Choosing the Right Kitchen Island

Plan the perfect kitchen island for your space and style with these ideas.


No matter the size or shape of your kitchen, more counter space is always helpful. A kitchen island provides extra prep space, storage, seating, and more. Plus, it instantly boosts your kitchen's style and efficiency. Learn how to give your kitchen a bit of extra workroom by choosing the right island for your space and lifestyle.

Kitchen Islands by Style

Built-in islands
If the kitchen is the hub of your household, choose an island that's worthy of the attention. Frequently customized to get the ideal size, design, and amenities, a built-in island is heavy-duty furniture for your kitchen. Use it to complement your room's decor, or turn it into a bold centerpiece. Built-in islands are also ideal for creating out-of-sight storage for small appliances, pots and pans, or extra dinnerware.

Small-space islands
When you're working with a small space, sometimes the built-in look can be overwhelming -- but kitchen islands don't have to be huge to be storage-savvy. An island with open storage below keeps the room from feeling cramped, while still providing a work area and space to stow items. Try mounting a towel bar on the side of a small island for towels and dish rags or hooks for keeping utensils on hand. An added bonus: It's easy to find what you're looking for when it's in the open.

Mobile cart islands
Carts are inexpensive, hardworking, and perfect for small kitchens. Whether it's a baking station, extra prep space, or storage for little-used items, mobile islands are there when you need them -- and out of the way when you don't. Consider a model with a mix of open and closed storage options for a look that's complete and accommodating of supplies.

Islands with seating
Islands aren't just about storage and prep space. They are often a gathering place. Whether it doubles as a dining area, a homework hot spot, or just a casual setting to chat over a cup of coffee, a kitchen island with room for seating accommodates diverse uses.

Repurposed islands
Maybe it was once a dining table, a dresser, or an actual butcher's block. Now, that well-aged furnishing is an opportunity to bring a vintage touch and patina to your kitchen. Restore and repurpose an old piece of furniture for a custom island that's tailored to your personal style.

Upgrading islands
If your existing island falls short on character, or it looks outdated but has good bones, a topical island treatment might be your most practical or cost-effective option -- and it will minimize the disruption of a standard kitchen remodel. Transform a tired-looking island with a new countertop, hardware, or custom panels; for example, wood panels offer a great variety of stains and distressed treatments that will turn an island into a commanding kitchen focal point. Existing storage can be maintained simply by configuring new doors and drawer fronts.

Planning Advice

The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends leaving at least 36 inches on all sides of an island to accommodate traffic. Keep in mind; you┬┐ll need to plan for more space if you want your island to include seating.

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