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.
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.
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.
One of the main advantages of a kitchen island or cart is the added storage it provides.
- Open shelving or shelving behind glass doors can make the perfect place to store decorative items. Whether these items are also functional in your kitchen is optional.
- If you plan to store functional but unattractive items within your island (think toasters, blenders, and other appliances), consider opting for storage with drawers and/or cupboard doors so that you can close away these items and have a cleaner look.
If your budget permits, maintain decor consistency by choosing the same worktop material as the rest of your countertops.
Alternatively, some homeowners opt to cover their entire island with butcher's block wood (usually teak, walnut, birch, or hard maple).
If you're using a separate island cart or furniture piece, you can either leave the top as-is or have a piece of marble or granite installed on top.
No matter what you choose, it's a good idea to seal whatever material you have on your island as it will inevitably be dirtied during food prep.
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.