Small Kitchen Island Ideas for Every Space and Budget

Small white and brown wood kitchen island
Malysheva Liudmyla / Shutterstock

A kitchen island is a useful and multifunctional component. No matter how small your space is, get inspiration from our kitchen island ideas for small spaces to add more function to your kitchen. Even the smallest kitchen island has the potential to offer many uses. When considering small kitchen island ideas, select an island that has the five following characteristics:

  1. Creates extra counter space
  2. Can be used as an eating counter or breakfast spot
  3. Has additional storage via drawers, shelves, or hooks
  4. Is sized correctly to not interrupt your kitchen workflow
  5. Has open shelving where knees can tuck or an overhang on at least one side for a low-profile, backless bar stool to tuck in

Once you’ve decided that you’d like to add a kitchen island, how large should your island be? According to the book The Architect’s Studio Companion: Rules of Thumb for Preliminary Design, allow an aisle of 36” wide or 42” wide if the island is facing an appliance door.

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Good places for islands include the center of a kitchen or to enclose an open floor plan kitchen in an L shape formation.

If you find that your kitchen doesn’t have the space for a permanent island, choose an island that can be rolled, tucked away, or moved to another area as needed. You don’t have to specifically go out and purchase or custom-make a kitchen island. There are a variety of small kitchen island ideas that may work better in your small space than a permanent cabinet piece. Check out some of our top kitchen island design tips, kitchen island ideas for small spaces, and images of kitchen islands.

Here’s our favorite small kitchen island ideas

A restaurant grade small kitchen island

Contemporary steel kitchen in converted industrial loft
Bertrand Benoit / Shutterstock

Pick up an industrial, commercial stainless work table. They’re lightweight yet sturdy, durable in stainless steel, come in a variety of sizes as narrow as 16,” and are fairly inexpensive.

For the most use, select one that has a towel bar for hooks and textiles and open shelving below. Locking wheels are helpful if you plan on moving your island often, although restaurant grade work tables are often lightweight enough to move without needing wheels.

A butcher block kitchen island

Kitchen island with butcher block counter top
Derek Brumby / Shutterstock

Think about some of the most attractive images of kitchen islands. Many of them have butcher blocks because a butcher block is a perfect island alternative. The surface is ready for kitchen use, and you can usually add a couple of stools to create a snack counter.

A repurposed furniture kitchen island

Country style kitchen with a sofa table used as an island
Mavo / Shutterstock

One of our favorite kitchen island ideas for small spaces is repurposing a furniture piece as an island.Sofa tables, for example, are designed to be narrow enough to sit behind a sofa or in an entryway. Available in a variety of sizes and styles and normally around 30” high, they make a good kitchen island option. Alternatively, recycle an old or vintage cabinet as an island. Look for ones that have plenty of shelving, drawers or other storage options.

The drop leaf kitchen island

Classic kitchen with island that folds to expand
Archi_Viz / Shutterstock

A smart way to add extra counter space to a kitchen involves the drop leaf. Pop it up when needed and drop down for ease of movement in a small kitchen.

If adding an island is not possible, take inspiration from the drop leaf island and add a drop leaf at the end of a kitchen cabinet or kitchen wall. The extra counter space could serve as an eating nook or extra prep area that can be stored when not in use.

A storable kitchen island

Rolling kitchen island stored at the side of the room
Jin Odin / Shutterstock

Is there an open spot where an island can be stored when not in use? One of the most efficient kitchen island ideas for small spaces is to design a kitchen island that will fit in the dimensions of an opening in your current kitchen. Better yet, if you’re designing a kitchen, include one cabinet piece that can roll out and be used as an island or extra counter space in a different spot.

A rolling kitchen island

Traditional style kitchen with marble floors and rolling island
C Woods Photography / Shutterstock

Regardless of the island you use, if you need the island to be mobile, adding high- quality wheels to one is an easy upgrade. Choose high-density polyurethane wheels that have a locking mechanism that keeps the island from moving.

Modern kitchen island

modern kitchen island ideas
JRP Studio/ Shutterstock

If your kitchen has a modern feel, keep that up with a modern kitchen island. It can be very minimal and consist of solely a sleek table in the middle of your small kitchen. You’ll really bring the space to life with modern lighting that hangs from the ceiling.

White kitchen island

white kitchen island ideas
Joe Hendrickson/ Shutterstock

When you’re looking at images of kitchen islands, a white island stands out. White helps open up a space, so if you’ve got a small kitchen that needs an island, keep it white to keep it bright! The bright white will help the island blend right into everything else in your kitchen rather than make it stick out and take up space.

Free-standing island with seating

kitchen island with seating
Artazum/ Shutterstock

A free-standing island with seating will give you a multifunctional piece of furniture in your kitchen. You can use it for counter space, but by adding some bar stools, you’ve turned it into your kitchen table and entertaining space.

Kitchen island with storage

storage kitchen island small idea
Andrey Sayfutdinov/ Shutterstock

Make the most of your minimal space by getting (or building) a kitchen island that has space built in. Use that space to store dishes or kitchen tools you don’t use often. Put them in some attractive baskets for an added touch of decor.

Accent kitchen island

Accent kitchen color island
David Papazian/ Shutterstock

One of the boldest kitchen island ideas for small spaces is to go the opposite of the white kitchen island by instead building an accent kitchen island in a bright color. This piece of furniture already stands alone in the middle of your kitchen, so why not jazz it up? You can either paint the island a bright color or put some fun, bright vases and decor on top.

Wine rack kitchen island

island wine rack small kitchen idea
Christian Jude Alexander/ Shutterstock

After digging through so many images of kitchen islands, this one is a favorite. Double the functionality of your kitchen island by either installing a wine rack in it or dressing up a wine rack as an island. This could go either way, depending on your space and your budget.

Split-level kitchen island

split level kitchen island idea
sirtravelalot/ Shutterstock

Add some sophistication with a split-level kitchen island that allows you to use one side as counter space and the other as a dining area. By having two levels, you’re able to distinguish two separate purposes for the island, which just adds a little more flair to your small kitchen.

The bottom line

accent kitchen island
Photographee.eu/ Shutterstock

Don’t feel too limited by your small kitchen. Even with a tiny space, you can still add a small kitchen island to add more function to your space. Try any one of our design tips and inspiration — or our images of kitchen islands — to add that little bit of extra pizzazz to your small kitchen. Who doesn’t love nice kitchens with an island?

Sean Jackson contributed to this post