Kitchen Islands

Learn about different types and use our checklist to see if this independent structure will work for you
Kitchen With Sleek Black Countertops

Kitchen With Sleek Black Countertops

This beautiful modern kitchen features sleek architectural lines and varying depths. A gray subway tile backsplash is surrounded by built-in woodgrain cabinetry, a stainless steel refrigerator and double ovens. The large island provides plenty of space for eating and prepping areas.

Photo by: Lara Swimmer

Lara Swimmer

By: Kristen Hampshire

You always wanted an island in your kitchen. It seems like the obvious missing piece. Modern kitchens have them, and yours doesn’t. But before you draft this independent structure into your design—and incur the expense associated with cabinetry, fixtures, surface and other bells and whistles—review this kitchen island checklist and determine if your kitchen can truly support an island. There are alternatives: the peninsula and a moveable island that rolls out of the way of foot-traffic and slides in place for entertaining.

Deborah Pierce, principal, Pierce Lamb Architects, West Newton, Mass., suggests that kitchens have 11x11 feet of extra space (14x11 feet is ideal) to accommodate an island, which should be no smaller than 4 feet long and 2 feet deep (5 feet is better). Pierce recommends 3.5 feet of circulation (foot room) between counter areas.

"Kitchens can often be 10x12 or 8x16, and these just won't work for an island," she says. "In a small kitchen, I would never sacrifice the work space."

Kitchens With Islands

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Island Paradise

Kitchen islands are popular. According to the National Association of Home Builders, 80 percent of home buyers consider an island desirable or essential. But that doesn’t mean it’s right for everyone. Consider your space to make sure you have enough clearance on all sides of the island. Design by Gregory Augustine.

Photo By: Designer, Gregory Augustine

A Better Work Triangle

The island in this kitchen features a second sink to use for food preparation, creating a compact and convenient work triangle. Design by Gail Drury.

From: Drury Design

Cooktop Kitchen Island

When designing a cooktop island like this one, make sure you have the structural ability to build a ventilation hood directly above. Photo by Maxwell Mackenzie. Design by Rouzita Vahhabaghai.

Photo By: Designer, Rouzita Vahhabaghai

Traditional Kitchen Island

For many homeowners, a basic island helps make a small kitchen feel larger and adds a much-needed work surface. Design by Candice Olson.

Photo By: Designer, Candice Olson

Double Duty

This working island functions as a cooking area with a built-in stove and prep space and as a bar with seating.

From: Drury Design

Grab a Bite

This eight-foot-long island is great for grabbing a quick meal and as additional space for food prep. Design by Phyllis Harbinger.

Photo By: Designer, Phyllis Harbinger

Display Shelves

This island houses the main sink and includes bar seating and built-in display shelves. Design by Dave Stimmel.

Photo By: Designer, Dave Stimmel

Make It a Galley

This extended island gives this L-shaped kitchen a galley-like feel and features plenty of cabinet storage, counter space and seating. Design by Tina Muller.

Photo By: Designer, Tina Muller

Give It Character

Islands can be fun as well as functional. This one is designed to complement a Mediterranean kitchen, with unique features like decorative wheels, architectural details and aged texture on the cabinet doors. The rustic hanging pot rack above it adds more Old World charm.

Chef’s Island

This custom-designed stone island features a deck-mounted pot filler and custom-designed hood mixed with state-of-the-art appliances.

Photo By: Designer, Shane Inman

Gathering Place

The island in this horseshoe, or U-shape, kitchen features a second sink and acts like a dining area that can seat several people.

Small Kitchen Island

An island doesn’t have to be big, especially if you have a small kitchen. A simple island like this one is highly functional and doesn’t take up much space. Design by Didier Michot.

Entertainment Central

The island in this L-shaped kitchen allows the homeowner to prepare food on one side while entertaining guests sitting on the other side.

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