When daydreaming about the best kitchen island ideas for small kitchens, chances are your limited square footage doesn't even cross your mind. You likely conjure images of a food prep center, a chic breakfast spot, and even a homework hub. After all, kitchen islands are meant to be as functional as they are stylish. And after decades of being popularized by designers as well as celebrity chefs, they're here to stay.
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For those of us in tight spaces, however, those island desires might seem futile, especially when every part of the room should not only feel useful but also be useful. Don't give up on your fantasies just yet, though. It's possible to create a convenient island even in a confined space or rental. And we're going to show you how.
These kitchen island ideas for small kitchens embrace form and function, fit well into the room, and often serve dual purposes. Feel free to use them as inspiration.
1. Divide and conquer.
Open concept floor plans are still living their best life in modern kitchen design. So to create a bit of division in your space, consider adding a kitchen island to the layout. The addition can create a hallway to help with home navigation. Plus, it will provide two unique spaces — one for cooking and dining and another for catching keys and corralling mail.
Get the look: West Elm Alden Wood Counter Stool, $219
2. Play with texture.
Even in crisp white kitchens, there's always room for a little texture or rustic wood. This black and white beauty, for example, complete with a stainless steel hood, is polished and clean. But the center island in a neutral, unfinished wood gives the room a bit of kitchen hygge.
Get the look: Home Depot Bamboo Kitchen Cart with Wine Rack, $62.03
3. Fuse functionality.
When you live in tight quarters, functionality is key. And the same principle applies to kitchen island ideas for small kitchens. Enter butcher block. Finding a wood island, or even embarking on a DIY island journey will give you a handy food prep space. Plus, it'll give you the perfect amount of farmhouse vibes.
Get the look: John Boos & Co Butcher Block Top Workbench, $378.99
4. Put it on wheels.
Don't underestimate the power of wheels, especially when you're short on space. A small industrial kitchen island, for example, can move around the room and have multiple uses. Roll it to the center of the room for dinner prep or glide it to the wall to serve as a coffee station. You can even move the island into a different room to use as a bar cart. If it's on wheels, the options are limitless. To get this retro-inspired look, paint the cabinets a vibrant color and drape with your most unique towel.
Get the look: Andover Mills Wide Rolling Kitchen Cart, $249.99
5. Go bold.
Adding a punchy color to a kitchen island will bring interest to your small space. Plus, it's inexpensive. Think of your small kitchen island as a large piece of statement art. And if you're going to make a statement, go big or go home. Navy kitchens, for example, are all the rage among designers like Kristin Jackson of Hunted Interior. She chose a bold blue for this island, and it works.
6. Incorporate storage.
There are many kitchen island ideas for small kitchens that incorporate storage. But this slate gray island, designed by Steve McKenzie, conceals more than you might expect. McKenzie chose 13" wall-depth cabinets against 24" base-depth cabinets to cut down on the width while creating ample space for seven sets of dishes. Talk about a smart and modern storage solution.
Get the look: Three Posts Hardiman Kitchen Cart, $479.99
7. Expand dining options.
Adding barstools to an island instantly amps up the small space seating, but why not sub a dining room table for a traditional bar-height island? Follow this designer's lead and use a farmhouse table with Louis XVI chairs for your own small kitchen island. Plus, parties always gravitate toward the kitchen anyway. Just host your friends there from the start.
Get the look: West Elm Briggs Expandable Dining Table, $629.99
8. Lean in.
Lean into your kitchen's aesthetic whenever possible. So if you have a contemporary home, go for a little contrast when picking kitchen decor. In this small kitchen, for example, the island seating is boho even though everything else has a bit of farmhouse glam. But, the black accents of these barstools complement the dark light fixture and polished look of the entire space.
Get the look: CB2 Cesta Rattan Counter Stool, $349
9. Mix in marble.
While there are pros and cons to marble countertops, they are undeniably beautiful. In spatially-challenged rooms, in particular, a white marble island can add an airiness that other surfaces like wood can't always deliver. To immediately brighten your small kitchen, opt for a petite island with Carrara marble on top.
Get the look: Birchlane Echevarria Prep Table Marble, $1,213
10. Match the room.
If you have a small kitchen with more length than width, find an island that mimics that narrow shape. Take this slim version from Heidi Caillier's Pacific Northwest Tudor design. And as a bonus, you'll always want to keep an island as charming as this one free from clutter and kitchen appliances.
Get the look: Burke Decor Scout Auburn Mango Bar/Counter Table, $1,199
11. Think sleek.
When it comes to kitchen island ideas for small kitchens, size does matter. That's why we are smitten with this narrow island design by Bria Hammel Interiors. The chic installation gives the homeowners additional counter space and a spot to sit without compromising the floor plan. Check out those drawers on the front too. We spy island storage!
Get the look: West Elm Frame Kitchen Console, $1,399
12. Raise the bar.
One of the best ways to make use of a kitchen island in a small kitchen is to add seating. The design team at GordonDunning used a tall farmhouse table to give these homeowners just that. The charming furniture piece also feels light in the space, which is great for feng shui. When looking for unique seating, you have a few options. Vintage stores can offer one-of-a-kind pieces, though sometimes not entire sets, or, if you'd rather stick to shopping online, you could select a color and narrow your options from there. And if you can't find the right style in your dream color, there's always paint.
Get the look: Royal Design Wood Windsor Chair, Turquoise, $112