Your kitchen island has all sorts of uses, including tying your kitchen together nicely as well. Even if you have a small kitchen area, you can still do some great things with an island. We’ve put together some tips that will help you maximize your space and get the most from your kitchen island.
All kitchen islands, no matter how small, should have a few traits in common. Here are a few factors to consider when you are ready to install an island in your kitchen:
Does it give you more counter space?
Can you use it as a kitchen table to eat at?
Does it contain extra storage space- shelves, drawers, hooks, etc.?
Is it the right size for your kitchen where it won’t interrupt the flow of traffic and work?
If your island is going to be a practical area to eat at, then it needs to have open shelves and an overhanging countertop. It’s even better if it has a stool that you can tuck in.
Maybe you found an island you like that doesn’t include an overhang. That’s okay, as you can always replace the countertop with a new one. Just be sure to give yourself about six inches of overhang and ensure the new top is sturdy enough to stand up to regular kitchen work.
One of the main aspects of your island you have to consider is its size. Think about how large the island is and how much space it will take up in the kitchen. Give yourself about 36 inches for regular aisle space, but increase that to about 42 inches if there is an appliance door facing it.
The best place to put your island is usually in the center of the kitchen. You can also use it to box in a kitchen area that is part of an open floor plan. For open floor plan kitchens, an L-shaped island is often ideal.
If you give yourself about 36 inches of space for every aisle around the island, then you are leaving enough room for two people to comfortably pass. For those spots that aren’t very high traffic, you can probably get away with a few inches less. You should test out your floor plan and measure for the island’s space before you purchase or install any island for your kitchen.
You might discover that your kitchen isn’t big enough for a traditional island. If that’s the case, then you can go with an island that can be folded up or rolled under a countertop.
Your island does not have to be custom made. There are tons of choices out there, and you just need to find the right one from your particular space.
Restaurant-Style Kitchen Island
If you go to a store that sells restaurant supplies, you should be able to pick up an industrial-grade work table. It will be light but strong and usually made of stainless steel. They will also be relatively inexpensive and they come in a range of sizes.
If you want to get the most use out of it, then you should look for one that has open shelving and a towel bar where you can place hooks. You probably want one with locking wheels if you are going to be moving it around regularly, but many of these types of tables are light enough that you can move them easily without the use of wheels.
Butcher’s Block Island
You can also use a butcher block as a kitchen island. The countertop is already made for kitchen use, and it’s no problem to slide a few stools up to it to use it as a kitchen table.
Furniture Island Repurposed
You can take a piece of furniture and repurpose it as an island without much expense to yourself. There are lots of pieces that will work. Here are some of our favorites:
Sofa table – the great thing about repurposing sofa tables is that they are already the right height. You can get them in all sorts of sizes to fit your kitchen perfectly.
Cabinet – You can also use an old cabinet for your island. The best ones are those that have lots of shelves or drawers.
Dining Table – You can take a bar height dining table and make it into an island as well. It already has a counter that is perfect for food preparation, and you can add in hooks on the side of it to increase storage space.
Drop Leaf Island
A drop leaf gives you extra counter space in your kitchen, and you can prop it up whenever you need the extra space. There may be times where it isn’t possible to install a kitchen island because of a lack of space. A drop leaf can be installed on the end of your cabinets or walls and serve the same function for your kitchen.
A butcher block ledge can work as an impromptu island as well. The ledge can be made to fold away when you need that extra kitchen space.
You probably have some spots around your kitchen or in adjoining rooms that can store a small kitchen island. Find that storage space and design or purchase an island to fit the specifications. If you are designing your kitchen from scratch, then you can always install an extra piece on one of the cabinets that rolls out to become an island.
For a mobile island, you probably want to add on quality wheels. It’s a simple and inexpensive upgrade to make, and you will find that polyurethane wheels work best. You definitely want wheels that can lock so the island won’t move around when you are using it.