Old IKEA Kitchen Cart Gets a Second Life

2 Materials
1 Day
While working on a rental kitchen makeover, I needed to find a kitchen cart or island to add more counter space for food preparation. I considered buying a new a new island or building one from scratch but I opted instead to reuse an old kitchen cart instead.
The kitchen cart It was in pretty bad shape but I knew I could bring it back to life, and also make it even better by customizing it to work with the new look of the kitchen.
The existing casters were worn down and didn't work anymore so they needed to be replaced. Because the new casters I bought were shorter (2 ½” inch ones) and had a bigger base, I needed to do a MacGyver fix: I screwed a piece of ½” plywood to the bottom of the legs and used that to secure the new casters to. 
The first thing I did was replace top - it was beyond repair so I removed it (it was just screwed in place)
The top was also beyond repair so I removed it (it was just screwed in place).
The original top was 23” x 19” and I wanted to make the new top slightly wider and longer. I used four 1” x 6” boards to make a new top that’s 22” wide x 32” long. Because I had limited tools on hand, I kept this build very simple by using 1”x2” furring strips to attach the wider boards together.  I was using SPAX screws that don’t need to have holes pre-drilled but if you use regular screws, you’ll want to pre-drill holes before screwing the boards together.
I wanted to be able to take this apart later if necessary so I didn’t put glue in between the boards. After doing 1 end and one side, I screwed in place the middle 1”x2" which is cut short to allow the top to sit flush on the sides of the cart base, and I used clamps to keep the boards close together while screwing it in place.
The edges look thicker thanks to the 1”x2” but it’s not very pretty to look at so I glued and nailed ¼” thick 1” x 2” boards to the sides for a cleaner look. Then I stained the top and reattached it to the cart using the existing brackets.
The MacGyver fix for the casters created a shelf of sorts and it gave me the idea to use the space to make a spice rack.
I had lots of wood left over from other projects so I used that to make it. First I  added some wood edging to pretty up the sides of the plywood. Then I attached a piece of ¼” thick plywood to the existing shelves to make the back of the spice rack. For the bottom shelf, I simply glued  a ¼” thick 3” wide pine board wedged between the legs. For the top shelf, I used small pieces of quarter round molding as supports for 1”x2” and then I glued another piece of ¼” thick 3” wide pine board to complete the shelf.
I sanded and stained the base of the cart to make all the different woods that I used blend in and the cart was ready for the kitchen!
It took a bit of time and effort to bring this cart back to life, and the total cost came in around $50 but it feels really great to reuse something that otherwise would have gone into a landfill, plus it gave me the chance to customize the cart to fit the kitchen perfectly and to make it even more functional. Win-Win!
You can see more details on this project and the entire reversible rental kitchen makeover in this video.
Suggested materials:
  • Old IKEA kitchen cart
  • Casters
Engineer Your Space
Want more details about this and other DIY projects? Check out my blog post!
Frequently asked questions
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  • Michelle Jones Michelle Jones on Jun 15, 2018

    What paint or stain did you use on the top of the island? Is it waterproof? I am about to paint my kitchen cabinets and I like the effect you have achieved.

  • Bob Campolongo Bob Campolongo on Jun 22, 2018

    Does it roll freely when you are working on something?

  • Mary S. Duncan Mary S. Duncan on Jun 22, 2018

    I love your kitchen. What is the material for the backsplash? Looks awesome.

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