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Buying Guide for the Perfect Kitchen Island

Island Types || Function || Kitchen Shape || Seating Space || Color Combination || Lighting || Traffic Flow || Open Shelves

Kitchen islands make the perfect solution to add space and functionality to a kitchen. Not only can you use them to store your pots, pans, dishes, and appliances, but it also provides you with vital additional working space. 

However, it is well worth it only if you choose the right unit that blends well into your kitchen. This is where this buying guide helps you select the right unit for your home.


Island types

The two most basic kitchen island types are fixed and moveable versions. While both do help add lots of storage and work space to the kitchen, they also have its share of individual disadvantages. 

1. Built-in versions

A built-in version is a better option for houses with big kitchens because you can also use them as some additional dining area for meals. Besides, the presence of some dining space in the kitchen always fetches you a better price if you want to sell your home later on. 

2.  Mobile versions

Movable islands are as the name suggests, kitchen islands that can be moved and easily relocated as necessary. This is a good investment if you have a small kitchen. You can roll the unit around the kitchen to use as required for entertaining guests, cooking your food or cleaning dishes or vegetables.

It is also a wiser option if you are on a budget, or if you live in rented homes because you can take it along with you whenever you shift. Beside, movable carts can also be moved outdoors to use for campfires, BBQ parties and even pool parties.


You have to select your kitchen island based on its functionalities. While providing a second counter and dining space are the most common functions of kitchen islands, there are some other functions you can also consider:

  • You can install a small sink in the island for small cleaning tasks like washing vegetables and leave the larger, regular sink exclusively for dishes.     
  • Some units have an overhead storage unit you can use for hanging your pots and pans. 
  • Some people add a cooking range to the island for additional counter cooking space and to accommodate ovens.
  • Kitchen islands with a marble surface are a better choice for people who do a lot of baking. You will find the smooth marble surface helpful for kneading your dough. However if you want the island for more cooking space, then a butcher Block Island is a better investment. Islands with stainless steel tops are useful for carrying and cooling hot pans.

Kitchen shape

While a kitchen island can be used in any kitchen, it’s the large U and L-shaped kitchens which accommodate them the best. This is why many people buy their kitchen carts based on the shape of their kitchen.

While an island in the middle of a U-shaped kitchen creates two workstations, it defines the space between the kitchen’s open end and the rest of the house in case of L-shaped kitchens. Kitchen islands are however not that useful in kitchens that have two parallel workspaces and some floor space in between because it makes working and moving around rather difficult.

Sometimes a rectangular unit may not fit well into your kitchen. If this is the case, you may consider buying an oval, L or T-shaped island instead which easily blends in.  

Seating space

If you plan to have meals at the kitchen island, then you have to buy and place an island that provides for at least 24 inches of space, and sufficient space for a stool or chair per person. It is also better if there’s clearance of at least 9 to 13 inches at the bottom of the counter as it provides for sufficient legroom.

While buying seats for the kitchen make sure you buy something that’s proportional to your island. Chairs are a better option for counters that are 28 to 30-inch tall while low stools are better for islands with 36-inch counters. However, bar stools make better seats in case of tall counters that are 42 to 48” tall.

Color combination

It is obvious that the kitchen island should blend well with the interiors of your kitchen. This means that any overhead storage it has should be similar in color and design to your kitchen cabinets. If you opt for something different, remember that the right contrasting colors do help increase the oomph in your kitchen.


You need adequate lighting in your kitchen design for maximum work efficiency, which means your kitchen island should also come with sufficient lighting. It blends in better if its lighting is similar to whatever kitchen lights you have. And if you plan to do some cooking on the island, then it’s worth fitting a vent hood from the ceiling. 

Adequate traffic flow

One of the most important points to consider while buying kitchen islands is that it requires a minimum of 36 to 48 inches of space around all sides. This provides for easy movement around the island and kitchen while working.  There is no point having an island in the kitchen if it is eventually going to hamper your work productivity. If this is the case, it will end up being more like a hindrance or botheration to you, than an asset to the kitchen.

Open shelves

If you plan to use the island for storing utensils or your special dishware, then it will look better if you buy a unit that comes with open shelves. Islands with open shelves are comparatively cheaper because they require fewer materials and less labor to build. 

These points should help you buy the ideal and perfect kitchen island for your kitchen. Lastly, remember that no matter what your plans may be for buying a kitchen island, it is always better to buy one which comes with additional electrical outlets. These outlets prove helpful if you plan to use ovens, blenders, and toasters to improve your kitchen workflow efficiency.

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