A great kitchen island goes a long way. It gives you more counter space to work with, expands your storage set-up, and if you choose a stylish option, it can bring your kitchen together—adding that je ne sais quoi your space desperately needs.
But finding the right kitchen island takes a little effort. Your favorite store-bought option may not tick all the boxes. And if it doesn’t, you’re not out of luck. Enterprising shoppers have started making their own kitchen islands using pieces they found at IKEA, and these IKEA kitchen island hacks make it easy to score a custom island at a fraction of the cost.
To help you understand all your options, we rounded up some of the best IKEA kitchen island hacks we’ve seen. These ideas are great for inspiration—they’ll help you envision the kitchen island of your dreams, and once it’s time to execute it, you'll know exactly how to do it.
Line Your Island With Custom Side Panels
Transform your kitchen island by lining the outside of it with wood, custom panels, or some other striking material. This option is a fun alternative to a striking coat of paint: instead of adding a new color to your space, layer in a fun texture.
Paint Your Island a Fun Color
Your IKEA kitchen island hack doesn’t have to be over-the-top. With a fresh coat of paint, you can match your island to your cabinets or add a pop of contrast to your kitchen—all without reaching for your toolbox.
Make Space for Bar Stools
If eat-in space is limited in your kitchen, build an island that doubles as a dining nook. Snag an extra-long countertop, and let it hang off the side of your island. This overhang is the perfect place to slide a few bar stools—giving you a cozy spot to sit down the next time you enjoy a meal.
Piece Together a Modular Storage Island
Browse IKEA’s kitchen section, and you’ll find all kinds of kitchen cabinets, which you can piece together to create the exact kitchen—or kitchen island—you want. This project is more involved than some of the other hacks on our list. But at the end of it, you’ll have a custom kitchen island that flexibly meets your needs and perfectly suits your space.
Customize Your Cabinet Fronts
One of the most classic ways to upgrade any piece from IKEA? Spring for custom cabinet fronts. Lots of brands specialize in cabinet doors and drawer fronts that are designed to fit IKEA furniture, giving you a range of pretty materials to choose from as you create your custom piece.
Top Your Island With a Marble Slab
Your kitchen island needs a countertop, so why not invest in something special? A thoughtfully chosen marble slab can make your island feel like a luxury, even if it’s just a metal kitchen cart with a countertop stuck on top.
Build Storage Cubbies for Your Cookbooks
Kitchen islands are great for storage, so as you build your custom island, think about the things you need to store and make room for them. If your cookbook collection is well-stocked, give it a home on your island. Add shelves to a store-bought island, use a bookcase as your base, or pair modular cabinets with cubbies until you have the storage set-up you need.
Add a Built-In Stovetop
If your kitchen is low on cooking space, use your island to bridge the gap. IKEA sells a range of induction cooktops—and all of them are sleek, space-efficient, and surprisingly easy to build into your island.
Mix and Match Your Island Base
The beautiful thing about hacking your kitchen island? You don’t have to stick to just one base. So pair your base cabinets with a set of metal legs, and use your countertop to connect the two. The cabinets will give you a place to store your stuff, while the metal legs free up space for bar stools.
Turn a Bookcase Into an Island
Lots of IKEA kitchen island hacks start with a store-bought island, but it doesn't have to. Don’t limit yourself to one aisle of the store—grab a spacious bookcase, flip it on its side, and attach a set of furniture legs to its base. Once you’ve finished things off with a hand-picked countertop, you’ll have a sleek kitchen island that’s great for storage—and that gives you lots of extra counter space, too.
Add an Overhead Storage Rack
There are lots of ways to add storage space to your island, so don’t confine yourself to classic options, like cabinets, cubbies, and drawers. By attaching an overhead storage rack to your island, you can put the space above your island to good use. And you can diversify your storage set-up, giving yourself an easy place to hang pots, pans, and other kitchen tools.
Stick a Sink Inside Your Island
Building a sink into your island may seem a little intense for a DIY project. But if you start with an IKEA cabinet system, it isn’t all that hard to do. Sure, you may need to hire a plumber to get your sink in working order. But you should be able to handle the assembly work yourself.
Sneak in a Pullout Trash Can
Most trash cans aren’t cute enough to double as décor, so hack your kitchen island to keep yours out of sight. If you’re adding new drawers and cabinets to your island, be sure to add a sliding drawer for your trash can. Then, tuck your trash can inside—and open the drawer only when you need to throw something away.
Line Your Island With Wine Crates
If your IKEA island doesn’t accommodate everything you need to store, upgrade your storage set-up with a few pretty wine crates. You can attach these wine crates to your island to create a built-in storage rack. Or you can leave them loose—sliding them on and off your island any time you need to.
Match Your Island to Your Kitchen Cabinets
If you’re adding a store-bought island to your kitchen, it probably won’t match your cabinets—but that doesn’t have to be the case. By pairing your island design with your cabinets, you can craft a sleek, color-coordinated kitchen that looks luxuriously custom.
Pair Two Matching Islands
Why limit yourself to just one kitchen island? If you have the space for it, snag two matching kitchen islands, and place them next to each other. With a few simple tools, you can connect the two—creating your own mega-island. But even if you leave them unconnected, you’ll have twice the counter space, storage space, and eat-in space you had before.
Upgrade Your Island With a Few Finishing Touches
Sometimes, hacking your kitchen island doesn’t require any elbow grease at all. Instead, it’s a matter of adding thoughtful finishing touches that make your island a lovelier addition to your kitchen. So install an overhead storage rack you can line with string lights and vines. Invest in a few cozy candles. And soften your bar stools with cushions that are sized to fit them perfectly.
These tweaks may not be as exciting as hacks that involve drills and paintbrushes. But they can make a big impact on your island—changing the way it looks and feels.