There's no need to embark on an expensive, disruptive kitchen remodeling project, just to add a kitchen island. Portable or mobile kitchen islands can be a quick update. Here are tips and ideas to add one of these flexible storage units and work spaces to your own kitchen.

Establish Your Storage Needs

A portable island can accomplish multiple goals. The first is typically extra storage space. Smaller islands may have open shelves—great for stashing mixing bowls, small appliances, or cookware. Portable/mobile kitchen islands may include drawers or doors to hide utensils or other items, too. Your island may also have hooks or bars on the sides for often-used utensils, towels, or other items, as well as vertical dividers to efficiently corral baking sheets and cutting boards. Midsize portable islands may even include amenities such as roll-out bins for pantry staples or recycling. Consider a model with a mix of open and closed storage options for a look that's complete and accommodating of supplies.

Figure Out Your Work Requirements

Portable/mobile kitchen islands can be used solely for storage, but they can also provide welcome dedicated work surface. The function you want the portable/mobile kitchen island to serve will help you decide what surface you need. For example, you may want to create a baking station or a prep island. Granite works great for heavy-duty chopping tasks, while marble is perfect for rolling out dough. You can also find an island that offers flexible work surface—a portion of the countertop that pops up, for example, for even more work square footage.

Evaluate the Space You Have and the Size the Island Will Be

The most important consideration for mobile/portable kitchen islands is space: The space you have for the island, or the space you can carve out. For example, a portable/mobile kitchen island may fit neatly at the end of an existing bank of cabinets, or under an open spot of existing kitchen cabinets. There may also be a spare corner for the moveable island, or another natural spot that allows you to move the island out of the way when not in use.

Decide on How the Island Will Move

Any portable island must move; the best way to do that is wheels. Make sure those on your island won't scratch your kitchen's floor, and that they'll lock in place to prevent rolling when you're working at the island or when it is stored.

Explore Design Options

A wide range of pieces can be adapted for extra work surface. For example, a restaurant-style option made of stainless steel can provide open shelving, and a durable work surface. Wheels can be added to stock cabinetry, and a slab of granite makes for a hefty work surface. If storage is the focus, a small, inexpensive rolling cabinet can supply lots of spots for necessary kitchen items. The smallest of these can even be stored in spaces such as a pantry.

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