If you frequently find yourself wishing for more storage or prep space in your kitchen, an island might be a good investment for your home. While kitchen islands often come built-in with many modern houses, you can also buy them separately from many online retailers, which is handy if you live in an older home or apartment. We researched the best kitchen islands based on materials, size, and special features.
“The most important factor to consider when purchasing a freestanding kitchen island is that its size is dimensionally appropriate for the space,” says Cathy Purple Cherry of Purple Cherry Architects. “Ideally, you would wish to maintain 42 inches between the perimeter of the kitchen and the island.”
Our top pick for a kitchen island is the Crate & Barrel Belmont Kitchen Island because it has ample storage space, a food-safe counter finish, and a drop-leaf for extra seating.
Here are the best kitchen islands to make meal prep a breeze.
Best Overall: Crate & Barrel Belmont Kitchen Island
Simple yet stylish design
Solid wood counter with food-safe finish
Drop leaf for seating
Ample storage space
Casters sold separately
Bar stools sold separately
Who else recommends it? NBC News also picked the Crate & Barrel Belmont Kitchen Island.
What do buyers say? 160+ Crate & Barrel reviewers rated this product 4 stars or above.
The Belmont Kitchen Island is a top choice for any home, as it has a classic design that will suit any space and thoughtful features that make it versatile. This island comes in three colors—black, white, and a fun mint green—and it’s topped with a piece of solid rubberwood butcher block that’s been treated with a food-safe oil finish. If those aren't reason enough to love it, there’s even a drop leaf on one side that can be folded up to accommodate two bar stools for eating, so you can sit and enjoy watching your partner prep a meal.
Hang a seasonal tea towel on the side and use the large storage space for pots and pans or extra food storage. The interior shelf is adjustable, so you can customize it to your preferences. The base of this island is made from engineered wood with a rubberwood veneer, and it has two drawers and two enclosed cabinets. The island is supported by tapered wooden legs. It can be mounted on caster wheels for improved portability, but they’re sold separately.
Best Budget: Gracie Oaks Delesha Multifunction Prep Table
Sturdy metal base
Ample storage space
Low weight capacity
Manufactured wood top
If you need a little extra prep space in your kitchen but don’t want to spend a lot, this narrow prep table is a budget-friendly option. It has an industrial aesthetic with its metal base, exposed screws, and faux-wood accents, and the two open shelves—one of which is solid and one of which is slats—provide ample room for storing pots, pans, small appliances, cookbooks, and more.
While certainly chic and affordable, this product does have a few caveats worth noting. First, its top is made from manufactured wood, so you’ll likely want to avoid placing hot or wet objects onto the surface. Additionally, each of the shelves can only support up to 30 pounds, so it’s not the best storage spot for heavy appliances.
Best Splurge: Williams Sonoma Cooper Double Kitchen Island
Ample storage space
Leg levelers for stability
Includes White Glove delivery
No cabinet space
The Cooper Double Kitchen Island may be expensive, but we think this high-end piece is worth every penny. It’s crafted from solid spruce wood with a beautiful natural finish, and the island is topped with a polished limestone inlay that’s durable and eye-catching. Plus, the island has a double-sided design with a whopping six drawers on each side, providing ample storage space for all your kitchen tools and linens.
In addition to all its drawers, the island also has a low-slatted shelf for additional storage as well as towel bars on both ends. There are levelers on the bottom of all the legs for stability on uneven flooring, and the piece will be delivered into your home via White Glove delivery.
Best Small: Kleidman 30'' Kitchen Island
Ideal for small spaces
Butcher block countertop
Compartment for garbage can
If you have a small kitchen, the Kleidman Kitchen Island is extremely compact, measuring roughly 30 by 24 inches. However, despite its small form, this piece of furniture delivers big in terms of functionality. It features a pull-out storage drawer that’s designed to hold a trash can up to 10 gallons, and on the opposite side, there are two open shelves for storing dishes, appliances, and more.
