Kitchen Islands

Kitchen Islands
Pfeiffer Design/Neolith/Sheraton Interiors/Blakes London

The kitchen island is a dream for everyone who does a lot of cooking. It’s the focal point of the modern kitchen and as such, it’s been featured a lot in design magazines and blogs focusing on interior design as an invaluable piece in a kitchen.

The kitchen island is more than just a decorative piece in the kitchen as it plays a key role in a kitchen’s functionality. It can be a place for preparing, washing, and cooking food, as well as a place for eating, baking, and even working. All in all, it’s a part of the kitchen that provides additional counter and storage space.

Today, kitchen islands come in many different shapes and sizes that fit a wide variety of kitchen designs. If you’d like to learn more about their size, style, and functionality, and how to integrate a kitchen island in your own kitchen, keep on reading.

What Is a Kitchen Island?

Kitchen islands are freestanding cabinets located in the middle of the kitchen that provide you with more counter space and storage. You can use them in different ways depending on whether you need extra space to cook, a place where everyone can gather around and eat, an additional place for prepping food, etc. The best part about kitchen islands is that they can be personalized and sized for your specific needs. With that said, let’s go over some essentials that’ll help you design your own kitchen island.

Kitchen Island Components Options

Let’s take a look at all the different uses of kitchen islands so you can figure out the right layout for your own kitchen.


Kitchen islands are an ideal solution if you require additional storage in your kitchen. You can choose a kitchen island with open shelves, drawers, and/or regular cabinets.

Prepping Food

Large kitchen islands are ideal as an additional workspace for prepping food, and are especially useful if more people use the kitchen at the same time.

Washing Food

If you’ve decided to integrate a sink into your kitchen island, this is the perfect spot for washing your produce. And if you have additional countertop space, you can both wash and prep the food you’re cooking all in one place.


To use your kitchen island as a cooking space, you need to install a cooktop on top of the island. Additionally, think about adding a ventilation hood on top that will suck all the cooking smells.


Kitchen islands can also serve as an additional dining space if you can include comfortable high bar stools around them. When using the kitchen island as both a cooking and eating spot, you can incorporate a raised eating counter to prevent yourself from scalding steam or splashes if cooking and eating occur simultaneously.


If you work from home and want to change your working environment, the kitchen island is the perfect place for it.

Installing a Dishwasher

If having a sink is part of your kitchen island design, installing a dishwasher is a great idea because they can share the same drain. You can install a conventional dishwasher or even a slide-out dishwasher.

Installing a Refrigerator or Wine Cooler

Other appliances you can install in your kitchen island are an under-counter fridge or a wine cooler. It’s best to go with appliances that vent out the front so they take up less space in the kitchen island.

Baking Center

You can turn your kitchen island into a baking haven by dropping the central part of the kitchen island about 15 cm, making it ideal for kneading pastry or making pizza dough. This dual-height island will give you more versatility, so you can knead the dough on one side and have company sitting on the other side of the kitchen island.

Pet Station

For those of you who have furry friends that enjoy having their meals in the kitchen, integrating a pet station on one side of your kitchen island is another great option.

Open Shelves

Maybe you want to add some visual interest to your kitchen and use the kitchen island as a decorative piece. In that case, opt for a kitchen island with open shelving, so you can display decor pieces and your favorite cookbooks.

Kitchen Island Types

The design of your kitchen island will vary depending on how much space you have in your kitchen and which features you want to integrate.


The galley kitchen island design is one of the classic ones. There’s usually a seating area on one side, and it’s great for open-concept kitchens.


For those of you who have spacious kitchens, the U-shaped kitchen island is ideal. This type of kitchen island has cabinets along three sides and it gives you plenty of space for prepping, cooking, storing, and seating.


If you’re intrigued by the U-shape kitchen island but would like something different, the L-shaped island also works for big kitchens. One side can be used for seating, and the other for cooking and storing.


Double-tiered kitchens will suit your family best if you get a lot of use out of the kitchen other than just cooking and eating. The higher level is used as a seating area that you can also use to work, do crafts, and so on, while the lower is great for food prepping and cooking.


If you want to break out of the traditional concept of kitchen islands, you can go with circular islands. Depending on how big your kitchen is, you can choose between a half-circle or full-circle design. Both options give you plenty of storage space, so the deciding factor will be the amount of space you have in the middle of your kitchen.


For smaller kitchens that don’t have room for large kitchen islands, you could go for a kitchen island on wheels or a rolling cart. Both are convenient options if you need extra storage space or a place to prep food.


