5 DIY kitchen island ideas for a quick and creative makeover on a budget

Want a weekend project? These DIY kitchen island ideas are the perfect way to make a statement in your space

DIY kitchen island ideas: star tiles on back of island
(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

Looking for a cheap and easy kitchen update? These DIY kitchen island ideas are just the ticket. Whether you're tired of your current island and want to jazz it up, or you love the idea of having that extra bit of space but don't have much budget, we've rounded up our favorite ways to make a statement with this kitchen staple – whether you're a DIY guru or can just about hold a paintbrush.

Want more kitchen ideas? Our gallery has all the inspiration you need.  And for all the kitchen island ideas check out our full feature. 

1. Tile the back of your island...

(Image credit: Georgia Burns)

We're au fait with tiles on splashbacks and floors, but how about the back of your kitchen island? It's the very definition of a style statement and can be done on a budget if you're savvy about sourcing the materials. Use muted tones for a subtle approach, or opt for all-out pattern and color to contrast with a plain wood floor. Use plain tiles elsewhere to focus all the attention on your new attraction.

2. ... or try your hand at paneling

Steve and Katelin Haworth’s industrial grey kitchen has been lifted with a pop of blush pink

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Prefer a more pared-back approach, or love the natural feel of wood? Paneling your island is a great way to add texture and interest to a space without making it the center of attention (although let's face it, our eyes are firmly on this gorgeous design). Classic tongue and groove is perfect for more traditional kitchens, or go super contemporary with thinner strips of wood.

3. Upcycle an old piece of furniture

extended kitchen with bi-fold doors and a vintage kitchen island

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

A kitchen island doesn't have to come as part of a new kitchen – in fact, it doesn't even have to match! If you'd love an island but don't want to spend loads of money, try repurposing an old item of furniture. We've seen plenty of brilliant ideas, from this original Georgian unit to old sideboards and even an Ikea Kallax unit. Whether it needs a good sanding down, a lick of paint or a new worktop added on top, you can personalize your piece any way you like for a unique look.

For all the tips on how to paint furniture head to our guide. 

4. Replace the handles for an easy update

Lily Pickard house: kitchen with dark wooden painted units

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies ©Future)

It's a tip as old as time when it comes to easy kitchen updates, but if your island has drawers for storing cooking bits and bobs, consider switching up the handles. You can buy all sorts of sizes and styles from the likes of Dowsing & Reynolds, but we love this leather pull design for a softer approach to hardware.

5. Paint a butcher's block for a (small) statement piece

Cook's companion with baking supplies on surface

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

No space? No problem! A butcher's block is a brilliant solution to a small room, thanks to its size and flexibility, and it's a super easy DIY project to get on with one weekend. Source a second-hand option from the likes of Ebay, then get to work sanding and painting it for a stand-out piece – check out our suggestions for the best paint for kitchen cabinets.

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Ellen Finch
Ellen Finch

After a stint writing for true life titles, Ellen made her venture into the world of interiors in 2017 and became Features Editor on Real Homes magazine. Since she doesn't own her own home, she's always taking inspiration from Real Homes' renters' section, which is full of clever tips and tricks.