The Lowdown on Kitchen Island Types, Essentials, and Design Ideas

The Lowdown on Kitchen Island Types, Essentials, and Design Ideas

Kitchen Remodeling
Additions and Remodels
Cabinets and Countertops
By Contractors.com Team August 24, 2021

One of the most attractive kitchen additions is the famous kitchen island. It is both a practical and stylish design feature that adds more versatility to the kitchen, gives more counter space, and additional ways of sprucing up the interior. The free standing kitchen island is a great addition for any homeowner who has enough space to accommodate it.

But before deciding to install an island counter into your kitchen you might be curious as the intricacies and features involved in choosing one. There are various types of island counters, styles, as well as essential features to consider. Being familiar with them could help you make a more informed decision when it’s time for the installation.

Kitchen Island Types

There are enough kitchen island variations to suite your particular kitchen layout and your family’s lifestyle. Almost all boast reasons to love them and some things to consider before you make your decision

Cabinets to Go With the Island Countertop

Maximizing Storage In Your Kitchen Island

Maximizing Storage In Your Kitchen Island

Kitchen designers across the board will probably define a kitchen island this way. It is nothing overly complicated — a set of cabinets and drawers situated in the center of a large kitchen with a countertop. Kitchen island dimensions vary in size and shape, though most homeowners opt for square or rectangular islands as they are the most space-efficient. 

As for size, you should ensure that there is at least 40 inches of space between the island and the rest of the kitchen countertops. Regardless of whether you have a huge kitchen island or a small one, these 40 inches should help you fit it into the room without limiting space and creating traffic in the kitchen. This standard also exists to keep cabinet doors from hitting other surfaces, such as other doors, drawers, walls, and kitchen appliances like refrigerators and ovens. 

Fully Operational Kitchen Island

Kitchen Islands that Are Loaded With Appliances but Don't Lack In Chic Appearance

Kitchen Islands that Are Loaded With Appliances but Don't Lack In Chic Appearance

This is your heavy hitter. It comes with everything, including the limitless potential for expansion both in terms of functionality and style. Connecting it to the plumbing, electricity, and gas lines gives the kitchen island full access to sinks, burners, ovens, dishwashers, minifridges, and anything that can fit into its cabinets.

The one downside to these kinds of kitchen islands is that they’re a bit more labor intensive to install than other options. Because of the many systems at play, you will most likely require the help of electricians, plumbers, and general contractors to get the job done. Luckily finding them should be a breeze. Before you know it you can have your own fully operational kitchen island ready to be used as anything from a prep station to a dedicated wash space.

Kitchen Island Table

Lightweight Kitchen Islands that Are Perfect for a Small

Lightweight Kitchen Islands that Are Perfect for a Small

While it may not have the advantage of extra storage, the kitchen island table is a great way to increase counter space without the need for complicated renovations or additions. Youwill  most likely not be able to install a sink or burner on this kitchen island. But for many homeowners keeping things simple and efficient is the name of the game.

To side step the lack of cabinets, you can easily install a baker’s rack or a few shelves under the table to add storage space. This will actually a less bulky way to do so, allowing more light to travel through your kitchen. One way or another, the kitchen island table is a fantastic addition to your kitchen and opens up plenty of options to get creative. 

Portable Rolling Island 

For homeowners working with less kitchen space, a very practical workaround is the rolling island. This is essentially a large kitchen cart that can be placed in the middle of the room then rolled out when it is no longer needed. The portable kitchen island is much more cost-effective than having to install an entirely new kitchen island counter, but they do come with a few downsides as well. 

The kitchen island trolley has a lot of moving parts and with enough time, these may be prone to more wear and tear than more rigid counterparts. As a result, it will require you to either be very careful when using the kitchen cart on wheels or prepare for regular maintenance. On the other hand, many modern rolling islands are made with very durable materials that are designed to last for a very long time. If you can invest in a higher quality kitchen island, trolly maintenance will not be a regular issue.

Multi-Functional Island

Stunning Kitchen Islands Perfect for A Family Breakfast Bar

Stunning Kitchen Islands Perfect for A Family Breakfast Bar

Why limit your island kitchen to one countertop surface when you can make it even more versatile? There is no rule against having two (or more) surfaces on your island kitchen. You can install a sink and burner on the lower level and make it more utilitarian. Keeping the second worktop a little elevated allows you to make a breakfast bar, so you can separate the cooking or washing from the eating and relaxing.

Kitchen Island Essentials

While there are no requirements or restrictions as to what you can install in and around your kitchen island, there are some essentials that are popular with most homeowners for a reason. All these kitchen island features can have their place in your kitchen and offer a range of benefits.

Wash Station On the Island

A Kitchen Island That Has It All

A Kitchen Island That Has It All

A kitchen island with sink and dishwasher installations can become a valuable asset to your work in the kitchen. On busy holidays with everyone running in and out of the kitchen there is only so much room to work with when the dishes start to pile up. You can use the island kitchen to do the washing while the rest of the countertops are used for cooking and prep. This will keep everything organized and prevent dirty dishes from getting in the way of cooking.

