very day, working with a small kitchen is a battle of bumping elbows and questioning where to store the cheese grater. That’s why we’re focusing on kitchen islands—no matter how big or small they are—which can hold the key to adding storage and saving space, making your kitchen feel roomier than it is.
The tricks? Incorporating storage in unexpected spots and making the most of the space you do have. Think twice about what goes where, too. Pasta doesn’t have to be relegated to a pantry, and your fruit bowl doesn’t have to sit on top of the island. A little creativity goes a long way.
Scroll on for 20 of our favorite small kitchen island ideas that’ll have you inspired in no time.
Select a Slim Island
Think you need sizable square feet to have a kitchen island? Think again. This kitchen designed by Black Lacquer Design proves that wrong. Even a slim island—this one is, what, 18 inches wide?—will give you the workspace needed to whip up tonight’s dinner, as well as underneath storage and even space for a barstool to take on (yet another) Zoom call.
Choose Lowkey Barstools
To accompany this kitchen island, Prospect Refuge Studio chose backless bar stools with a slim profile so they can be completely tucked underneath the island, making it extra easy to walk around.
Slim barstools are a subtle design choice that makes a big difference when space is limited.
Marie Flanigan Interiors utilized everyone’s favorite types of shelving—open, of course—in this kitchen island, which would allow you to show off your prettiest of plates and other ceramics, and save your precious upper cabinet space for less sightly items. (Blender, we’re talking to you.)
Think Less Island, More Peninsula
If you don’t have room for an entire island, consider installing a peninsula, which will still give you countertop space to prepare dinner or enjoy your morning coffee without needing 360 degrees of walkaround square footage. Take notes from this PDG Studios kitchen, which did exactly that.
Wheel It Away
Who said kitchen islands have to be a permanent fixture? No one. As Rikki Synder captured here, a portable island on wheels can be just the trick when working with a tight kitchen. Simply roll it out of the way when you need the floor space, or lock it into place when you need extra prep space. The storage on the bottom is just a bonus.
Think of your kitchen island as a reflection of your priorities. If that is countertop space to prep large dinner parties, great. If it’s including bar stools so you can catch up with your family while bustling around the kitchen, go for it. And if it’s a wine or beverage fridge, we get you.
Installing one in your island saves space elsewhere, like your fridge, while keeping your best Riesling within close reach.
Be Strategic About Barstool Placement
If storage is a major priority to you, consider moving your bar stools to the short end of your island, like designer Michelle Lisac did here. While you may lose a bar stool—two would fit comfortably, but three would be tight—you gain a few feet of under-the-island drawer space
Dedicate the End of Your Island For Dry Storage
Containers of quinoa have never looked so beautiful. Velinda Hellen Design put the end of this kitchen island to work storing three rows of pantry goods, such as pasta, grains, and sugar. Stock up on oversized glass containers to recreate this look, allowing you to grab items easily and see what you’re running low on.
All those cookbooks you rarely crack open need to live somewhere, and a bookcase recessed in a kitchen island is the perfect place to display, shelfie style, your favorite Alison Roman books, pretty ceramics, and a few plants, just like this Interior Impressions-designed island does. Style and substance is a win/win
Put a Pegboard On It
Why didn’t we think of a pegboard kitchen island? Genius! Sustainable Kitchens gets the kudos for this island design, which sits on oversized industrial castors, making it mobile and making the kitchen more versatile for alternative layouts.
The back of the island—a giant pegboard—is the star of the show though, and a family-friendly spot to hang cleaning essentials, backpacks, and kiddo artwork. Once again, genius.