Whether you already have a dream culinary station or you're dealing with a rental kitchenette, storage is always a major factor. From pots and pans to cookbooks to savory spices to your extensive wine collection, there are a lot of essentials that need to fit into a culinary space, especially if you love to cook. While there are many obvious storage solutions — cabinets, pantry, and shelving, to name a few — one of the most overlooked is the kitchen island.
Sure, it's your midnight hangout for enjoying a late-night snack and scrolling through your Insta feed. But it can also be used for bonus kitchen storage. Whether you're looking for ways to hack your current hub, or your building an island from scratch, there are lots of clever design ideas that incorporate shelving, cubbies, drawers, cabinetry, and more. An island is also an ideal location to stash a microwave, stand mixer, waste bin, gadgets, glassware, a wine fridge, and even Fido's food and water bowls. It's all possible if you look at your island in a new way and get creative. Also, remember that under-island storage means you won't have to leave all your necessities out on the counter, taking up valuable space and resulting in unseemly clutter.
Now, it's time for the fun part. Scroll on for 14 unique kitchen island ideas that are begging to be considered, then shop baskets, bins, and other organization accessories from some of our favorite brands.
14 Storage Ideas to Organize Your Kitchen Island
1. Consider a cubby storage system.
For a built-in, space-saving design idea, look no further than a cubby (or two, or three). Kitchen island storage doesn't need to be fussy — a few simple cubes could be just what the doctor ordered. In this blue and white cook space crafted by the team at Kate Marker Interiors, the kitchen island features a marble waterfall countertop that frames blue cabinetry complete with drawers and a small cubby to hold books and other pint-sized objects.
Most useful for: Families with young kids — cubbies provide little ones with easy to access snacks, tiny toys, and school supplies kept neatly in boxes or baskets.
2. Install kitchen cabinets to store essential items.
Your kitchen island can be a wonderland of ample storage if you outfit it with tons of cabinets. Follow the lead of Amber Lewis from Amber Interiors and place them all the way around as seen in this airy cook space. Paint them a dreamy shade of gray and top with a white countertop to complete the look.
Most useful for: People who want to stash kitchen essentials away instead of viewing them in plain sight.
3. Keep everything in reach with open shelving.
If you cook frequently, it makes sense to keep your culinary essentials within reach. You can do just that with the help of kitchen island storage by adding open shelves for easy access. In this farmhouse setup belonging to Rachel of Shades of Blue Interiors, mixing bowls, cutting boards, and oft-used ingredients can be grabbed at a moment's notice.
Most useful for: Individuals who cook regularly and don't want to dig through cabinets for the must-haves they need mid meal prep.
Get the look: Threshold Essick Hook Rack, $22
4. Incorporate shelving, cubbies, and cabinets.
When you're working in a small kitchen, extra storage becomes very-important, meaning it's key to make the most of every bit of real estate. So why stop at just shelves or only cabinets when you can have it all? This means installing small cubbies, shelves, cabinets, and drawers in your island like Laura Burton Interiors did in this open concept kitchen. The result is practical as well as visually interesting.
Most useful for: Those who want to maximize every square inch of available storage space in their kitchens.
5. Plan for wine storage.
Your beloved vino collection shouldn't be hidden away in a dark cabinet or pantry. Instead, display it proudly in the kitchen island or bar. Follow the lead of this beach house designed by Charlie and Melissa of Wickenden Hutley, where bottles stand at the ready in a wine rack, complemented by a bonus shelf that sits overhead.
Most useful for: Wine enthusiasts who don't have the space or the budget to buy a fancy wine fridge or build an entire cellar.
6. Include a bookcase.
Despite having high-speed digital devices, any chef worth their salt wouldn't dare part with their favorite cookbooks. In this culinary space created by Sustainable Kitchens, a bookcase sits recessed in the island, showcasing a large collection of culinary tomes.
Most useful for: Gourmands who can't get enough of their cookbooks.
