“My dream kitchen would have a massive island with some beautiful slab of stone, a huge fridge, possibly even a walk-in – I just want it to be a plethora of fruits and veggies. I would have a nice bar area, too.” – Antoni Porowski
Adding an island to your kitchen can create more storage space, additional work areas, and define your kitchen. You can even use the outside of your island as a casual eating spot. If you’re remodeling your kitchen, this is the perfect time to design it to accommodate an island.
Even if you aren’t doing any major remodeling, you can add a mobile island. This is perfect for those small kitchens that lack enough square footage for a traditional island. Check out these small kitchen island ideas and see examples of how you can make an island work in any sized kitchen.
1. Butcher Block
Butcher block is beautiful but it can also be expensive. What’s nice about using butcher block on your kitchen island is that you can enjoy the durability and beauty of this wood without having to spend a fortune covering a large space. If you want to continue the look throughout your kitchen, you can also put it on your cabinets for a wooden countertop.
If you don’t currently have an island in your kitchen, Then you can still get this look. Look for a kitchen cart with a butcher block top that you can place in the middle of your kitchen’s open space to act as a movable kitchen island.
Modern kitchen islands incorporate innovative ideas for increased style and functionality. This is your chance to add a unique lighting effect. You could add LED strip lights to the underside of the cabinets along the floor. Or you could place them under the overhang of the countertop.
Have a hidden pull-out counter piece that glides out from under the island countertop to create extra counter space while you’re working. Then you can clean it and slide it away when not needed. Hide USB plugs in a drawer or cabinet as a mini charging station.
Creating a curved kitchen island gives your kitchen area an organic feeling while also looking upscale. This style of island typically costs more since you’ll have to create a custom kitchen island. Each home is different, so you’ll need a curve that fits your home and enhances the look of your island.
Consider only having a curve on one side. This combines clean straight lines and sharp corners with the delicate and gentle curve on the other side. The curve can look beautiful on the outside and create more space for lining up chairs as a breakfast counter.
If you have a farmhouse kitchen, then look for a kitchen island that resembles more of a table than a solid structure. It should have open space underneath that you can use as shelving or place baskets on.
If it has carving decorating the legs and edge of the countertop, this is a bonus. You may be able to find a vintage wooden table to serve as your island. This would then come with the added benefit of being a mobile kitchen island.
A granite countertop is perfect for your kitchen counters and island. It’s durable, comes in countless colors, and adds a touch of elegance to your kitchen. You could choose a white or light grey shade for an all-white kitchen. Or there are brown and tan shades that pair well with wood cabinets.
If you aren’t ready to commit to all granite counters, you could have a granite breakfast bar on the outside of your island. This creates a beautiful accent while keeping your costs down.
If you have an open floor plan, an L shaped island is perfect for defining the kitchen space. The two legs of the island create an outer boundary and visually separate the area from the rest of the home.
An L shape is also perfect for creating a multi-use space. You can use one leg as a food prep space. Then the other portion can be a breakfast bar or food staging area. There’s also plenty of storage space underneath for cooking appliances and serving dishes.
Create a feeling of luxury in your kitchen with upgrades to your kitchen island. Doing this in your kitchen can give the feeling of elegance throughout the entire kitchen without having to remodel everything. Start with white cabinets for a bright and clean backdrop. If you have the floor space, create a large kitchen island that you can use for multiple purposes.
Have one area be the food prep area. In another area, have a bar top to serve as your breakfast counter. You can also upgrade the feeling of your kitchen by using a more expensive material for your countertop. Consider using granite or marble that you pair with statement pendant lights that draw your attention to the beauty of the stone.
Modern small kitchen design incorporates everyday kitchen appliances into the island. This transforms it into an integral part of your kitchen. Consider moving your cooktop to the island. This allows you to interact with others on the other side of the island while cooking instead of having your back to them.
