How To Choose Kitchen Islands And Carts


Kitchen islands and carts may be a mainstay of the home today, but it wasn't always that way. Long ago when Victorian kitchens were dark, dingy rooms relegated to the basement, finding an island in the center of the room was rare.

Walk into any kitchen today, on the other hand, and you be surprised not to see an island. This trend started in the 1950s when homes began to increasingly feature open floor plans. Now, whether it's used simply as an additional countertop, an eating area with stools or chairs, or more space for storage, a kitchen island is a must-have.

Here's how to choose kitchen islands and carts for your home

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What Are the Top Considerations When Choosing Kitchen Islands and Carts?

Size and Shape

Because kitchens are busy, fast-paced environments, the most important thing to keep in mind here is foot traffic. Generally speaking, you'll want between three and four feet of walking space between your island and all other furniture and walls.

If you plan to use the island for seating, factor in the added space a seated person would take up. Concerning adequate countertop space for each seat, you'll want to allow about two feet of width-space per person.

Shapes of kitchen islands and carts vary though you'll find most are rectangular or square. The main decision in shape will concern height. Generally speaking, the height should match that of the rest of your countertops. On the other hand, you might like one side of the island higher or lower than countertop height to accommodate seating on the other side of a workspace.

Small Gray Black Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Cart With Granite Top
Small White Pine Solid Wood Kitchen Cart
Large Stainless steel Oak Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Large Antique White Acacia Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Medium Oak Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Island Set
Stainless steel Oak Solid Manufactured Wood Multifunction Prep Table With Wood Top


Kitchen carts don't have to be connected to the floor and may even have wheels, but that doesn't mean they're all portable. If you'd like to be able to roll your cart into the dining area or elsewhere, however, this can be a useful feature for smaller kitchen carts. Rolling butcher blocks and teacarts, for example, are often used in this capacity.

White Solid Wood Kitchen Cart
Octagon American Maple Solid Wood Kitchen Cart Set
Black Manufactured Wood Butcher Block Kitchen Cart
Solid Manufactured Wood Rectangular Kitchen Cart
Birch Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Cart With Granite Top
Solid Manufactured Wood Rolling Kitchen Cart With Solid Wood Top
Black Prep Table With Butcher Block Top

Functional Features

Keep your needs in mind. What are your top activities in the kitchen besides cooking? Do you need a large area to roll out dough and decorate cakes and cookies? Would your kids be doing their homework there? Will the space be used for eating meals or party buffets?

Certainly, any additional work space is always going to be a plus, but you should also decide whether you'd like to use your island for anything besides countertop space. For example, it's common for an island to house a sink, chopping block, or a range and/or oven.

Rustic Antique Oak Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Island Set
Corsican Pine Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Black Large Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Island With Granite Top
White Rectangular Solid Wood Pine Kitchen Island With Granite Top
Light Gray Oak Asian Hardwood Kitchen Island
Black Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Island Set


One of the main advantages of a kitchen island or cart is the added storage it provides.

Gray Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Cart With Wood Top
Distress Chestnut Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Cart
Pine Wood Two Door Kitchen Cart With Granite Top
Asian Hardwood Kitchen Cart With Stainless Steel
Gray Stainless Steel Kitchen Island
Rectangular Mahogany Solid Manufactured Wood Prep Table

Worktop Material

Birch Poplar Solid Wood Kitchen Island
Solid Manufactured Wood Birch Rich Brown Kitchen Island
Metal Prep Table With White Marble Top
Honey Pine White Marble Solid Manufactured Wood Country Lodge Kitchen Island
Black Granite Wood Kitchen Island Set
Poplar Solid Manufactured Wood Kitchen Island Set
Rectangular Prep Table Stainless Steel
White Laminate Manufactured Wood Kitchen Cart Stainless Steel


Lastly, consider how much you're willing to spend. Keep in mind that built-in kitchen islands will be more expensive than separate pieces, such as tables or carts. The smaller your kitchen island, the less you'll have to spend as well.

If your budget is really tight, think about purchasing a piece of furniture such a sideboard, desk, or dresser and repurposing it as your island. You can even select something second-hand. Just be sure that the back of the piece is as presentable as the front. If the back is unfinished, you might add paint, tiles, or paneling.

Rectangular Solid Manufactured Wood Wine Storage Kitchen Cart With Wood Top
White Pine Wood Kitchen Cart
White Manufactured Wood Fluted Kitchen Island
Rectangular Solid Manufactured Wood Brushed Nickel Kitchen Cart
Matte Black Solid Manufactured Wood Stainless Steel Kitchen Island Set
Rectangular Pine Solid Wood Kitchen Island

FAQs About Kitchen Islands and Carts

1. Is a kitchen island a good idea?

2. Should I put a sink in my kitchen island?

3. Are kitchen islands still popular?

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Warm Honey Granite Wood Frame Kitchen Island
Country Brown Pine Manufactured Wood Microwave Kitchen Cart
Gray Pine Kitchen Island With Laminate Top
Solid Wood Nordic Blue Black Granite Kitchen Island With Granite Top
Brown Pine Solid Wood Kitchen Island

Best Tips for Choosing Kitchen Islands and Carts