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Kitchen Islands – Solving Your Common Kitchen Problems

Big, beautiful, fully-equipped kitchen islands are probably the single biggest trending item in 2013 kitchen design. They’ve been gaining in popularity for years, but if you’re planning a kitchen remodel for the coming year, a kitchen island is virtually a must-have. But there are all kinds of kitchen islands out there, from big custom builds to tiny island carts. So even if you’re anxious to get in on the trend, it’s important to consider what kind of kitchen island is best suited to your needs.

Are You Short On Storage?

Jeffrey Alexander Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources
Jeffrey Alexander Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources

I’m personally plagued with a small kitchen that’s made worse by impressively badly designed cabinetry – but I think that’s a feeling that a lot of people have. If it sounds familiar, you probably want to look for a kitchen island that’s something like this Jeffrey Alexander Island from Hardware Resources. This particular one is one-sided, though you can find larger models with cabinetry on both sides, but what’s important is that it offers two full sized drawers, a cabinet with an adjustable shelf, and open sides with four more adjustable spice-rack style shelves, packing as much storage as possible into a relatively small kitchen island.

Compact Open Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources
Compact Open Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources

Open kitchen islands like this Compact Island are great for storage as well, but have a very different visual appeal. With a few extra brackets installed on the under side, you could easily use this kitchen island to hang and display all your pots and pans without having them dangling down over your head. Or, if you’re one of the rare few that’s 100% satisfied with your kitchen cabinetry, having an open kitchen island like this one offers more work space while keeping your kitchen space from seeming crowded.

Do You Need More Seating?

Table Style Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources
Table Style Kitchen Island From Hardware Resources

Open kitchen islands are also a great way to add additional seating when you need it. While most storage-rich kitchen islands don’t leave a whole lot of leg room, open kitchen islands are more table-like in style, sacrificing a little in the way of storage to make your kitchen more accessible for dining. There’s even enough room underneath something like this Table Style Island that you can stow a few bar stools when you aren’t using them, giving you more seating when you need it and more floor space when you don’t. While some custom made kitchen islands offer a more complex blend of seating and storage, they’re also often much larger, so be sure to take the size of your kitchen into consideration before choosing between the two.

Browse Kitchen Islands from Hardware Resources:

Are You Looking For An Alternate Prep Station?

Iron Occasions Kitchen Island From Kohler
Iron Occasions Kitchen Island From Kohler

Depending on how extensive a prep station you want, this is actually the most difficult type of kitchen island to build, even if you buy pre-made. While many of the kitchen islands I’ve mentioned here have build in maple or birch butcher blocks that are like one great big cutting board, if you want a built in sink, or any type of appliance, from range to cook top to wine cooler, you’ll have to run plumbing, electricity, and gas to wherever you plan to put the island. That said, this Iron Occasions Island from Kohler is a nice option for a modern kitchen, with an enameled cast iron counter and integrated trough-style sink, so any mess wipes away into the sink easily. Plus, it comes with additional cutting boards you can place directly onto the sink to further streamline your prep. The best part? It comes with a stainless steel cover to hide all the unsightly plumbing while leaving plenty of open space.

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Need More Space In A Small Kitchen?

Chefhaus 24 Inch Kitchen Island Work Station from Whitehaus
Chefhaus 24 Inch Kitchen Island Work Station from Whitehaus

While we mostly think of kitchen islands as being an addition for a big, luxury kitchen, smaller kitchen islands, or kitchen island carts, are actually a perfect solution for a small kitchen without quite enough counter space. Something like this Chefhaus from Whitehaus can fit fairly inconspicuously in the center of a small, square kitchen, or at the end of a line of counter tops, and offers an excellent work space and stuff space.

RSVP Kitchen Island Cart From Kaco
RSVP Kitchen Island Cart From Kaco

Some models, like this lovely cherry RSVP Table from Kaco, even come with built in drawers for a little extra storage, or built in butcher blocks for a separate, easy to clean prep or serving space. I personally prefer ones with small, locking wheels so you can move them easily, but ones with castors can still be moved with a little more effort, and have a more finished, permanent look to them.

Browse Kitchen Islands from Kohler:

Kitchen island come in a wide variety of sizes, shapes, and styles. So while installing one is an excellent way to keep your kitchen on trend, it’s important to consider what you want your kitchen island to do and how you intend to use it, and be sure to buy accordingly. What do you want out of a kitchen island? Are you more interested in storage, seating, prep area, or some combination of the three?