Converting 2 Tier Kitchen Island To Single Level: DIY Guide

Upgrading a kitchen island from a 2-tier to single level can give your home a new lease of life. Not only will it make your kitchen space more ample, but it makes it easier to entertain your guests in an open-plan living area. You don’t even have to hire a contractor for the job. 

To convert a two tier kitchen island to a single level you have to remove the counters first. Cut down the breakfast bar area with a circular or reciprocating saw, then cover the hole with lumber and install a new counter. 

Kitchen Island: Two Level vs. One level

Opting for a single level or two-level kitchen island is a matter of preference, but there are a few things to take into account before deciding.

Space size

Kitchen islands are often used as space dividers in open-plan homes, making the transition between the living and cooking space. 

In this living arrangement, many people believe that a two-tier island can help them hide messes. However, while the tier can offer some privacy, it won’t make a cluttered or messy kitchen look neat and tidy. At the same time, the extra level can chop up the space and make a small open space look crammed.

A two-tier island can work in a large, airy space. However, if you have a small home, a single level island is best.

Countertop size

The same considerations above matter in the case of the countertop, too. Do you have a large kitchen with plenty of work space? Install whatever island you like best. Do you only have a small counter and would do anything to increase your working space? Opt for a single-level island.

Island position

Is the island positioned in the middle of the room, or is it rather a peninsula extending from a wall? In the first case, a tier would look awkward. In the latter, you might want to use a tier as a breakfast bar, but a single-level would still make your room look bigger.

Intended use 

Do you need a kitchen island to extend your kitchen’s work area, or would you rather use it as a breakfast bar too? A breakfast bar doesn’t have to be taller than the counter, but some people prefer a taller setup anyway. This is something to consider before converting or building the island.

Limitations To Consider Before Converting Multi Level Island To Single Level

No separate bar area

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to understand that a single-level island doesn’t have a separate bar area. Your work and bar sides will merge, so this is something to take into account. 

If you prefer a classic bar look (i.e. taller than the top), then a single-level island might not be right for you.

You may have to move the outlet

Most tiered islands have at least one electrical outlet on the tier. If you decide to convert, you’ll have to move this outlet elsewhere.

The old counter will not fit

Unless you want to glue the counter you had on the tier after converting, you will have to buy a new counter. This could be a problem if the new counter won’t match the counter above your kitchen cabinets.

Cost Estimations Of Modifying Two Tier Kitchen Island

Converting a two-tier island can cost you anywhere between $250 and $500, depending on any plumbing or electric work that is required. The type of counter you plan to install can also make or break the deal – MDF or laminate counters are inexpensive, but expect to drop some cash for marble or hardwood.

Convert 2 Tier Kitchen Island To Single Level in 5 Easy Steps

Converting a kitchen island isn’t hard, and you could do it yourself if you have a bit of DIY experience. Otherwise, you can hire a contractor.

Things You Will Need

  • Circular saw
  • Reciprocating saw
  • 2” x 4” lumber 
  • Wood screws
  • Electric drill driver
  • Hammer 
  • New countertop 
  • Silicone caulking or glue
  • Putty knife
  • Utility knife
  • Drywall (if needed)
  • Wall paint
  • Sandpaper 
  • Sander 
  • Level
  • Pencil 

Step 1 – Remove the old counter 

Converting from a two-tier to single level island requires you to change the countertop, and you’ll find it easier to work if you remove the old counter before doing anything else.

Most counters are fixed with glue or silicone caulk, so try to remove as much adhesive as possible with a utility knife. Then, tap the countertop with a hammer from underneath to dislodge it. Once it comes loose, lift it with a helper and remove it.

Step 2 – Cut the tier 

Mark a line in correspondence to the main countertop on the exterior of the tier, using a level to make sure it’s straight. Use this line as a guide and cut the tier with a circular or reciprocating saw. 

Pay attention to any electrical wires that may pass through the tier. If you have an outlet installed on the tier, make sure to remove it first or turn off the electricity and use a manual saw to complete the job.

Step 3 – Fill the gap with wood

Cutting the tier will usually leave you with an empty space that you’ll have to fill to create a solid base for the new counter. Cut a 2×4 wooden board to size and screw it to the island’s frame with wood screws. 

Step 4 – Sand the area

You can now smoothen the surface and level it with sandpaper. Start with coarse-grit sandpaper, then move to fine-grit until the surface is smooth.

Step 5 – Install the new countertop 

Once you’re done sanding, clean the dust and apply a layer of glue or silicone caulk. Place the new counter on the island and use a mallet to tap it. This will ensure proper adhesion. Let the caulk or glue dry for about 24 hours before using the island.

Related Questions

Converting a tiered kitchen island to a single-level one will give your kitchen a more modern, streamlined look. If you still have doubts, check out the questions and answers below.

Can a bar be counter height?

Yes. Breakfast bars can have a height of 36 or 42 inches. Standard countertops are set at 36 inches high, so the 42-inch height corresponds to a tiered island. 

Should a kitchen island be the same height as a counter?

Yes. Most kitchen islands have the same standard height as the kitchen cabinets, meaning the countertop also has the same height – 36 inches. 

Final Thoughts

If you want to turn your classic home into a modern one, converting the kitchen island to a single-level could be an excellent idea. However, if you’d like some privacy in an open-space kitchen, you may want to keep the tier.

What will it be? Are you convinced to make the switch? Tell us in a comment.

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