7. Utilize the entire length of the island.
An extra-long kitchen island can provide even more storage if you take a creative stance. In this cook space by R. Cartwright Design, a lengthy niche on one side of the island is a sleek way to stash and beautifully display ceramic plates and bowls. It fits snugly above the cabinets, maximizing the unusual, yet available space.
Most useful for: Homeowners with spacious kitchens and long islands.
8. Make room for glass canisters.
Glass canisters are all the rage these days, and they certainly look eye-pleasing when they're displayed in a pantry. But we think those dry ingredients are too pretty to hide, so here's a clever way to store them — at the end of a kitchen island or breakfast bar, kept secure with brass rods. It's a brilliant touch seen in this setup featured on SemiStories and perfected by Velinda Hellen Design.
Most useful for: Anyone who adores bulk ingredients and wants to keep them out in the open.
Get the look: The Container Store Hermetic Acrylic Canisters, $11.99 - $14.99
9. Create convenience with pull out cabinets.
Kitchen island cabinets can be surprisingly deep, which means your cooking must-haves can get buried in dark cupboards in a hurry. Make things even more convenient with pull out cabinets, something that Handan and Greg of The Navage Patch opted for in their kitchen.
Most useful for: Cooks who want to save time instead of rooting around in cupboards looking for cookie sheets and cutting boards.
Get the look: The Container Store Chrome Roll-Out Bakeware Organizer, $59.99
10. Showcase serving ware on shelving.
Plates, bowls, and other serving ware are typically stashed in kitchen cabinets. But for a visually appealing twist, why not spotlight your prettiest pieces on a shelf that resides at the end of your kitchen island? That's how Marian of Miss Mustard Seed displays her vintage best.
Most useful for: Those who love their beautiful serving ware and don't want to hide it away.
11. Add a butcher block with storage at the end of the island.
A butcher block top that acts as an amazing meal prep space? Check. Pull out drawers? Check. A spacious shelf underneath? Check. If you opt for a kitchen island setup like this one by Casey of The DIY Playbook, you'll have a practical place to prep meals and store items.
Most useful for: People who can't get enough of home improvement and multifunctional pieces to use in the kitchen.
When building a new island or purchasing a freestanding design for your kitchen, make sure it has a large lower shelf underneath, something that will permit you to display gorgeous baskets and conceal essentials. Cami of Tidbits shows us how it's done by showcasing oversize woven baskets on her DIY rolling work table.
Most useful for: Style aficionados who won't sacrifice aesthetics for good storage.
13. Make the most of deep drawers.
Use a deep drawer as a temporary storage area for getting mixing bowls or prep containers out of the way as you fill them and move on to another task. You can even place wire cooling racks within a drawer and crack the drawer open to allow baked goods to cool without taking up limited counter space.
14. Opt for a drop leaf.
Ever wish your kitchen island was just a foot or two wider? Consider adding a little extra space by buying or installing an island with an extension à la this setup by AGK Studio. This leaf can either fold up from the side of the island or pull out from underneath the countertop. Best of all, adding a fold-up leaf is a DIY-friendly project thanks to specialized folding brackets that screw into the island's frame and to the shelf of your choice.
Where to Shop for Kitchen Island Storage:
We've given you plenty of ideas for ways to eek out additional storage with the help of your island. Now it's time to equip those shelves and cubbies with some organizing must-haves.
This is, of course, the holy grail when it comes to organizational remedies. For your kitchen island storage, look to clear bins, organizers, and baskets and watch your cache of clutter disappear.
For classic kitchen island storage solutions, Williams Sonoma is always a home run. Check out the crocks, canisters, and caddies for a chic vibe that will fit in with any aesthetic.
Few retailers do kitchen essentials better than Food52. They have a multitude of stylish options that will fit in nearly any kitchen island nook or cranny.
Kitchen storage can add up in a hurry. Make the most of your hard-earned cash with the help of all the low-priced solutions that IKEA has to offer.
And speaking of budget-friendly options, Amazon offers a plethora of storage solutions with the added bonus of fast and easy shipping.