China Cabinet Hack - Kitchen Island and Pantry

A China Cabinet Hack - how to turn a dining room hutch into a kitchen island and pantry unit. A budget-friendly solution for when your tiny kitchen needs more storage and somewhere to sit but a new kitchen isn't in the budget. 

Repurposed China Cabinet Into Kitchen Island and Pantry

Repurposed China Cabinet Into Kitchen Island And Pantry

When we gave our honey oak kitchen cabinets a makeover, Tips For Painting Kitchen Cabinets White, we contemplated adding a bank of cabinets to one wall. While that would definitely help our problem with lack of storage, it would leave nowhere to sit in the kitchen to enjoy our morning coffee. 

If money were no object, we would blow out the wall between our kitchen and living room and build a large island with seating and storage potential. But being a load-bearing wall, the cost to do this would be over our budget. 

Repurposed China Cabinet Kitchen Island Plus Pantry

This is where our china cabinet hutch came into the picture. It has sentimental value because the entire dining set was a Christmas gift when our son was a baby. It's grown with our family and holds many memories. 

Not wanting to part with it but no longer have a need for the hutch it dawned on me one day that if we split the two pieces apart, maybe we could use it in the kitchen.

Repurposed China Cabinet Island Pantry Before

Once I saw the two pieces apart I immediately had a visual of the base becoming a small island with two chairs. The top reminded me of kitchen cabinets with peek-a-boo windows at the top and the idea for a custom pantry unit was born.  

This post contains affiliate links so you can see what products I used or recommend for this project. As an Amazon Associate, I earn a small commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. 

Dining Hutch Top Hack - Kitchen Pantry Unit

In order to turn the top of the dining hutch into a kitchen pantry unit, we needed to build a base cabinet for it to sit on. We built three storage cubbies that aligned with the three glass doors on the hutch with melamine.  

Repurposed China Cabinet Pantry

The trim detail along the bottom of the hutch was cut to retrofit the new pantry carcass and secured with wood screws. We ordered three tall custom oak doors to match the profile of the china cabinet doors.

The exterior sides of the melamine pantry were faced with an oak veneer, We replaced the original dining hutch crown molding with one with a much larger profile. All the oak was stained a dark walnut to match the lower cabinets in the kitchen.

China Cabinet Hack - Kitchen Pantry Interior

You can get a good idea of how we built the lower half of the pantry by seeing inside. The original oak back on the upper part of the hutch was kept to dress it up behind the glass doors. 

The lower half of the pantry does not have a back. Essentially we built a melamine rectangular box with two sides, a top and bottom, two dividers, and a kick plate underneath.

Repurposed China Cabinet Pantry Interior

We added metal brackets to each storage compartment for handy adjustable shelving (pictured below).

Repurposed China Cabinet Pantry Adjustable Shelves

Now here's what we did with the bottom half of the old china cabinet. 

Dining Hutch Bottom Hack - Small Kitchen Island

Turning the bottom of the dining hutch into a small kitchen island was much easier. All we did was add feet to the base to raise it. Instead of raising it to counter height, we raised it to table height. Why? Because I plan to use it for a baking work surface as well. Being vertically challenged it will be more comfortable at table height for rolling dough and such.

Repurposed China Cabinet Kitchen Island

We found a small 6 bottle wine fridge that fits perfectly without losing much-needed drawer storage. We cut an opening on the side of the island to accommodate the fridge rather than removing a door from the front. Not 100% convinced we made the right decision but it's too late now.

Repurposed China Cabinet Kitchen Island Bar Fridge

Wood brackets were mounted to the back of the cabinet to support the new countertop. On a cold -20C (-4F) winter day we found the perfect off cut granite slab that matched our kitchen counters tucked in the back of a local shop's yard. We went with a simple square profile edge to match the kitchen counters.

We found two bronze lattice back swivel chairs with leather seats that fit perfectly.

Repurposed China Cabinet Kitchen Island Chairs

The electrical box for the light fixture was relocated above the island for plugging in small kitchen appliances. I found the perfect 5 pendant light fixture with frosted glass that provides great task lighting for reading the paper and food prep.

Repurposed China Cabinet Kitchen Island Pendant

We could not be happier about a) being able to keep our sentimental dining hutch and b) getting much-needed kitchen storage and a place to sit to enjoy our morning coffee in our tiny little kitchen. All thanks to the gifted china cabinet that keeps on giving!

It has become the heart of our kitchen and we just love it!

If you have any questions about this dining hutch hack, please leave them in the comment section below or the Contact Me tab at the top. I love hearing from you!

If you enjoyed this DIY Kitchen Island and Custom Kitchen Pantry Unit idea, I'd be so thankful if you shared it with a friend and pinned it to your Small Kitchen Ideas or Furniture Hack Ideas board on Pinterest.

Repurposed China Cabinet Into Kitchen Island and Pantry

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  1. You are very clever and creative, Marie. I love the pantry unit in particular.

  2. Thanks Susan! Just wait until you see the project we're working on now - should be ready to post in a couple of weeks.

  3. What a clever idea, I would never have thought to do this. I love it!!!!

    1. Thank you so much! I'm so pleased to have the extra pantry storage and have a spot in our small kitchen now to read the paper and enjoy our morning coffee.

    2. This is Terri Hughes, I am the one that said this was a clever idea. I don't know why it didn't show my name. Very nice job!

  4. Hey Terri, so nice to see that it was you who left the sweet comment earlier! xo

  5. Marie, genius idea!! It truly just takes a few minutes of imagination (or maybe a day or two in my case!) to repurpose a piece you love. That turned out to be not only BEAUTIFUL, but so handy and you were able to keep the hutch with so many memories!! My boyfriend (we are in our early 70's so too funny saying boyfriend!!lol!!) is not much of a repurpos-er, but I always have been and most times he thinks I'm nuts, but in the end, he says "great idea"...most of the time!!?! ANYWAY, loved the finished pantry and island!!

    1. Thanks Karolyn, I'm glad you like how we repurposed our hold hutch. It's one of the best ideas we've had for our home as far as function. I seem to recall Mr. Frugalista thought it was a silly idea at first too. But as most often happens, like your boyfriend, he realized how great it would be for our small kitchen.

  6. Marie, now that you have painted the cabinets are you planning to paint the pantry/island also?

  7. That is such a clever reuse of the hutch Marie!! It really works well next to the china cabinet. And you know we can always use more storage.

    1. It is one of the best budget home improvements we made to this old house. I love having the extra storage FINALLY, it only took us almost 20 years! Having a little island is also great for so many reasons too. I'm glad you like the innovative repurpose of our old china cabinet, Mary.

  8. this is amazing, I had to share on my group too!

    1. Thank you so much, I'm glad you like it. I so appreciate the share to your group too! xo Hope you're having a lovely Sunday.

  9. Well aren't you a clever bunny it look awesome.

    1. Thanks Anita, it is one of the best DIY projects we've done in this house and works perfect for our small kitchen. Psssst, as we speak, the island is undergoing another makeover. After living with it for a couple years we're modifying it to be even better.


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