This prep table has a solid wood butcher block top where you can prep your meals, and there are two metal towel racks on either side. However, the assembly is fairly complex and time-consuming, and it’s important to note that each of the shelves only has a weight capacity of 10 pounds.
Best Large: Williams Sonoma Barrelson Kitchen Island with Marble Top
Attractive marble top
Ample storage space
Overhang for comfortable seating
Includes White Glove delivery
Marble can be stained by acidic foods
The Barrelson Kitchen Island is an oversized option that’s sure to look stunning in any open kitchen, as it measures a whopping 7 feet long. The high-end piece is crafted from solid wood and available with two hardware options, and it’s topped with a beautiful piece of white marble from Italy. One side of the island features four drawers and two enclosed cabinets for storage, while the other has a sit-in structure where you can comfortably sit using a bar stool.
This island is supported by stately columns on each end, and four open shelves offer additional storage. Each side has a towel bar, as well, and the wide cabinet features an adjustable shelf inside. The only downside of this elegant island is that marble can stain if exposed to acidic foods like wine or coffee, so you’ll need to clean it properly.
Best Portable: Crosley Kitchen Cart with Granite Top
Several color/material combinations
Mounted on locking caster wheels
Includes spice rack and paper towel holder
Three adjustable shelves
No open shelving
For an island that you can effortlessly move around your kitchen as needed, consider the Crosley Kitchen Cart, which is mounted on heavy-duty locking caster wheels. The cart is crafted from wood with a granite top, and what’s nice is that there are a large number of color/finish combinations to choose from, including natural wood and stainless steel tops, as well.
This portable kitchen island has two drawers, as well as two enclosed cabinets, and there are three adjustable shelves inside for storage. On the exterior, you’ll find a spice rack, towel bar, and even a paper towel holder, allowing you to effortlessly keep essentials at hand. The only downside is that this island is just 18 inches deep, giving you somewhat limited space to work on—however, the flip side of the coin is that the unit is slim enough to push up against a wall as needed. Plus, since it's so portable, it's renter-friendly.
Best Outdoor: Pottery Barn Indio Metal Outdoor Kitchen Island
Removable ice troughs
Mounted on caster wheels
You can turn your patio into the perfect hosting setup with the Indio Metal Outdoor Kitchen Island. This stylish unit is crafted from weather-resistant aluminum and stainless steel, and it’s mounted on caster wheels for portability. The island features one storage drawer and a lower slatted shelf, and you can actually remove half of the top to reveal two removable ice troughs for easy entertaining.
Plus, the brand offers a wide range of matching furniture—including outdoor cabinets—if you want to create a cohesive outdoor kitchen.
Best with Rack: IKEA VADHOLMA Kitchen Island
Overhead rack for storage
Space for counter stools
Keep all your pots and pans within reach with the VADHOLMA Kitchen Island, which comes with a convenient storage rack over the top. It’s ideal for renters who want a pot rack but can’t hang one from the ceiling! Like most furniture from IKEA, this island is crafted from a combination of solid wood, particleboard, and veneer, and the countertop features a thick oak veneer with a rustic end-grain design.
On one side, the island has two open, slatted shelves for storage, while the other side is left open for you to tuck stools underneath. It comes with 10 hooks for hanging items off the rack, and the product is backed by a 25-year limited warranty.
Best with Seating: Rosecliff Heights Cytheria 48'' Kitchen Island Set
Comes with matching stools
Durable granite inlay
Drop-leaf for added counter space
Ample storage space
Granite prone to water spots
The Rosecliff Heights Cytheria Kitchen Island Set comes with two matching stools, saving you the hassle of finding chairs that will work with your new piece. The island itself is crafted from wood with a stately black finish, and it’s topped with a sleek granite inlay. The base features beadboard paneling for a classic appearance, and there’s a convenient drop leaf that allows you to create more eating space as needed.