Another way you could incorporate a kitchen island in your home is to do a T configuration with a standard seating table. Apart from giving you extra counter space and storage, this type of kitchen island gives you the opportunity to integrate a dining room in your kitchen.

Kitchen Island Benefits

Kitchen islands are very practical and add a different ambiance to your kitchen, which is why they’re so popular. The benefits of having a kitchen island include:

  • Having additional storage in your kitchen for specialty tools, small appliances, and cooking utensils
  • Having more prep space
  • Having a well-equipped cook’s kitchen
  • Creating a space that will be the heart of the kitchen where everyone gathers
  • Having a separation between the kitchen and other rooms in an open-concept home
  • Having an extra sitting area

Kitchen Island Drawbacks

Kitchen islands aren’t suitable for every home and can easily overwhelm a room if you add them to a small kitchen. Common drawbacks of kitchen islands include:

  • Overcrowding a small kitchen
  • Disrupting the normal functioning of the kitchen
  • Having to install additional wiring and ventilation if you have appliances located in the kitchen island
  • Increased budget for a kitchen renovation

If you need additional information on budgeting, check out our article centered around planning a kitchen renovation budget.

Kitchen Island Materials and Countertops

Choosing materials for your kitchen island is where you can express your creativity and personal style. Generally, kitchen island countertops can be made from a variety of different materials.


Marble countertops are one of the most unique countertops that have a luxurious look. This material is both waterproof and heatproof, and it also increases the value of your home. On the other hand, marble is a very delicate material that’s porous, stains and scratches easily, and it’s expensive, so it’s not ideal if you like low-maintenance materials.


Quartz is an engineered stone that’s an alternative to marble and granite. On top of having a non-porous surface, it’s scratch and stain-resistant, available in a lot of colors, and you can install it yourself. The downsides of this material include the high price and the heavy weight of the countertops.


Granite is an extremely durable countertop material that’s almost impervious to heat. You can choose between a lot of different patterns and colors, and it doesn’t need a lot of maintenance if it’s properly sealed. However, granite is also one of the most expensive materials for countertops, and it’s not a good idea if you want to install it yourself because it can crack.


If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly alternative to granite, Soapstone is an excellent choice. It’s a natural stone that has a deep color, giving your kitchen an antique look. It’s a material that’s impervious to heat and stain-resistant, and if you damage it, it can be sanded out. The downside to using soapstone is that you can’t install it yourself, it must be treated with mineral oils to preserve it, and it can darken over time.

Wood or Butcher Block

One of the most popular materials for kitchen islands is wood or butcher block, which comes in a wide range of colors and finishes, such as maple, oak, Brazilian cherry, hickory, etc. These countertops can be sanded and resealed, which makes them long-lasting, and they’re also pretty easy to clean. However, if you don’t take good care of them, wood can easily crack and get damaged from water or scratched by knives. On top of that, wood is a very expensive material, especially if you consider the upkeep.

Stainless Steel

If you have an industrial-looking kitchen, a stainless steel kitchen island sounds like the perfect addition. These countertops are heat-resistant and are one of the easiest countertops to clean and maintain. While the upside is that they increase your real estate value, the downside is that they’re pricy, noisy, and can be easily scratched, so you should always use a cutting board.


Last but not least, we have concrete countertops that are perfect if you have countertops in unique shapes. These heavy-weight countertops are scratch and heat-resistant, and they can also be color-tinted to make your kitchen truly special. On the other hand, concrete is a material that may potentially crack over time due to being extremely porous, and you won’t be able to install it yourself.

For more information on common materials used in the kitchen, check out our article on kitchen counters.

Final Thoughts

Kitchen islands can be a costly addition to your kitchen with an average cost of about $4,000 or more if you use more expensive materials, but it’s what will make your kitchen truly unique and increase its functionality.

Before you start planning the design of your kitchen island, take the following measurements into consideration:

  • Leave at least 110 cm of space between the kitchen island and other kitchen cabinets.
  • Standard kitchen islands don’t measure less than 100cm x 100cm, but if you prefer longer and more narrow kitchen islands, go with a kitchen island that’s no less than 60cm wide.
  • For large kitchens, install a kitchen island that’s at least 2.5m long to ensure maximum comfort.
  • The best height for kitchen islands is 90cm when used to cook, and 110cm when used to eat meals or have a drink.

Have fun designing your new kitchen island!