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Kitchen Islands

If kitchens are the heart of the home, then kitchen islands are the heart of the kitchen

The concept of adding a kitchen island to create more storage and working space is the best concept since sliced bread. Speaking of sliced bread, many homeowners use their kitchen island as a baking center. What a great place to store your bread machine, measuring cups and spoons, cookie sheets, and all those spices.

What the water cooler is at work the kitchen island is at home. Kitchen islands are the gathering hub of every great party; the perfect place to converse and share appetizers. The host doesn’t miss out on any of the fun while at the same time he or she is able to work freely in the kitchen preparing the meal.

All things great start with a dream. Kitchen islands are a great way to add decorative interest and add your own special touch of creativity. The only roadblocks to your kitchen island dreams are (A) budget limitations, and (B) space constraints, other than that sky’s the limit.

Kitchen islands come in all shapes and sizes. They can be installed, free standing, or on casters. They can be round, square, oblong, rectangular, and wedge shaped. If your kitchen is large enough you can have multiple kitchen islands. You can opt for a single surface or tiered surface. Open shelving or cabinet doors.

Mapping out your kitchen island

Once you determine the shape and size of your kitchen island you’ll need to determine its main function. What features would you like in your island? Some may include:

Seating area - casual dining, homework, breakfast bar

Flat top surface or tiered level counter - a flat top surface is ideal for prep work, cleaning, chopping, etc. A raised level provides a comfortable seating area while blocking kitchen messes from view. If you have a sink or range in the island the raised level also shields from splatters and spatters.

Sinks - this can be your main sink or a secondary sink. Sinks are very popular in kitchen islands – it allows the cook to enjoy his guests and clean up at the same time.

Dishwashers - if you’re going to plumb for a sink you may as well have a dishwasher installed while you’re at it. This will ensure even more quality time with your guests. It sure beats looking at the wall or out the window, eh?

Ranges - if you include a range you’ll need to consider whether you’d prefer a down draft venting system or a hood that vents through the ceiling. A hood can make a dramatic statement in your kitchen however if you’re considering a pots & pan rack over the island or you just want open space, then getting a range with a down draft is the answer.

Ovens - this can be your primary oven or a secondary oven. Having two ovens really comes in handy during the holidays for cooking appetizers and casseroles.

Power - you may not include any major appliances in your island scheme however you should seriously consider adding power. Outlets will really come in handy to plug in toasters, blenders, etc.

Lighting – don’t forget your lighting. You’ll need direct overhead lighting on your kitchen island if you’re going to use your island for food preparation – indirect lighting just won’t cut it.

Some of the features you may want to include in your kitchen island are:

  • Oven warming drawers
  • Trash compactor or recycle bin
  • Microwave
  • Storage
  • Open shelving
  • Wine rack
  • Wine cooler
  • Bar sinks
  • Deep fryers
  • Special racks for seasonings
  • Butcher block top

Check out our extensive gallery of kitchen island photos.

Usually acting as an addition to the L-shaped layout, kitchen islands can add storage and counter space while giving friends and family an extra gathering spot. If you’re looking for a new kitchen island, we’ve got the facts to get you started.


When it comes to cost, kitchen islands run the gamut. Do you want a free-standing island that you can take with you when you move? Or are you looking to install a custom-built kitchen island? The latter will cost significantly more. In addition, the price depends largely on the material used, the size of the island, and the cost of labor. For more specific cost estimates, speak with a licensed kitchen contractor in your area.


Kitchen islands can provide a large amount of additional storage space.

They can serve as a seating are for guests with the addition of chairs or stools. See our kitchen island bar pictures for ideas.

Kitchen islands can be custom-made to include extra counter space and stovetop burners.


The addition of a kitchen island can eat away at your available space, making it feel cramped and cluttered.

Installed kitchen islands can be costly and cannot be removed once homeowners decide to move.


Common Questions and Answers

What is the standard height for a kitchen island countertop?

While 42” is standard for a bar top, 36” inches is good if you’re looking to add stools (24” stools would suffice).

How much space is needed to install a kitchen island?

In order to ensure that the rest of your kitchen appliances and countertop space is easily accessible, make sure to allow at least 3 feet between the island and any adjacent wall, cabinet or appliance.


Kitchen islands first began growing in popularity in the 1970s, when the size of the average kitchen grew substantially.

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