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.

sinks on a kitchen island
The Fox Group added farmhouse charm with an apron sink.
Lindsay Salazar

Shop it: Fixtures
Connor Bridge Kitchen Faucet
Rejuvenation Connor Bridge Kitchen Faucet
$1,599 at Rejuvenation
Credit: Rejuvenation
On Sale
Oletto Pull-Down Single Handle Faucet
Kraus Oletto Pull-Down Single Handle Faucet
Now 57% Off
Credit: Wayfair

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.

kitchen islands
Orangerie Home maximized storage in this petite island.
jessie preza

Entertain Guests

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.

kitchen island
Diaz + Alexander Studio and Anastasia Ratia prioritized seating and storage.
Alex Zarour

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).

kitchen galley with island on one side and countertop on the other
A microwave drawer is tucked away in this Ashbourne Designs and Ciuffo Cabinetry kitchen.
Robert Radifera

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.

double islands in a kitchen
Chauncey Boothby Interiors doubled down by adding a pair of aces.
Read McKendree

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.

kitchen with a table for a kitchen island
Weeth Home designed a custom table with a vintage feel.
Shop It: Freestanding Islands
Basque Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Crate & Barrel Basque Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Credit: Crate & Barrel
Harvest Island
Williams Sonoma Home Harvest Island
Credit: Williams Sonoma Home
Fern Kitchen Island
Anthropologie Fern Kitchen Island
Credit: Anthropologie

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