Installing an island in your kitchen will add a world of potential to one of the most-used rooms in your home.
You can increase the area for food preparation. You can add stools and make it a place to gather. You can add storage space. You can even include a stove, a sink or both.
The possibilities are endless.
So let’s look at some excellent kitchen island ideas, including lighting and possible materials.
Your Kitchen Space
The first consideration before installing an island is to consider the space in your kitchen. Islands do require room. They can be placed in the center of the kitchen, or they can be installed as a peninsula, attached to another counter.
Islands should be a minimum of four feet long and at least two feet deep – wider is better. There has to be room for people to move around it and work in the space between the island and the rest of the cabinets, which should be at least 36 inches. So before installing, be sure there’s adequate space.
Then consider how you will use the island, and what features are most important. Do you need cabinet space? Do you want seating? Will you use it for food prep? Will you want it to be portable?
It’s important to know how you will use the island as that helps inform your design. Islands can be as simple as an additional prep space, but they can also include a stovetop, a sink, extra plug-ins, and a seating area, to name a few options. Each of those choices impacts the plan. For instance, you can’t have a sink and a portable island.
Even in a small space, an island is a possibility. It can serve as a visual centerpiece for the home, or a natural divider between the kitchen and the family room or living room. And of course it adds functionality to the kitchen.
If you’ve got a small kitchen, here are some island ideas:
- A rolling wooden cart, which can be moved around the kitchen as needed. They often include drawers for storing small items, and have a shelf below and hooks for more storage.
- A narrow, high table that can be moved into other rooms if you’re entertaining.
- A narrow, stainless steel chef’s table, which can be purchased at a kitchen supply store.
- A piece of furniture repurposed into an island. Think of a stylish dresser with a butcher block added to the top.
Carts and rolling islands aren’t just ideal in small kitchens. Think about how you will use your island, as a portable island may be perfect for you. If you want the flexibility of moving the island to different areas of the kitchen, or to other rooms of the house, the ideas for small kitchens can be very functional in larger kitchens, too.
The surface of your island is another important consideration, whether it will be a rolling cart or a permanent fixture. You can choose the same surface as the rest of your countertops, or create a visual highlight in the room with a unique surface on the island.
Butcher block is becoming increasingly popular for its “farmhouse” look, but also because food prep such as chopping can be done directly on the surface of the island. Butcher block is also relatively easy to install, seal and repair.
Granite is another popular choice, and comes in a variety of colors and designs. Granite is desirable for its beautiful look, but also because it resists, heat, scratches and food stains.
Marble is similar to granite, with many design options, and its heat resistance. Other possible choices for an island surface are quartz, laminate, and stainless steel.
Whatever the design of your island, lighting is an important touch. When choosing lighting, it’s important to remember that your island will have different functions, from the kids doing homework to food prep to serving as a breakfast nook or a gathering place. So the lighting needs to serve different functions too.
Pendant lights are a popular choice, and they come in a wide variety of styles. The number of pendants that you hang will depend on the size of the island.
Recessed lights are another good option, particularly for lower ceilings where pendants aren’t an option. They can be installed as sections of the kitchen, so that you can light up different areas or turn them all on.
Finally, a chandelier will really draw attention to the island as the focal piece of your kitchen.
You can also consider dimmers for all your lights, allow you to adjust the ambiance.
Seating should not be an afterthought for your island. It’s possible that this could become the main dining area, so seating needs to be planned.
The seating area should not interfere with the functionality of the kitchen. For instance, don’t have the stools where they will block the fridge, or where the kids will be in the way during meal prep. A raised section of the island, for instance, provides a separate area for seating, away from the cooking and prepping.
In a small kitchen, it’s nice to have an area to tuck away the stools.
And then there are the stools. There are, once again, so many choices in design, colors and materials.
Important considerations are the height of the stool, as they should fit well with the island; whether you want a back or not; whether they are easy to get on and off; and whether they are comfortable enough to sit for a while.
Outdoor Kitchen Islands
Similar to an indoor island, if you spend a lot of time cooking outdoors, a kitchen island will expand the possibilities for prep space, storage and more.
An outdoor kitchen island can be as simple as a rolling cart, long narrow table, or a butcher block. That’s desirable if you want the flexibility of moving it around.
An outdoor island can also include burners for cooking, a sink, a built-in fridge, and storage capacity.
The decision once again is how you will use the island and what works best in your yard.
An island can add architectural beauty to your kitchen or outdoor space, but it also adds functionality to that space.
From meal prep to storage to seating, an island is an ideal way to increase your enjoyment in your home’s most-used room.