The 5 Qualities of a Perfect Kitchen Island

They’re a gathering place, a homework space, and a spot to serve up your perfect souffle. Kitchen islands are all about functionality and flexibility, and they can make a kitchen feel cohesive. While some home projects take months, an island is a nearly instant addition that can totally transform the space.

Picking the right island still takes some thought, though, since you have to take into consideration how you use your kitchen and how you entertain in order to wind up with the most functionality. Here are 5 tips for choosing your perfect kitchen island.

wooden kitchen

Improves your kitchen’s functionality

Pay attention to how you use your kitchen. Do you feel like you run out of room while you’re cooking dinner, or is it impossible to have other people in there with you helping you cook? If so, you’ll likely be using your island as an area to slice and dice. How many people typically gather in your kitchen? If your typical Friday evening involves hosting a dinner party, you’ll want a bar space where your friends can sit or rest their drinks and hors d’oeuvre plates. Do you do a lot of baking? Perhaps marble countertops would take your doughs to the next level. And what about cleaning up? A kitchen island can house your primary sink or a second sink, and placing a dishwasher within the island will make dish duty a cinch. Or switch up the sink for a countertop range so you can cook while facing your family or guests.

exposed wood beams in kitchen

Durable surface material

Your island doesn’t have to completely match the rest of your kitchen, but it should complement it. If your countertops are granite, for example, consider using something completely different like concrete, reclaimed wood, or butcher block for your island’s counters. Butcher block counters could be especially useful if you determine you’ll be using your island mostly as a prep area for cooking. If you entertain frequently, take into consideration that your guests may lean up against the island or put wine glasses or cups on the counter—so you’d maybe want something that wouldn’t be susceptible to water stains.

kitchen island ideas

Great storage

A lot happens on the counter of a kitchen island, but don’t forget about all that space underneath. Added functionality in the form of storage can solve your space issues with drawers, cabinets, and open shelving to display your most-loved cookbooks and maybe even that trophy you got for winning 1st place in the chili cook-off. Even if you want one side of the island to serve as a bar, guests can pull up directly to a side covered with drawers—no need for the overleaf for them to pull up to.

Supports your specializations

Here’s your chance to not just add functionality, but showcase your passions. A prized wine collection can have its very own spot by adding bottle shelving and an under-counter wine fridge that keeps your finest cabernet at the perfect temperature, ready to pour. Use another side of the island for glass storage, and you’ve just created the perfect spot that’s both aesthetically pleasing and functional.

rustic stools

Transforms throughout the day

A good kitchen island will be able to do many things depending on the time of day and the company, transforming from an early morning breakfast spot to a sleek cocktail bar at night. Here are a few things your island can be:

  • a separate breakfast space
  • brunch service
  • second stove
  • additional sink
  • storage for cookbooks and extra less-used dishes
  • drawer space for china and silverware
  • station for pet food and feeding
  • children’s cooking area
  • extra cooking surface
  • storage for pots (hanging overhead)
  • homework space while the table is being set
  • dessert and coffee bar for company
  • company cooking space

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