Adding a Kitchen Island to My Small Kitchen

When you have a small kitchen like I do, there are not a lot of options for an affordable and functional kitchen island. I have looked into making one to hacking IKEA shelves into a narrow island, but finally found the perfect option to fit my decorating style.

A metal kitchen cart turned into an island for food prep. It holds a repurposed wine crate that was turned into a recipe card holder.

I have “a thing” about a few things…  like pom-poms and polka dots, but I also have “a thing” for furniture on wheels. I made a craft cart on wheels when I first started blogging and the rolling desk that I made for a BHG furniture hack contest. I even added wheels to a bifold door in my previous house.

For the past year I have been seriously searching for a small island to buy or make for my small kitchen. In my previous home, we had a nice sized kitchen island that is shown above.

Budget kitchen remodeling ideas
Kitchen island in my previous house

I took for granted the extra counter space that kitchen island in my previous house gave me. It was the perfect place to set up a bar or buffet for a party or gathering of family and friends. It was also nice to have when I was cooking or baking and had a lot of dishes, pots and pans coming on and off the stove or out of the oven.

adding an island to a small kitchen

I missed having an island and didn’t think I could make one work in my small kitchen, but I really needed more counter space and had to figure something out.

Looking at the options I was finding made me realize that I wanted a small kitchen island on wheels instead of a built-in version.

This would make it versatile and easy to move when needed. I also didn’t want it to be white. I wanted a center island that would contrast with my painted white kitchen cabinets.

Stainless steel long kitchen island on wheels

As I was browsing through the latest Home Depot catalog, I saw this image of a stainless steel rolling table. I loved it and thought it would be perfect to create an island for my kitchen. Right price and style, but it was too long for the space in my kitchen – 60″ long. :-(

I read more of the description and realized that the rolling table also came in other sizes – 36″ and 48″ long, but they were out of stock. This made me want it even more.

I figured it had to be sold elsewhere as many online retailers sell the same items and I was right. I found the same Stainless Steel Commercial Kitchen Prep & Work Table w/ 4 Casters  at and bought a 36″ long one that is 24 deep.

I Now Have a Kitchen Island On Wheels In My Small Kitchen

center kitchen island on wheels.

I love it.  My rolling kitchen island… aka.. a rolling table that comes with two options.

industrial kitchen island cart on wheels for a small kitchen

You can add the wheels, like I did or add stationary feet. Two of the wheels have a locking feature that keep the table from moving. To allow the table to move, you simply press the metal lever to On or Off using your foot.

roll around kitchen island of a small kitchen

Adding the wheels did make the island about 3-inches higher than my counters, so we made a little tweak to the legs/metal poles.

Movable metal rolling island in a small white kitchen.

I also added a large basket I had that fit perfectly on the bottom shelf. But then I added another shelf.

Adding More Storage to My Kitchen Island Cart

A metal kitchen cart turned into an island for food prep. It holds a repurposed wine crate that was turned into a recipe card holder.

Since I first posted this post about my rolling kitchen island, we had the kitchen floor refinished and I added a second shelf to the cart to hold more items.

My kitchen island after getting a second shelf.

To do this I had to buy a second cart to get the shelf, but now I have back up parts if I ever need them.

White plates, bowls and ramekins in a wood box on kitchen cart island.

Having the second shelf with the open basket storage underneath has made the the cart one very functional kitchen island. I can’t imagine my kitchen without it.

To read more about creating spaces to function and look just as you would like, head over to this post: Creating a Space That Will Inspire You

How to Cut the Metal Poles to Lower a Rolling Table to Island Counter Height

We needed to cut the legs/metal poles so they would be the same height as the kitchen counters, which are 35 inches high.

supplies needed:

  • hack saw with metal cutting blade
How to cut metal poles to shorten a kitchen island cart on wheels

We cut 2-5/8″ off each metal pole using a hack saw to bring the table when assembled with wheels to the 35″ counter height.

I thought it was going to be hard, but my husband had the poles cut in about 15 minutes.  He used a metal file to smooth the cut edge.

kitchen island idea for small kitchens

The rolling table, now my kitchen island, looks and works just the way I was hoping. Left just as is or…

Movable metal rolling island in a small white kitchen.

