Kitchen Island Carts

Discover the space-saving qualities of a kitchen island cart.
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The two zinc-top islands add about 11 square feet of counter space. The metal frames match the open shelves, and the zinc tops will develop a pretty patina over time. Casters allow them to scoot around for flexibility and easy floor cleaning.

Kitchen island carts are a great alternative for space-strapped kitchens. Towel and spice racks, accessory hooks, butcher-block tops and drop-leaf panels are examples of some of the conveniences many models offer.

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A Kitchen Organizational Nightmare

Kenna MacKinnon buys everything in bulk. With four kids younger than 12, it's the only way she knows she'll have what she needs when she needs it. So when the MacKinnons moved to a house in Oak Park, Ill., that came with a sad excuse for a kitchen — a cramped layout, limited storage — a makeover was a must. It didn't require a gut job, just some smart reconfiguring by designer Rebekah Zaveloff (KitchenLab, kitchenlab-chicago.com).

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"Welcome to Central Command"

The back wall once housed a chimney and staircase, which came out to make way for a built-in pantry, side-by-side fridge and freezer, additional counter space and more cabinets. The island is set up so Kenna can see the kids in the backyard or the den as she preps. The dishwasher, housed in the island, backs up to the cabinets where plates and bowls are kept for easy unloading.

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"Now There's Room for Kids!"

The original kitchen layout left little space for cooking, let alone playing (and, as Kenna knows, kids always want to be where the action is). So seats at the island and floor space for toys were at the top of her list.

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"I Saved Money by Mixing Styles"

During the reno, Rebekah encouraged the MacKinnons to keep what they could. That included the cherry cabinets, subway tile, range and hood. They added off-white cabinets on the facing wall, and they painted the island a stone-gray color (Arctic Shadows by Benjamin Moore). The speckly white granite countertops tie all of the cabinet looks together. For the new backsplash across the room, Rebekah chose white glazed mosaic tiles. It goes with the old look but isn't matchy-matchy.

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"My Very Own Coffee Bar!"

Open shelves over the single-shot coffeemaker hold canisters with all the fixins. Mugs hang from S hooks, and a microwave drawer lives below the countertop for quick reheats of morning joe.

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"My Smart Move: Easy-to-Reach Supplies"

Yes, she has plenty of storage, but grabbing everyday pots and pans from a hanging rack is easier than digging through dark cabinets. The rolling console below it holds more daily-use items. "I can also set it up as a bar for parties," says Kenna. "It's nice to have things that can be adapted as we need them."

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

"My Superstar: An Organized Pantry"

The floor-to-ceiling, 40-inch-wide pantry outfitted with shelves and drawers is large enough to store all those bulk-purchased goods. Bonus: The pantry is right next to the island, where the kids sit for afternoon snacks, so it helps them help themselves. The refrigerator-style hinges all around the kitchen are a special touch. Kenna added a latch detail to the outside of the pantry because it reminded her of an icebox she had growing up.

Photo By: Nathan Kirkman

Completely portable—casters allow you to move the cart from room to room, or inside and out—a kitchen cart can also double as a bar cart or a buffet, helping to transport food items, serving platters or barware to make your source of entertainment fully mobile.

Kitchen island carts are also a budget-friendly option, providing for extra countertop and storage space—without the need to embark on a major kitchen renovation.

But just because island carts are utilitarian in function doesn't mean they can't be aesthetically pleasing, too.

Stylish, furniture-like cart options include granite or stainless steel tops, paneled cabinet doors and bases of solid-wood construction.

10 Kitchen Islands

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