Burner and Oven In Center Stage

Speaking of cooking, having an extra burner or oven on standby is always great when all the others are busy. This is just another step in your optimization of the cooking process and can take some weight off your shoulders as you spread out the work throughout the kitchen instead of letting it pile up in one corner. Keep in mind that you would have to install a kitchen hood above the stove if you add one or change yours to be on the island. Since the island kitchen is farther away from windows, smoke needs a closer escape route. Thus, installing a kitchen hood above the kitchen island is not only a matter of convenience but also of safety.

Electric Outlets for the Hangout Kitchen Island

Kitchen outlets are essential for many uses from powering various appliances at once to the simple convenience of having your phone charging nearby as you cook. The island kitchen, when hooked up to the electrical system, can house all kinds of outlets to help make your life a little easier. Modern kitchens will often also feature smart technology (which also requires electricity) making smart outlets placement even more important.

Good Lighting For Style and Sight

A Gorgeous Kitchen Island Can Never Be Too Dressed Up

A Gorgeous Kitchen Island Can Never Be Too Dressed Up

Lighting can make or break any room. The most common types of lighting fixtures used above island kitchen islands are pendants. Many interior designers recommend following the rule of three and installing three of them to spread out the light along with the countertop. If you do not want to turn on the main kitchen lighting in the evenings, these pendant lights will be more than enough to illuminate the kitchen island for safe midnight snack consumption.

Timeless Kitchen Island Ideas

When it comes to design and style, there are plenty of kitchen island ideas that you can use for inspiration to create a design that is unique to your kitchen and tastes.

Stainless Steel Island and Lunch Table

Designing a Kitchen Island that Stands Out from the Crowd

Designing a Kitchen Island that Stands Out from the Crowd

Aside from being very durable, the stainless steel kitchen island offers a set of functional and aesthetic benefits. Stainless steel surfaces are very easy to clean. And as far as cooking goes, they make it easier to see the smaller ingredients thanks to their monotone color. No more bits of parsley blending in with the granite. While steel surfaces are susceptible to scratching, they are still very durable, easy to clean, and maintaining them is a breeze. As for their appearance, they look super sleek and make for the perfect work surface in a contemporary kitchen. 

Marble Waterfall Kitchen Island

Timeless Kitchen Island Ideas that Are Minimalist and Elegant

Timeless Kitchen Island Ideas that Are Minimalist and Elegant

When it comes to kitchen island trends, one very recent one that has caught the eye of countless homeowners is the waterfall kitchen island. Conventional kitchen island counters have an edge that simply stops midair. Waterfall kitchen islands take a more interesting approach by allowing the countertop to flow down to the floor. The seamless result looks as if the countertop is melting and helps expand the space.

Wide Counter with Plenty of Space

Prioritizing Counter Space and Building a Kitchen Island For It

Prioritizing Counter Space and Building a Kitchen Island For It

If you happen to have a narrow kitchen island but still wish to have plenty of room to cook, prep, or clean on, consider purchasing a countertop with more surface area. As long as the island cabinet below can handle the extra weight, you should have no problem with installing a countertop that’s wider and longer than the cabinetry that supports it.

Custom Island Pendant Lights

 

Customizing Your Kitchen Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune, It Can Be In the Smaller Details

Customizing Your Kitchen Doesn't Have to Cost a Fortune, It Can Be In the Smaller Details

Custom kitchen islands need to reflect your character and the ambiance you are trying to project through your design decisions. The same principle should guide you in lighting choice. Custom pendant lights are a great choice because they create a more wholesome atmosphere that works nicely with the rest of the interior. They can both play things up in the kitchen or serve to simplify.

Chic Leather Bar Stools

 

Be Bold With Your Kitchen Island Bar Stools

Be Bold With Your Kitchen Island Bar Stools

While the typical kitchen island bar stool setup tend to be simple in design, as they are not meant to be sat on for long periods, you can still get quite creative with their design. Complement the more muted and traditional colors of your kitchen with more vibrant colors on the stools to add vitality and character. If you are planning on spending a long time sitting around the kitchen island, consider applying substantial cushions to make your seating more comfortable. 

Make a Statement With Your Island

A Kitchen Island That Brings All the Character and Comfort

A Kitchen Island That Brings All the Character and Comfort

Harmony is important when it comes to interior design but too much uniformity can make the room blend together and simply look boring. Our eyes have an acute ability to pick up on minor nuances and differences in the environment. This is why using a different color on the island or its countertop could make for a nice change of pace and a more attractive interior. Just avoid going overboard with the contrast as it may run the risk of being an eyesore.

Half Counter, Half Table

Designing Your Island to Suit Your Needs

Designing Your Island to Suit Your Needs

The list of island counters above is by no means a definite one. You can design yours to combine features from different variations if it fits your idea of what the kitchen should look like. There is absolutely nothing stopping you from building a kitchen island that is half a standard cabinet base and half a kitchen island table.

Written by
Contractors.com Team

Written by Contractors.com Team