…with an added basket for storage, or even…

A metal kitchen cart turned into an island for food prep. It holds a repurposed wine crate that was turned into a recipe card holder.

…with an added metal shelf to hold even more. This little island has become the most used part of my kitchen now.

free standing island for small kitchens


Metal rolling table made into and island for a small kitchen

More Kitchen Ideas

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  1. Alyssa Reeves says:

    Diane, I want to join your Pom pom-polka dot-things-on-wheels Club! Stumbled on your blog searching for a diy painting tutorial and just love all your projects and also your fearlessness with paint! On the post about painting the seagrass rug trim, did you make the giant pom poms on the ottoman slipcovers? They are adorable! Thank you for sharing your craftiness & all your experiments.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Alyssa –

      Thanks for the nice note. I am so happy that you found me and you found inspiration. That is the best thing to hear. :-) Yes, I made the pom-pom trim slipcovers on the ottomans. Here is a link to the post all about how I did it.

      The pom-poms are even removable so you can wash the slipcover when needed.

      1. Alyssa Reeves says:

        oh thank you! I shoud’ve searched your site first for Pom Poms, knowing you are an enthusiast. I recently put large hand made poms on some curtains and I may need to redo them to attach them with velcro trim for the sake of future washing — appreciated that pro tip!

        1. Diane Henkler says:

          Hi Alyssa –

          Thanks. Adding the Velcro takes a little time, but is worth adding if you want to keep the covers around for a long time. To dust the pom-poms when the slipcovers are being washed, I just shake them to remove any dust.

  2. I believe that the island is the best solution with an open kitchen. The comfort of work is amazing, especially when you have guests and you can still talk to them while preparing dishes. Your kitchen is unique!

  3. Hi Diane – love the update of your island, and also the floor mat – comfort, practicality and beauty all in one! Can you please source your lovely cutting board for us?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lori – Thanks – now that I have an island, I don’t know how I lived without it. :-) I made the cutting board. You can find out how I made it in this post:

  4. I love that island solution, it looks great. I have a question on the gel mats, we just moved into a new home with wood floors. I have never had wood floors before in the kitchen and I am scared to put anything on them, do these mats leave any residue or change the wood floor in any way? My feet do hurt from the hard floors and would love to get these mats. Stupid question maybe but we are babying this new house.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Sherry –

      If the mat is a GelPro or another high quality gel mat, it won’t damage the floor at all. Once you have one, you will never go back to using anything else in front of the sink. They have so many colors, styles and patterns now which makes them even better.

      When I pick it up to clean the floor, the bond between it and the floor sometimes seems a little sticky, but it really isn’t. I don’t place the mat back down until the floor is dry. To clean the mat itself, I wash it with hot sudsy water and then dry it with a towel.

      I have has a wood floor in my kitchen for over 25 years now. The only thing that damages them are chair legs. The repetitive motion of pushing the chair in and out while being sat on is where you will see damage. We used to use plastic disc sliders on each chair leg, but found the felt rounds work much better and don’t make any marks.

      Hope this helps you decide.

  5. Sue Bauman says:

    You have hung up your Grandbaby pics on the side of your fridge! Very sweet. I really like the openness of the island you chose; you always pick just the right item for the job and space!

  6. Sharon Hines says:

    You are so stinkin’ resourceful! I love your new island and am so happy you got just were you wanted.

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Sharon – Both Ed and I are loving it and wish we added the cart sooner. It makes the kitchen so much more efficient to work in.

  7. What a great and multi functional solution for your kitchen!! Love the stainless as it will be easy to clean ?

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Lynn –

      Thanks – I wasn’t sure how easy the stainless would be to clean, but it is! Another reason I am loving it.

  8. Shelby Hill says:

    Greetings, Diane –
    This upgrade may not look significant to others, but, I can only imagine the functionality difference it has made in your kitchen. Way to go!
    As a fellow bargain/repurposing-lover, I wanted to share with you one of my BEST EVER Habitat ReStore finds. I will show the BEFORE shot in my large, farm kitchen. You can see the space is just begging for an island…and the after with my treasure. Having looked at various store options – all of which were in insubstantial and flimsy, I felt, ranging in price from $129 – 325; I happened to be in my local ReStore and found the white island above…at that time it was painted a bilous BLUE ENAMEL – truly ghastly. So many shoppers cannot see beyond a new coat of paint…it is solid wood; almost as heavy as my piano, has the lower shelf and can you see the drawer??? Perfect for napkin rings and placemats. $10.00!! Delivered!!! Couldn’t be happier.

