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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—handy if you live in an older home or apartment.
Be sure to take the size of your space into account when shopping for a kitchen island. You’ll want to make sure there’s ample room to move around the island as well as clearance to open appliances like the dishwasher and oven. You’ll also want to decide whether you want any specific features on your kitchen island, such as a slide-out table for extra seating, a pan rack, or even a high-end marble or granite top. All of these factors, plus your personal style, will lead you to the best kitchen island for your home.
Here, the best kitchen islands to make meal prep a breeze.
Best Budget: Three Posts Hardiman Kitchen Cart
You can easily and inexpensively transform your kitchen with the Three Posts Hardiman Kitchen Cart, a budget-friendly kitchen island mounted on locking caster wheels. This top-rated island is 36 x 53.75 x 29 inches, and it features three drawers, a cabinet with two inner shelves, a built-in towel rack, and a drop-down leaf, making it an incredibly versatile addition to your home.
The Hardiman Kitchen Cart is made from manufactured wood, and its wooden top doubles as a butcher block for when you need to prep dinner. Its drop-down leaf can be extended to add extra seating to the island, and it even has a built-in spice rack on one end, so you can keep frequently used items within reach. Just be prepared to set aside some time for assembly—this piece has a lot of parts to fit together.
Best Splurge: Pottery Barn Elworth Kitchen Island
If you’re looking for a high-quality, sturdy kitchen island with a rustic or industrial aesthetic, the Elworth Kitchen Island will check every box on your wishlist. This high-end island is 36 x 60 x 36 inches, but it reaches a maximum length of 102 inches when its pull-out table is extended, allowing it to double as an eating area.
This gorgeous island is crafted from solid, kiln-dried acacia wood with veneers, and its top is made from sealed concrete for a sleek industrial appearance. It features five drawers where you can store utensils, linens, and more as well as a large open shelf that’s the perfect space to keep frequently used kitchen appliances.
Best for Large Kitchens: Crate & Barrel Large 72" French Kitchen Island
For those with spacious kitchens, you’re going to need a sizable island to match the scale of the room. One of the largest kitchen islands available today is the stunning Crate & Barrel Large French Kitchen Island, which measures 72 inches long—that’s an impressive 6 feet!
This luxe island has a stunning marble countertop supported by a black cast steel and aluminum base. It sports slender legs with subtle ornamental details, and the island offers plenty of storage in its three drawers, six open shelves, and towel rack. It can accommodate up to three counter stools along its length, and it features an overhang with a footrest that makes it the perfect spot for eating. Overall, this French kitchen island is truly striking, and it would make a wonderful addition to a large, Old World-style home.
Best With Drop Leaf: Homestyles Americana Kitchen Island With Drop Leaf
When you have an island with a drop leaf, like the Homestyles Americana Kitchen Island, you’ll be able to fold the leaf up and put stools underneath for seating or fold it down when you need to save space. This mid-priced kitchen island is 36.5 x 50 x 26.5 inches, and it has a traditional aesthetic that would fit in well in most kitchens. Plus, it comes in black, white, and oak finishes to match any decor.
The Americana Kitchen Island is crafted from solid hardwood and engineered wood with antique pewter hardware, and it features a distressed oak top for an aged look. The island has two drawers, a spacious inner cabinet, and open shelves on the sides for all your storage needs.
Best With Slide-Out Table: Design Element Medley Kitchen Island
The Design Element Medley Kitchen Island would look stunning in a farmhouse-style kitchen, thanks to its gray finish and hardwood countertop, and with a convenient slide-out table, it’s an unbeatable space-saving solution.
The island has a 36 x 54 x 28-inch footprint, and it features a hidden 48-inch wide table that nearly doubles your dining or prep space. On the other side, this island has three soft-close drawers with black stainless steel hardware as well as four open shelves for cookbooks, appliances, and more, and the whole unit has a solid hardwood construction that will stand the test of time.
Best With Rack: IKEA VADHOLMA Kitchen Island
You can keep pots, pans, utensils, and more within arms reach with the Vadholma Kitchen Island, which features a unique built-in overhead pot rack. The unit is 35 x 49 x 31 inches, but the rack extends up to a height of 76 inches—so make sure you have room in your kitchen before you buy!
This unique island has a black base with a wooden top, and it features two open shelves on one side and an opening for stools on the other. Its overhead rack is made from steel, and it includes a full-length shelf where you can stash all sorts of kitchen essentials and attach hooks for your cookware and cooking utensils.
What to Look for When Buying 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.
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. She covers home products for The Spruce. 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.