Build your own kitchen island from two sofa tables and a worktop. This custom solution has plenty of storage, plus DIY bragging rights.
- 2 tables sofa stock (see note below)
- Plastic laminate
- Circular saw
- 100 and 150 grit sandpaper
- Sanding block or 2×4 wood
- 1-1/4-inch and 1-1/2-inch thick thread screws
- 2 sheets of 3/4-inch fiberboard (MDF) (I used Trupan brand ultralight MDF)
- 4 locking and swivel castors with rods and 4 sockets (see note below)
- Latex primer
- Satin or semi-gloss paint (I chose Sherwin-Williams Freshwater 6774)
- Custom countertop (I used Samsung Staron Peak FP100 quartz composite from the Tempest collection)
Coffee tables: I built this island from two Hemnes coffee tables (ikea.com). It measures 61-3/4 inches long and 15-3/4 inches wide, making for a generously sized island. You can, of course, substitute a pair of smaller tables; just make sure it measures 28 to 31 inches tall, so after adding wheels and a tabletop, you can get a comfortable working height of about 36 inches.
Wheels: IMPORTANT! Make sure the wheels are rated to support the weight of the completed island with the top. I used 3 inch diameter casters, although you could use 4 inch casters if you need the extra height to get a finished counter height closer to 36 inches.
Place both coffee tables upside down on the floor, then cleanly and straight cut the back legs flush with the bottom frame pieces of the tables. To do this, use a square to mark the cut line on all four sides of each leg to be cut. Then make the cut with a handsaw, using a sheet of thin, hard material — such as plastic laminate — to protect the surrounding wood from the blade’s teeth.
Note: If you find it difficult to make the cut without scratching the surrounding wood, cut the legs with a hairline and sand them flush with the bottom edge.
To strengthen and strengthen the assembled tables, sandwich a panel of MDF between the backs, cut to a width and length that match the height and length of the tables back. The ends (short edges) of the panel must be straight and smooth, so use a straight and circular saw to make the cuts. Then smooth out any sea marks on that edge with 100-grit sandpaper and a sanding block. The block should be at least 12 inches long to keep a straight and square edge (a scrap of 2×4 works well). Lightly round the edges of the same edge with sandpaper, matching the rounded edges on the legs.
Attach the MDF panel to one table back with 1-3/4 inch coarse-thread screws driven through the back frame of the table and the MDF. For best results, drill countersink pilot holes in the frame pieces, drilling from the inside of the table cubbies. A screw every 10 inches or so will do the trick. Use the same method to align and attach this assembly to the other table. Place the full base assembly upside down on a flat floor to check that all four legs make contact with the floor. You may need to cut some wood off a leg to fix each swing.
Turn the base assembly upside down and mark the centers of each bottom leg by drawing diagonal lines between the corners. At each marked center, drill a hole sized to accept the caster socket, then gently tap a socket into each hole. For now, don’t insert the Caster stems into the sockets.
Before applying primer and paint, sand all exposed surfaces (including the boxes) with 150-grit sandpaper. Then apply a good quality latex primer. Exposed MDF edges will greedily absorb primer, so apply two coats to those areas, sanding lightly between coats to knock down any raised MDF fibers. Then apply two top coats of paint. Allow the paint to dry and harden completely before handling. Two days at 70 degrees F and average humidity should be enough. (Follow paint can recommendations.)
Build your own countertop or have one fabricated at a Kitchen Island cabinet or countertop store. Because we chose a quartz surface material that requires specialized cutting and joining tools and supplies, we had the work done by a professional fabricator. Although Samsung’s material is only 1/2-inch thick, our fabricator built it on and around a two-layer ¾-inch laminated ultra-lightweight MDF board to create a top that looks like a quartz slab with a thickness of 2 inches. This thickness provides superior visual weight and makes the surface much closer to the optimal final height of 36 inches. Working inside the upper cabinets, attach the top using 1-1/2 inch thick threaded screws through the sofa tops and into the countertop. As before, drill countersink pilot holes for those screws.
Equip cubes with Kitchen Island storage options (see below) and attach wheels.
From left to right: Create cutting boards, trays, and Kitchen Island cookie sheets from tensioned curtain rods. Install cabinet rod brackets inside an open island and insert a dowel to hold a roll of towels. Thread dowels through the open holes of a plastic bin to keep stacks of paper plates and napkins upright. You can’t go wrong with labeled baskets—group similar items to make baking easy.