Check out these kitchen island ideas to help you find the one that’s just right for your kitchen.
A multi-tiered countertop lets this island perform double duty as a work surface and an eating counter. Different countertop materials — quartz composite on the lower and solid walnut for the fanciful curved upper — makes the distinction clear. The work surface is at the standard kitchen countertop height of 36 inches, and the eating counter is about 7 inches taller. The eating counter also helps screen the kitchen prep area from the rest of the room.
This handsome island gets a helping hand with a freestanding table extension. Mismatched heights add to the furniture-quality look of the island, while identical granite surfaces and wood finishes help everything blend together. It’s definitely an eat-in design, but, if needed, the table can be moved to another area to add dining capacity.
Your island should be nicely fitted to your kitchen space. A big island works well in this plus-size kitchen, but don’t skimp on working room. The National Kitchen and Bath Association recommends a minimum of 42 inches between your island and surrounding cabinets; 48 inches if you often have two cooks prepping at the same time. Max width of the island itself should be no more than 60 inches — what you can comfortably reach from either side.
Pendants lamps are an excellent way to light your island work space. They direct task lighting straight down as they shield glare from other nearby viewpoints. The Lighting Research Center recommends a minimum of 360 lumens per fixture, or for every 4½ sq. ft. of counter space. Keep pendants high enough so that you can easily see under them for chatting with guests.
Islands make ideal locations for a prep sink, but you’ll want to install a fairly compact, single-bowl sink that leaves plenty of uninterrupted work surface. Plumbing a prep sink is easy if your kitchen is over a crawl space or unfinished basement; figure additional time and money if you’re retrofitting over a slab or basement with a finished ceiling.
Most building codes require at least one outlet per island, and it must be GFCI protected. Pop-up outlets ($160-$230) are a convenient way to get juice when you need it and hide it when you don’t. No more draping cords over the edge of your countertop, either. However, you’ll need clear space underneath the pop-up so it won’t interfere with drawers and stored items.
Smart Kitchen Island IdeasReally Green Countertops
Quartz-based countertops use abundant natural materials and eco-sensitive manufacturing — they’re often specified for buildings trying to achieve LEED certification. They come in lots of colors (Apple Martini shown here), and they’re harder and less porous than granite. Cost is $60-$85 per sq. ft., installed. Add a footrest ($350) and belly up to the bar!
Your kitchen and dining room might be open to each other, but that doesn’t mean guests have to watch you boil spaghetti and throw onion skins in the garbage. This three-sided island wall divides and conquers — it’s tall enough to keep messes out of sight but low enough that you can still chat with guests as you prep.
Islands are smart locations for ancillary appliances, such as ovens, microwaves, and undercounter refrigerators. Face appliances toward main working areas for convenience. Putting appliances in your island makes them easy to reach — a consideration for anyone with mobility concerns.
Turn your island into a recycling center with pull-out trays and bins. You can retrofit existing cabinet cubbies into pull-outs with kits that feature full-extension trays and slides and have dual-bin capacity for $80 to $200.
Need more workspace and storage but don’t want the expense of adding an island? A rolling cart with a butcher block top is the ideal helpmate and costs $100 to $300. Be sure the casters can be locked so you won’t have to chase your cookie dough all over the kitchen.