A kitchen island plays a functional as well as an aesthetic role within a kitchen. It provides extra storage in the form of cabinets, drawers, and a variety of shelves, but it also offers an opportunity to add personality and make a fun design statement in your kitchen.
Incorporate open shelves inside your island that double as a display surface for a dish collection or your favorite cookbooks, and hide bulky, more utilitarian items such as small appliances behind cabinet doors or inside a set of streamlined drawers. Since the island is typically positioned in the middle of the kitchen, play up its central location within the heart of the home with cool pendant lights and interesting counter stools for an additional layer of visual interest.
Keep reading for 24 stylish kitchen island storage ideas that will transform and add functionality to your space.
01 of 24
Incorporate Side Shelves
Side shelves on a kitchen island serve a twofold function: they add a display element and provide storage space. If the shelves are shallow in depth and you are using them to store fragile items such as glass canisters, install metal rods across each shelf to secure them in place.
Choose a finish that will complement your kitchen hardware and in addition to being a safety measure, the rods will add a touch of classic design.
02 of 24
Utilize Built-In Drawers
Maximize storage space with built-in island drawers. They're a great alternative to cabinets and provide hidden storage for bulky kitchen items you don't necessarily want to display. The drawers create a clean, uniform, and uncluttered look and they also make locating items much easier than having to look through a cabinet.
03 of 24
Hide an Appliance
Instead of your microwave taking up valuable countertop space or being mounted above the stove and distracting from the more decorative kitchen elements, hide it in your island. It's a more discreet location for an appliance and from a practical standpoint, positioning the microwave at a lower level reduces the risk of spills and possible burns.
04 of 24
Maximize Cabinet Space
Continue kitchen cabinetry within your island to gain extra storage space. Since a kitchen island is often located in a central spot, it's a great opportunity to make a design statement, whether it's with a stunning waterfall marble design, a contrasting cabinet color, or cool accents such as statement pendant lights and chic counter stools.Continue to 5 of 24 below.
05 of 24
Go for Open Shelving
The addition of open shelving on a kitchen island, whether on both ends or asymmetrically located at one end only lightens its overall appearance. The shelves provide easy access, so they're a good spot for items you like to have on hand, but they also serve as a nice display surface to house a collection of pottery or baskets.
06 of 24
Add a Butcher Block Island
To create an informal, rustic aesthetic, add a butcher block island next to your kitchen island. It relaxes the space and introduces new materials, not to mention additional shelf and drawer space. The wood top is a nice way to bring in some warmth, especially if you have cool-toned countertops throughout the rest of the space.
07 of 24
Create Built-In Paper Towel Storage
Products such as paper towels are a kitchen necessity, but they can clutter countertops and take away from the overall aesthetic. Install a built-in paper towel holder within your kitchen island and they will appear more hidden, but still be easy to grab as needed.
08 of 24
Mix Cabinet and Drawer Storage
For a varied look and versatile storage, incorporate both cabinets and drawers into your kitchen island design. Store extra utensils, storage bags, or small table linens in the drawers, and use the cabinets for extra dishes, pots and pans, and bakeware.Continue to 9 of 24 below.
09 of 24
Get Maximum Storage With Deep Shelves
Go for deep shelves that open up a kitchen island and leave plenty of room for larger items such as wicker baskets, mixing bowls, or a collection of jugs and vases. The country feel of this open shelf and butcher block combination makes for a charming and timeless statement.
10 of 24
Add a Display Shelf
Add a set of display shelves to your kitchen island to break up its more solid features such as a slab marble surface or solid cabinet doors. Small shelves that hold decorative items such as teacups, bowls, and other pottery will soften the island's overall appearance and offer an opportunity to display your favorite kitchenware.
11 of 24
Incorporate a Bookshelf
If you're an avid cookbook collector, designate a spot for your favorite and most frequently used cookbooks inside your kitchen island. Add bookshelves to the end of the island so your most loved recipes are always on hand.
12 of 24
Use an Open Kitchen Island
The main benefit of an open island is its visual lightness. The open feel is a great way to balance out a wall of floor-to-ceiling cabinetry. This style of kitchen island typically features one or multiple drawers at the top and an open shelf at the bottom.
To ensure you get the most out of the space, use baskets to maximize the vertical space and stack bowls or extra dishes next to them for a charming yet functional kitchen vignette.Continue to 13 of 24 below.
13 of 24
Extend Storage Above the Island
Think beyond your actual kitchen island, and install a pot rack above it. Suspend the metal rack from the ceiling, centered on the island, and hang your collection of pots and pans. It looks traditional but timeless, frees up cabinet space, and keeps your pots easy to grab.
14 of 24
Choose a Contrasting Material
Elevate your kitchen island from a standard fixture to a stunning design statement by positioning a shelf that's the same height and width flush against it. Choose a contrasting material such as natural wood to bring in warmth and a rustic element that makes for a more cozy, informal space.
15 of 24
Keep a minimalist and uncluttered aesthetic with a drawer-only design and forgo knobs and pulls for a simple, streamlined look. Pair this contemporary look with clean lines and quality materials for maximum visual impact.
16 of 24
Remove Cabinet Doors
If you're working with an existing kitchen island, give it a quick makeover by removing one, multiple, or all the cabinet doors to create instant open shelving. Paint the shelves, sides, and backs a contrasting color and use the space to hold dishes, baskets, bakeware, and more.Continue to 17 of 24 below.
17 of 24
Add Slatted Shelves
Slatted wood shelves add a nice detail to a wood kitchen island. They bring in a little more interest than a plain shelf and feel more rustic and informal. For a contrast of styles, juxtapose the shelves with a countertop featuring a decorative edge detail.
18 of 24
Install a Wine Rack
A wine rack built into a kitchen island consists of a series of open shelves each perfectly sized for a bottle of wine. It's an organized way to store a collection that keeps bottles off countertops and in a horizontal position.
19 of 24
Bring in a Rolling Island
The main benefit of a rolling kitchen island is the mobility feature. Move it from one spot to another as needed, shift its angle, and secure it in place with locks on the casters. A metal island with a butcher block top will infuse your space with a touch of industrial style and provide multiple storage shelves as well as a prep surface.
20 of 24
Hang Shelves Above the Island
Similar to a hanging pot rack, shelves suspended above a kitchen island extend its visual appearance, add a cool design statement, and provide both a storage and display surface. Use these hanging shelves to hold potted plants or glassware for a light and airy feel.Continue to 21 of 24 below.
21 of 24
Go for Stainless Steel
For a true working kitchen, you can't go wrong with a stainless steel kitchen island. Its utilitarian nature makes it a practical choice that's well suited for baking and preparing meals, as it's easy to clean and pretty much indestructible.
22 of 24
Create a Symmetrical Design
Go with a symmetrical kitchen island design and flank a row of cabinets with vertical wine racks. Use contrasting materials—such as a combination of paint and natural wood—to highlight the wine racks and create dimension.
23 of 24
Bring In a Freestanding Island
If your kitchen doesn't have an island but is large enough to accommodate one, there are countless freestanding versions available. They come in different sizes and shapes to fit a square or more narrow kitchen, as well as various materials, from black or white painted islands that'll seamlessly blend in with cabinets for an intentional look, to wood ones that bring in rustic contrast and a country kitchen vibe.
24 of 24
Display Items in Glass-Front Cabinets
To use your kitchen island as a display case, install glass-front cabinet doors. They will lighten the appearance of the whole fixture and allow you to showcase your favorite pieces, whether it's a collection of heirloom dishes, your favorite glassware, or your grandmother's tea set.