Don’t stop with the stovetop. You can also add a wine or drinks fridge, warming bins, dishwasher, and trash compactor. These are all nice to have extra features that don’t typically fit into a kitchen. However, with an island, you have more space making it possible to add these features.
If you have a narrow kitchen, placing a kitchen island in the center may confine the space too much. You could place a tall bar top height island that’s skinny to divide your kitchen down the center. An island that’s on wheels will make it easier to shift it more towards one side or the other, depending on what side of the kitchen you’re working on.
It’s best to scale the island down to be proportional to the small space. Make the island fit the space by following the already established shapes.
Quartz is a smart choice for your kitchen counters because it’s harder than granite. This makes it durable enough for the kitchen. It’s also not porous, making it sanitary. It won’t harbor bacteria and germs in the pores.
However, you’ll want to be careful about setting hot pots and pans on it. The stone is susceptible to heat. The cost of granite makes it one of the more expensive options for your island countertop. However it’s well worth the investment for its beauty and durability.
11. Reclaimed Wood
Using reclaimed wood in your kitchen area will give it a sense of authenticity. It blends perfectly in a farmhouse or rustic-inspired kitchen. While you could use it for the countertop, this may not be the best use of the wood. Reclaimed wood, by nature, is uneven, rough, and full of imperfections. This makes it difficult to use as a work surface.
A better option is to use it for the sides and front of the island. You can embrace the uniqueness of the planks and the variation of color. You could use the same batch of reclaimed wood to build a dining table for a cohesive look.
You can add rustic touches to your kitchen island without having to commit to a completely rustic island.
Sure, you could have a portable kitchen island that’s made from salvaged wood. This would look rustic and simple in its design. However, this lacks functionality. Instead, use the rustic wood pieces to create a decorative front. Or you could use one large piece of reclaimed wood for the breakfast bar. A natural piece of wood with a raw bark edge can also look beautiful.
Add seating to the outside of your kitchen island bar. Even if you have a small island in a tiny kitchen, you should be able to add at least two bar stools. If you have a countertop island, then you’ll want shorter stools.
Consider adding multiple levels to your island. You could have a raised portion on the outer side to place bar height stools at. Or the center of the island could be raised with counter height surfaces around the outside for bench seating or dining chairs.
If you’re doing a kitchen remodel, then consider adding a sink to your island. This creates a cooking space on the island, allowing more than one person to do food prep or other cooking tasks simultaneously.
However, adding a sink requires adding plumbing lines. This can be expensive if you aren’t already considering a kitchen renovation. If you don’t have an easy way of adding plumbing, then this isn’t a good option for you.
If you have a large kitchen, you can have a larger island with plenty of counter space. Consider creating a waterfall island. This is a modern trend that uses polished natural stone for the countertop and sides. You can also create an asymmetrical look by only having one side of the island use the stone, so it looks like the countertop is “waterfalling” down the side of the island.
For this look to work, the countertop should be a thick slab of stone. Continue this thickness on the side slab. The island should either be completely open underneath or have a significant overhang beyond the cabinets underneath.
Do you love the all-white look? Then you’ll want a white kitchen island to match your white kitchen cabinets. Look for a kitchen island design that embraces the minimal look. It could mimic the open shelving you have on your wall with clean lines and minimal ornamentation.
Don’t use plain white materials for your kitchen island. Add depth and texture to the space by using a whitewashed wood. Or choose a white stone that has light graining throughout.
Using wood in your kitchen space gives it a sense of warmth. You can use wood for your island countertop to contrast with lighter countertops in the rest of the kitchen. If you aren’t ready to build a permanent kitchen island, you could buy a movable island. These are taller tabletops on wheels with cabinet doors, open shelving, or drawers underneath.
Smaller kitchens with limited floor space benefit from a movable island. You can roll them up against a wall when you’re not cooking. This leaves your kitchen open for moving about. Then when you’re cooking, you can move it into place in the middle of your kitchen for extra counter space.