Do you really need a kitchen island? This design question continues to be hotly debated. One reason kitchen islands are so popular now is that we have fundamentally accepted the modern kitchen as a room that is meant to be seen, admired, and enjoyed by every person who stops by the house. Utilitarian and multipurpose, an island provides a focal point, upending the dining room's formality with its more relaxed invitation to work, dine, pitch in (and chop something, please!), or just serve yourself a cold one from the bev fridge. An island offers a simpler way to entertain on the fly, but it means giving up valuable real estate in this central part of your home.
What Can a Kitchen Island Do for You?
Before you go island (s)hopping, do a little self-evaluation to sort out what you want from yours. Then you’ll know if you should go big with a fully loaded pair of kitchen islands—or scrap any built-in plans in favor of a grandmillennial-approved kitchen table.
No other kitchen element does what an island can. We found five designer examples that prove how useful they can be.
Give Extra Prep Space
After all, one sink is fine, but two sinks are divine. Adding an additional sink to an island allows for extra help in the kitchen. Place it near the cooking area or in a corner out of the way to allow for quick meal preparation or cleanup.
Hold All the Things
If you already have an eat-in kitchen with seating nearby, what you really need is more storage. This simple and compact setup prioritizes cabinets and drawers to easily access everyday essentials including utensils and cookware.
Your kitchen is always full with your supersize family or your kids' after-school troop of friends. And the dining room is definitely not the preferred party spot. You need an island that offers plenty of counter stools without sacrificing elbow room.
Bring in More Gear
Ice machine? Check! Built-in microwave? Uh-huh. Secondary dishwasher? Obviously. You live for convenience, but sacrificing prime cabinet space for extra appliances is not an option. An island can easily hold your go-tos (and hide them from guests).
Go to Extremes
These two kitchen layouts are trending, but they're not right for everyone.
Two Tricked-Out Islands
You spend so much time in your kitchen, prepping, cooking, and entertaining, that one island is simply not enough. If you're bringing in a duo, each unit should have its own function. Use one for seating and storage, the other for prep and extra appliances. Leave enough space (ideally four feet) between them to have room for extra helpers.
A Small, Simple Table
You have space for a permanent island but you prefer a piece of furniture you can move around? No problem. Plenty of brands now offer mobile islands you can simply drop into place. Or add a kitchen-friendly countertop to a table or storage cabinet to create a bespoke piece.
Follow House Beautiful on Instagram.