Mobile Islands That Expand Small Kitchens' Functionality

  • 01 of 04

    Mobile Kitchen Island: Solution to Kitchen Space Issues

    Kitchen Mobile Butcher Block Island
    Jean-Yves Bruel / Getty Images

    Islands are coveted additions to kitchens since they increase countertop space, shelving, and in some cases, sink and cooktop capabilities. But since they are additions to the kitchen, islands can be difficult to fit into this already tight, densely packed space. When you have a small kitchen, this juggling act becomes even more difficult. For many homeowners, mobile kitchen islands or prep carts are a good compromise.

    Fixed Kitchen Islands' Space Demands

    Fixed kitchen islands, while beneficial in so many ways, are notorious space-stealers. Kitchen islands alone tend to eat up a minimum of 15 square feet (3 feet wide by 5 feet long). This is a lot of room to use when you consider that an average kitchen is sized in the range of 100 to 200 square feet.

    Yet it is not just the monopolization of room by the island that is of concern. In tandem with the kitchen island comes the need for more space around the island. While not part of the building code, it is strongly recommended that aisles be 42 inches wide at a minimum for single cook kitchens and 48 inches wide for multiple cook kitchens.

    Mobile Islands and Prep Carts

    Shrinking space reduces the possibility that your small kitchen will ever have a fixed kitchen island. But there is a solution that is a compromise and it makes sense, costs little, and gives your kitchen maximum flexibility.

    Many mobile and other non-fixed furniture-style kitchen islands provide nearly the same type of surface and size as a fixed island. They are usually high enough to work on, and because many come with casters or wheels, they can be moved out of the way when they are no longer needed.

    If rolling kitchen carts feel too shaky and unsubstantial, yet you do not want to build a full-size, fixed island, a semi-mobile kitchen island might be right for you. These islands have two wheels on one end to allow for movement and two rubber feet on the opposite end to prevent the island from sliding around after you have moved it.

    Some premium, full-feature mobile islands approach fixed kitchen island status, with spice racks, drawers, shelves, paper towel holders, and a host of other features.

    Mobile Islands Pros and Cons


    • Adding a mobile island to your kitchen will usually be less expensive than building a fixed island.
    • Mobile kitchen islands truly are mobile. If you move, you can bring the island with you.
    • Mobile islands can be quickly and easily wheeled, slid, or carried out of the way to free up kitchen floor space.


    • Most mobile islands are smaller than fixed islands.
    • Mobile island countertops are usually, but not always, wood or stainless steel. However, in some models, the countertop can be the same as the perimeter countertop material: solid surface, engineered stone, or laminate.
    • Mobile islands cannot be plumbed or hard-wired for electricity.
    • Many mobile islands have casters or wheels. When these are removed, total height is reduced, on average, from around 35 inches high to around 31 or 32 inches high.
    Continue to 2 of 4 below.
  • 02 of 04

    Kitchen Island Prep Table

    Kitchen Island Prep Table
    Hero Images / Getty Images

    Often, downsizing your kitchen island is as easy as finding a prep table of the correct height. This kitchen island is ideally sized, not only in terms of height but in terms of width. Its narrow width, in the 24-inch range, allows for a maximum amount of floor space in the kitchen. While not wheeled, this kitchen is so lightweight that two people can easily carry it to the side of the kitchen or even into another room.

    Continue to 3 of 4 below.
  • 03 of 04

    Kitchen Island With Mobile Section

    Kitchen Island and Mobile Section
    Aleksandra Zlatkovic / Getty Images

    When you want a fixed kitchen island and you want a mobile kitchen island, there is a compromise available. Some kitchen islands are hybrid, semi-permanent pieces. The larger section remains in place, with a smaller wheeled section that can be rolled in or out according to your needs. The two sections of this kitchen island mate perfectly, both height- and appearance-wise.

    Continue to 4 of 4 below.
  • 04 of 04

    Chic Mobile Kitchen Island

    Chic Mobile Kitchen Island
    Ryan McVay / Getty Images

    Wood such as oak and pine figures heavily into most mobile kitchen island designs. But it is possible to break out of that routine with sleek, sophisticated materials such as chromed metal, glass, and engineered stone countertops. This mobile kitchen island is the perfect complement to a modern-styled kitchen, and it provides a quick eating space for busy homeowners on the run.