinet minus the height of the baseboard (ours was a 1×6 ripped down to 4.5″ tall). We had two shelves, and set the bottom one to align with that shorter side piece, using a level to make sure it was straight on the other side before nailing in place from the outside of the side 1x8s. We added another shelf roughly in the middle of the opening.

Attach the bookcase to the outer cabinet

Now you’ve got a whole bookcase. Grab a piece of scrap wood you can cut for supports (we used three pieces of 2×4 cut to about 4.5”), and hold the bookcase in its place, making sure it’s aligned with the front of the cabinet.

Slide your supports underneath (this will probably be a tight fit so you might need to wedge it or even use a mallet to tap it into place) and nail through the back of the bookcase into the cabinet in a couple of places.

Add a plywood wrap

The bookcase is looking pretty fancy, but the rest is just kind of cobbled together. Using the same ¼” plywood you used for the back of the bookcase, cut a piece to cover the whole back of the cabinets where the stools will go, a piece for the inside edge of the 2×4 support rectangles, a piece for the front of the 2×4 supports, and one more piece for the outside of the island on the 2×4 support side. Nail all those pieces into place with your nail gun.

Add baseboards and trim

We ran a baseboard of 1×6 ripped down to 4.5” (ripped meaning we ran it through the table saw longways so instead of 5.5” tall it was 4.5” tall) along the whole outer edge of the island, beveling the edges so they looked more seamless in each edge.

I’m going to be honest with you here: my plywood pieces were terrible. I cut the plywood using a jigsaw on our kitchen table and let me tell ya, that plywood was thin and wobbly and so were my cuts.

Caulk and wood fill

We wood filled each hole (which was a lot because we got wild with that nail gun) and caulked all the seams (which were also a lot because we used so much trim) but this step is so worth it for that really profesh finish.

After the caulk had dried a while and the wood filler turned white, we used a sanding block to flatten the nail holes out, and then wiped the whole thing down so there wasn’t any dust.

Suggested materials:
  • Kitchen cabinets
  • 2x4s
  • 0.25" plywood
See all materials
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  • 17335038 17335038 on Jun 15, 2021

    I thought the first photo shows the finished island.icon

  • 34354174 34354174 on Aug 11, 2021

    Love it.

    I have that same tile in my kitchen. When installed 17 yrs ago, I was going for a French Country Cafe look. Now I have changed so many things that the brown tile looks outdated....but that blue on the lower cabinets and island make the tile look awesome.

    I made an island out of a dresser and painted it black. So...I am thinking black grout and that same blue for my cabinets.

    Thank you for the inspiration and my husband thanks you for saving the cost of new tiles!!