Maximize your kitchen island with these sneaky ways to carve out more storage and space.
An island contributes a lot to a kitchen: it anchors the space, serves as an extra work surface and eating area, and can be rife with storage. To maximize your island, consider what it needs to do for your kitchen. Look at what you would want to store in the island and if you need to make room for other functions, such as a sink or breakfast bar. If you want your island to be storage central and an eating zone, be sure to leave enough of a counter overhang so that stools can easily tuck beneath when not in use. The shelves on this island don't extend all the way to the edge of the countertop, leaving plenty of space for the stools.
This three-in-one island combines a prep station with a banquette and a glass-front display cabinet. The working side of the island forms a prep station opposite the sink. On the other side, the raised banquette takes full advantage of the woodsy view and provides ample seating. Meanwhile, the back of the bench houses a glass-door cabinet facing the dining room. A drawer under the bench furthers the island's storage capacity.
Create a lighter look in your kitchen with an open island. Drawers are ideal for storing utensils, while open shelves can be used to wrangle dishes, produce, or cooking supplies to contain kitchen clutter.
Organize your wine collection with island storage designed for bottles. An expanse of cubbies, sized right for wine bottles, tucks into half of this island for easy-to-access storage.
A cabinet that's positioned deeper into an island is out of the way but still close at hand, which is good for infrequently used dishes and kitchen gadgets.
Create seamless storage with door fronts that look like decorative panels. A push latch opens these panels to reveal a magnet board on one side and an icemaker on the other. The cabinets behind the magnet board left only a sliver of space on the end of the island, but it was just enough room to include the play station, which keeps kids occupied while Mom and Dad cook. The panel on the left conceals a deeper nook that houses an icemaker.
If you have a large island, limiting the depths of shelves and cabinets will make accessing items easier. For example, if your island is 3 feet wide, building the shelves so they are 12-15 inches deep will mean easier access to items like serving bowls and cake stands. Always consider what you want to store in your island when laying out a storage plan. Small appliances and large pots may require extended depths and greater shelf clearances.
Each side of this island is packed with storage, even beneath the eating counter. The side where the barstools are stationed houses roomy cabinets. While accessing this storage requires moving the stools, the spot is ideal for stashing infrequently used items such as roasting pans, large serving platters, and small appliances, leaving space in easier-to-access cabinets for everyday items.
An island can work in a smaller kitchen if it's scaled to suit the size of the room. Though it's only 2 feet wide (to allow plenty of clearance on all sides), this island offers a prep sink, a chef-friendly butcher-block top, and storage underneath and on the ends. Classic-look columns on the corners of the island emphasize its furniture-style design.
Onions, potatoes, and squash do best when stored in a cool, dry place. Give them what they need by storing them out of the way in a pullout wire basket beneath standard drawers.
If you like to use your kitchen island for mixing cookie dough and cake batter, keep cumbersome baking pans and cookie sheets where you need them -- in vertical storage space below the island top (and behind closed doors). If your kitchen island is in a fixed position (rather than on wheels), include electrical outlets behind tilt-down drawer fronts. They're perfect for plugging in a mixer.
Editor's Tip: If your kitchen island is big enough, install a handy roll-out recycling bin at one end.
Utilize pullout shelves and cabinets to increase visibility. Pullouts work well for storing smaller items, such as jars of spices or bottles of vinegars and oils, so they are less likely to get lost in the recesses of a cavernous cabinet.
Include electrical outlets within your island to provide functional storage for cell phone chargers and other gadgets -- behind closed doors and off the counters.