How We Built Our Kitchen Island on a Budget

I knew as soon we moved into our home back in September 2017 that the first thing on the to-do list would be to add an island in our kitchen. First off, I’d always dreamed of having one, and two, it actually made sense to have one in the space. Keep reading if you’re interested to learn how we built ours on a $1,000 budget!

Measuring: We had a ball park idea of how large we wanted the island to be. Literally, we took a tape measure and tape to mark the floor and stood there to see if the spacing felt “right.” Super professional and specific haha.

We used our little bar here as a way to eyeball the size of the island we wanted. We knew this was smaller than what we’d like, but it made for a helpful starting point. We got to see how easy or inconvenient maneuvering around it was and how many people comfortably fit in the space.

Cabinets: With that number of inches in mind from taping the floor, we went to Home Depot and looked at simple, white base cabinets like these. Honestly, it was getting overwhelming considering all the styles, so per usual, I reverted back to my comfort zone of uncomplicated and affordable. Always trust your gut! Linked above are our center drawers and here are the end types.

Total cost of cabinets: About $350-400. Full transparency though–we grabbed some random old models off the floor that were being discontinued and were majorly discounted. Go walk around the stores, you’ll probably find some random amazing deals, too.


This picture cracks me up. It was clearly the in between phase when we had the cabinets in place but no counter top or siding, but we still wanted to host family for a Sunday lunch. Do you love the cute “wire counters”?

Stone: Oh man. I looked at stone forever on Pinterest. Granite is beautiful but because it’s a natural stone, finding one that’s all or mostly white is really, really hard. So we opted for quartz instead and are so happy with it. It’s nonporous and very easy to clean.

The link says granite, but this is a quartz and almost identical to the slab we picked.

We chose our slab of quartz from Atlas Granite in Derry, NH, and it cost us about $500, delivery and installation included. They call them “remnant pieces” left over from other jobs and it’s much more affordable than ordering a whole piece. The company will finish off the edges for you and coat the stone in sealant.

Accessories: We went for a bead board siding style on the ends and back of the island to match our entry way. You buy them in sheets, then glue them in place. Clamp them for a day or so, the nail gun those babies so they’re never popping off. (FYI I didn’t go anywhere near the nail gun.)

Here’s a picture of the clamping after we’d glued the bead board in place.

Let’s talk about the reality–building vs custom ordering. Which makes sense for you?

My dad and uncle measuring 2x4s (I think!?) to place the cabinets on top of being drilling into the tile. I held my breath this entire time. You-can-never-change-this-or-go-back projects terrify me.

We’re not very handy people but we do like to learn! Those clamps in the above picture? My uncle’s. The drills and saw used to secure the cabinets into the floors? My uncle’s and my dad’s. In short, we had a lot of help.

When deciding whether to build your own island or have one custom ordered, here’s my advice.

Are you handy or know someone with tools who is willing to help? Build.

Do you want to learn how to tackle more projects in the future on your own? Build.

Do you want more control over each dollar you spend on the project? Build.

Are you someone who has a flexible budget and a clear vision of what you want? Custom order.

Do you struggle with spending money and things possibly still being imperfect? Custom order.

A little fun nugget about our cabinets–they don’t exactly match in color. Oops. I said before, we got a crazy deal because we found cabinets being discontinued? Well…they’re a different white than the end cabinets. And I came close to having a meltdown about it after we finished the project! God bless Mike and his patience.

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading!

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