  9. Very smart and very stylish! I wish I had room for one (no island here either). And the mat is cute–but how do you clean them? I am a messy cook!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Caroline – The GelPro mats are easy to clean – you simply wipe them off with a soapy rag. When mine gets really dirty, I wash it with hot sudsy water and let it air dry outside. They last for a very long time. The blue and white one I just got is lighter in color than my previous mat which is a black marble pattern. I may have to wipe the new one clean more often as I am a messy cook too. :-)

  10. Laraine Larkin says:

    What a genius idea! I love it!

  11. Great looking movable island! The contrast with your all white cabinetry and appliances is lovely. I like the industrial/commercial look with the country cabinets. You can easily move it to stand in for a bar or serving island when you have get togethers. Now I want one!

  12. Your new piece looks like it should always have been there. It really completes your kitchen. I have a small kitchen also, but must use the space where I would put an island for a table & chairs, since I have no other dining space in my home. I love the simplicity and clean lines of your “island” and what will be the ease of keeping it clean. Great find …..

  13. Kathy Wetzel-Barnett says:

    Nice addition! It looks just right for the size of your kitchen, and it really adds to the workspace.

  14. What a great solution. I agree that a kitchen island is essential if you like to bake and cook. It looks great and is so functional. Best, Kim

  15. Very nice solution for a tight space. I love the mat also. May I ask where you bought the blue floral/paisley kitchen towel? It’s such a nice shade of blue!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Hi Kim –

      I wish I could give you a resource for the jacquard tea towel, but I bought it a long time ago at a kitchen store in Pennsylvania. On the label it says – Now Designs. They do have a website:

      It is a French jacquard pattern of fruit and paisley. I have seen the pattern and color on napkins, dishtowels and tablecloths.I hope you can find it. If not on the site, then at higher end kitchen stores and boutiques like Willam Sonoma and Sur La Table.

  16. What a great idea !!! Love this…………………. and I love the hardwoods in your kitchen as well !! Gorgeous !!

  17. I’m hoping to build an island that houses my three trashcans! One for burnables, one for plastic and other recyclables and one for trash. They clutter up my kitchen, and a movable island will give me extra counter space as well as cleaning up the look of my kitchen! I’m excited to get started on the project!

    1. I wonder if you could start with a rolling cart like this one and build a frame around the bottom to make it look like a real island. Put doors on one side with trash cans on the shelf. The stainless “counter top” would be pretty handy.

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Arlene –

        Adding to the cart could be done for sure. With DIY – you can do anything. :-)

  18. Mary Ann Howat says:

    The rolling cart is perfect in a small space.. it looks great!

    1. Diane Henkler says:

      Thanks Mary Ann –

      I don’t mind having a small kitchen, but counter space was lacking. I am so happy to have more counter space now and an in-between surface for placing items as I prepare food. :-)

      1. Diane Henkler says:

        Hi Vikki –

        Thanks Vikki. You have a good eye…. I get new Zoe photos sent to me every day. Pretty soon the whole side of the refrigerator will be covered with them. :-) As I am sure you understand having watched your grandchild grow up so fast.

        I love the GelPro mats – they make standing in front of the sink… a joy as much as standing in front of a kitchen sink can be. :-) I am happy to see that the company saw the need to make them in other colors and and patterns other than solid black, tan and brown.

  19. Diane, your new island is the perfect addition to your kitchen. That added counter top space makes all the difference. I love GelPro mats so when I saw your blue and white checked mat I had to order two of the cherry checked in 20″ X 32″ to replace the “not so padded” mats I have in front of the stove and the fridge. I have a large GelPro in red in front of the sink area. My kitchen is in red and mustard. p.s. I spotted those pictures of baby Zoe on your fridge!!! My only grandchild turned 15 yesterday. The time goes by so fast.