This kitchen island has a two-door cabinet, one wide drawer, and three open shelves on each end, giving you plenty of space to display decor and kitchen essentials. As for its chairs, they feature a simple, classic design, sporting a full back for support and black vinyl upholstery.
Best with Butcher Block: West Elm Frame Kitchen Console, Butcher Block
Solid oak butcherblock
Durable metal frame
High weight capacity
Levelers on legs
If you like butcher block countertops, you’re sure to love this contemporary island, which is topped with a piece of beautiful solid oak butcher block. The island has a very simple design featuring a white base and natural wood top, and there are two full-length open shelves on one side. The reverse has an opening where you can tuck two stools, and the frame is made from durable powder-coated iron. The butcherblock has been finished with linseed oil, and the legs of the island have adjustable levelers to keep it stable on uneven flooring.
The Crate & Barrel Belmont Kitchen Island is a well-built option for your home. It comes in three different colors, all of which sport a solid wood butcher block top, and there's ample storage underneath for all your kitchen supplies. If you want something for your outdoor space, try the Pottery Barn Indio Metal Outdoor Kitchen Island which features removable ice troughs and a sleek design.
What to Look for in a Kitchen Island
Before committing to an island, make sure it’s proportional to your kitchen. Allow for 36 to 48 inches of space around the perimeter of the island, so you’re not elbowing anyone while chopping vegetables. As for height, 36 inches is standard, likely matching the height of your countertops, but if you plan to use your island as an eating area, 42 inches may be a better option for extra legroom.
Think about what you most want out of an island. Is it storage? Then shop for one with drawers and cabinets. Are you most excited about the idea of extra workspace? Perhaps one with a butcher block top would be a good fit for you. Imagining how you’ll use the island will help narrow down different features, such as closed cabinets versus open shelves, bar stools, and countertop material.
Plumbing and Wiring
While some islands function as portable workspaces, others are permanent fixtures to a kitchen. If you’re leaning towards the latter, consider the cost and benefits of building in plumbing and wiring. You’d be surprised at how helpful an island sink or electrical plugs can be. Bonus: a fully wired island increases the resale value of your home.
Are kitchen islands still popular?
It’s hard to imagine a time when kitchen islands won’t be popular. Since rising in popularity in the 1980s, when houses (and therefore kitchens) grew in size, kitchen islands have been considered the workhorse of a modern kitchen. They provide you with more counter space, more storage, possibly a place for an appliance or sink, as well as an eating area where you can belly up bar stools.
How do you decorate a kitchen island?
A little bit of decoration goes a long way on a kitchen island. Be careful not to clutter your island, though, since most likely you’ll want the counter space for preparing dinner and dropping bags of groceries. A vase full of fresh flowers is always a good idea, as are plants or a fruit bowl centerpiece—anything that brings a little life to your kitchen and is easy to move out of the way if need be.
"If there are open shelves below the countertop, fill them with matching or coordinating baskets filled with produce or matching canisters filled with goods such as beautiful pastas or dog treats," recommends Cherry. "For décor items on the surface, purchase an appropriately sized element so as to not overwhelm the work area."
How do you build an island for your kitchen?
For the handy folks amongst us, building your own kitchen island can be a satisfying and not-so-complicated DIY project. Here are 20 DIY kitchen island plans with step-by-step instructions to get you started. They run the gamut of sizes and styles, with different features to fulfill your kitchen’s needs.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written and researched by Camryn Rabideau, a freelance writer specializing in decorating and design. While putting together a list of kitchen islands to include, she interviewed Cathy Purple Cherry of Purple Cherry Architects for insights on how to select the best option for your space. She looked at factors such as the materials, size, and features of each island when selecting products to include.
Additional research was done by Megan McCarty, a writer for The Spruce and MyDomaine with over 13 years of experience in both print and digital media. She regularly contributes to design-focused outlets such as Architectural Digest, Domino, House & Home, and Hunker.