Kitchen Island Storage Ideas and Tips

Kitchen island storage cubbies
Maximize your kitchen island with these sneaky ways to carve out more storage and space.

Kitchen Island Design

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.

Genius Design

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.

Open Space

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.

Cubby Storage

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.

Above and Beyond

Take island storage to new heights and include storage above the counter. In this kitchen, wood columns extending from the countertop add architectural interest while creating storage for wineglasses.

Microwave Nook

Save counter space with a built-in microwave within your kitchen island. Keep in mind that the island will be need to be outfitted with the proper electrical components. Also consider how the microwave door will open; make sure the appliance is in a place where the door won't run into anything.

Concealed and Ready

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.

Secret Storage

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.

Drawer Storage

Think beyond cabinets for island storage. Deep, wide drawers work well for storing everything from dishes to pots and pans to linens. If you're going to be storing heavy items in the drawers, make sure the drawers and the hardware are designed to bear the weight.

Pullout Storage

Keep frequently used pots and pans on hand with easy-to-access pullout shelves. Stainless-steel shelving offers a modern look, as well as a sturdy material for bearing the weight of heavy cast-iron cookware.

Concealing Columns

Column-style corners on this kitchen island are more than just decorative. Opening the recessed panel with a push latch reveals hidden cookbook storage.

Store Smart

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.

Island Storage All Around

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.

Hidden Assets

This 10x6-foot island anchors the kitchen, providing a sink and space for food prep and serving. A microwave, warming drawer, built-in trash receptacles, and cookware storage reside below. Shelving on one end provides convenient space to display and store dishes.

Store and Display

Use your kitchen island for the best of both storage and display. Mix open storage for pretty items with closed storage, such as drawers, for more utilitarian items.

Vegetable Storage

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.

Vertical Storage

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.

Front and Center

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.

Roll-Out Carts for Additional Work Space

Extend your work space and storage by tucking roll-out carts beneath the kitchen island. They're out of sight yet easily accessible. Choose a laminate top for the carts to provide a work surface and extra-deep drawers to accommodate dry goods, cookware, and other kitchen essentials.

Storage for Electronics

Include electrical outlets within your island to provide functional storage for cell phone chargers and other gadgets -- behind closed doors and off the counters.

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