Sunday 1 January 2017

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

I'm a woman of little time and little energy, with little use for fussy furniture, but a big imagination; so, naturally, Ikea is my best friend. Hand me an Ikea catalogue, and I can spend the entire day planning out an entire room full of repurposed creations, some of which could be copies of far more expensive furniture seen elsewhere.

For Christmas my partner and I received an Ikea voucher (yes, we love Swedish furniture so much that it has become a running joke between friends and family), and we decided to use it to purchase a kitchen island. As we've only got a small kitchen, storage and counter space is like gold dust - therefore a kitchen island would make our lives so much easier.

However, me being me, I was looking for something quite specific: 

1) It needs to be small enough so that it wouldn't become a hindrance, but large enough to fulfill its purpose as a place to store small kitchen appliances and crockery

2) It needs to be easily movable so that I can push it out of the way if I need to vacuum or if we have a party

3) It should be between hip and waist height so that we can use it for preparing food

4) It needs to be affordable (i.e. under £100)

T H E   O U T C O M E

After browsing the website, I found a few islands and kitchen trolleys that I liked the look of; however, they were over our budget, so I decided to get creative. I saw the Kallax, a simple, square shelving unit which had oodles of potential, and decided that this would be our starting point.

We went to the store to get a feel of what it would look like when all the components were pieced together, and excitedly made our purchase. In total, our little project came to just over £80:

Kallax Shelving Unit in White, £25
Kallax Inserts in White (x2), £18
4 pack of Rill Castors (wheels), £8
40cm Kungsfors Rail (x2), £5
Lamplig Chopping Board (x2), £20
Skydd Wood Treatment Oil, £4.50
Total = £80.50

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

We began by putting together the Kallax. Easy enough.

Then, we attached the castors to the bottom of the unit using our Black & Decker Drill. Screws are not supplied with the castors, so make sure you purchase some before you start (they need to fit a 4mm hole, and you'll need 16 of them). Luckily, we had some in our tool kit.

We then turned the unit on its side to attach the Kungsfors rails. These also need extra screws, and the fixtures overhang the unit by a few millimeters - so make sure you get the measurements right

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

After that, we put together the door inserts that would fit in the squares of the Kallax to act as cupboards. We wanted two inserts, so that we could use the other two square spaces as display shelves. Helpful tip: make sure you line the inserts up correctly, as you don't want them poking out the back of the Kallax unit and making it look un-neat.

Next were the chopping boards. As we wanted to use these as the surface for our kitchen island, they needed to be oiled to protect the wood and prevent against the build-up of bacteria. The Skydd wood oil is perfect for this, as it's a natural mineral oil which doesn't contain harmful chemicals. A bottle will last you forever, as you only really need around a tablespoonful per board, and it only needs to be topped up every couple of months.

I flipped the boards over and attached them to the top of the Kallax using large-size Command Strips (find them here on Amazon) so that the island can be easily repurposed if needed, but you can use wood glue if you have it to hand.

Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

This took around four hours to complete - and we're so in love with it. It fits our specifications exactly, and was incredibly affordable (so much so, that we were able to get a few extra pieces of home decor with our voucher!). However, I have to say that the best thing about this piece of furniture is that we put it together ourselves and made it our own.

What do you think of our creation? Have you repurposed any Ikea furniture? Let me know in the comments section below!

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Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith
Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith
Ikea Kallax Kitchen Island Hack by Jen Lou Meredith

Shop the look

You've got the island, now it's time to accessorise it. Shop my kitchen island look on Amazon below:

This post contains affiliate links - this in no way affects what you pay for products, it just means that I get a very small income for the work that I do on this blog. I am in no way unfairly biased towards certain brands that allow me to use affiliate links; I recommend products that I genuinely use and like, or similar products if I cannot find the exact product.


  1. Excellent idea. Do you have any idea how to put pull out wicker basket on one box for fruuts

  2. Our command strips won't stick? Any tips?

    1. Hi! Mine don't stick down completely - it's more so that that boards don't move around. If you want the boards to be more secure, I would use a strong glue :)

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Very creative! Turn the chopping boards by ninety degrees and you will have nice 'handles' on both sides to pull it.

  5. This is great! I've thought of doing something like this but wasn't sure it would be tall enough. Is it about normal counter height? What are the dimensions of the finished product, mainly height. Could you fit a bar stool under the "counter" if it stuck out far enough?

    1. It's a little shorter than my built-in kitchen counters. It's around 85cm in height so probably a little short for a bar stool, but Ikea have really good bar tables like this one > :)

      Hope this helps!


  6. A friend had gifted me her Kallax shelf and I was at a loss of what I was going to do with it, so I was super excited when I came upon you hack, because I was also in need of some additional counter-space. I tried this hack, thank you so much for all the details and necessary pieces.

    What I did differently
    -I bought Kallax wheels (a bit more money)
    -I am using this as an extension of my counter so I put 3/4" plywood on top of shelves
    -I used a rubber mat to keep the boards from sliding and I can still turn the boards over if I want to use the other side

    What I can't recomend
    -I needed to cut the boards to fit into the empty spot in my kitchen. I DO NOT recommend cutting the Lamplig boards to fit. They are made of bamboo and the saw just chewed up the boards and caused a great deal of splintering. I ended up sanding down the rough edges and they seem better now but just finished the project so I am not sure how my mistake will endure but I wanted to share this warning.

  7. I am so happy i came across your diy. I have very limited storage and counter space and this will make a great kitchen island for my small appliances. Taking my first trip to IKEA, can't wait.

  8. This is a great idea! And looks fairly simple too! Thanks for the post!

  9. What is the length of this when the boards are in as need 100 mil minimum for a project I have in mind

  10. Hi. I’m moving to a 490 sq.ft. apartment with a pretty small combined living room/ kitchen. Very little counter space and storage. So, I thought an island with an eating area would work. But, damn they are expensive!
    Your solution is much cheaper, and a bit smaller... both important.
    Here are my modification thoughts.
    Kallax coasters bring it up to counter height.
    Close in back with bead board or something similar.
    Attach the Norberg table to the back for eating, working, etc.

    So, thanks for the inspiration.

    1. Totally agree they're so expensive! These sound like really cool modifications and I'd love to see them executed - let me know if you do anything similar. Thanks for commenting!

  11. Where did you get the doors?

    1. The doors are from Ikea :)

  12. The chopping boards say 20" wide and the shelf of 30" how did you make it fit?


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