Which kitchen island is best?
If you’re looking for a way to expand your counter space or want to add seating in a compact area, a kitchen island can’t be beat. These versatile pieces of kitchen furniture allow you to expand and extend your culinary activities beyond the limits of your built-in counters. Some kitchen islands come with additional storage and drawers for overflow utensils, flatware and kitchen appliances.
For a neutral kitchen island that’s mobile and has ample extra storage with a large workspace, the Winsome Wood Drop-Leaf Kitchen Cart is a great choice.
What to know before you buy a kitchen island
Wheeled vs. stationary
The first big decision to make is whether or not you want your kitchen island to be stationary or on wheels. Stationary kitchen islands tend to be larger and become more of a permanent fixture in a particular spot in your kitchen. On the other hand, wheeled kitchen islands can be moved around as needed and can even function as additional serving space or a drinks cart when entertaining.
When considering materials, you have options for both the countertop and the base. Common countertop materials are wood, natural stone and metal.
Wood is a classic choice, and most kitchen islands use hardwoods like oak, maple or cherry. The top might be a single slab, or it might be a butcher block piece that’s glued together. If you choose a butcher block countertop, make sure the seams are completely sealed. One of the best parts about wood countertops is that you can safely cut directly on them. However, even with the ability to cut directly on a wood counter, some people opt to use cutting boards. This preserves the surface and keeps it free from potential bacteria from food debris.
Natural stone tops made of granite, marble or slate are sophisticated and virtually maintenance-free. These types of countertops excel at culinary tasks where temperature is important (i.e., pastry and chocolate work). The major downside, however, is that these types of countertops can easily nick your kitchen knives. You’ll need to use a cutting board to keep them sharp.
For a more industrial look and feel, metal counters made from heavy-gauge stainless steel are a good option. These are the countertops of choice in commercial kitchens, and for good reason. Metal countertops are nearly indestructible, you can cut directly on them and they’re easy to care for.
The base of your island is another opportunity to bring some design flair into the kitchen. Once again, wood is a common material, but solid wood can be heavy. Some manufacturers use a mixture of wood and medium-density fiberboard, which helps keep things light.
You can also find kitchen islands with a metal base. These tend to be sleeker and more minimalistic, and they’re most at home in a modern or industrial style kitchen.
The size of your kitchen island refers not only to the size of the whole piece but also the size of the work surface. If you need lots of space but not all the time, look for a kitchen island with extendable leaf sides. This allows you to expand whenever you need more work space.
What to look for in a quality kitchen island
Since you’re already considering a kitchen island for some additional work surface, it makes sense to capitalize and choose one with extra storage underneath. This might be something as simple as a few shelves, or you might opt for an enclosed cabinet.
Another excellent storage option is a drawer for extra utensils or flatware. You can also use a drawer in a kitchen island for specialized tasks. For example, if you only use your marble top kitchen island for chocolate work, store all your tools in the drawer for easy access.
A towel rack keeps this essential piece of equipment handy when you need it. You can never have enough hand towels in the kitchen.
A nice extra feature for oenophiles is a wine rack. This allows you to keep your favorite vintages within arm’s reach.
How much you can expect to spend on a kitchen island
Kitchen island prices range from basic models at $60 to full-on large pieces of furniture that can be $2,000 or more.
Kitchen island FAQ
Can wheels be added to a stationary kitchen island?
A. In some cases, yes. It really depends on the type of base you have. A kitchen island with an MDF base may be too flimsy to add wheels, but solid wood bases can often take the drilling that’s necessary to add wheels.
Can you use an outdoor kitchen island inside?
A. Yes. Some kitchen islands designed to be used outside work very well inside. Because they’re designed to withstand the elements, they might even hold up better than indoor kitchen islands.
What are the best kitchen islands to buy?
Top kitchen island
What you need to know: The warm beechwood of this kitchen island fits a wide variety of kitchen styles.
What you’ll love: This island has two drop leafs to extend the counter surface from 25 inches to 45 inches. It’s on wheels, so you can move it where you need it. It features a cabinet with a door, plus a drawer and a shelf.
What you should consider: Assembly of this can be very challenging; it’s easier with two people.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Top kitchen island for money
What you need to know: The granite countertop brings a luxurious feel to an otherwise affordable piece.
What you’ll love: It has a wire storage basket, storage for four bottles of wine and a drawer. It’s small but sturdy and can hold a toaster oven or microwave. The caster wheels are smooth-rolling but lock for safety.
What you should consider: The granite countertop is only held by two wooden dowels.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
Worth checking out
What you need to know: If you need a more substantial statement piece, this is the island for you.
What you’ll love: This stationary kitchen island features 50 inches of workspace and generous storage behind double doors. It features a drop-leaf breakfast bar and an oak top. The base of the island is white-painted oak, and it has shelves cut out of the sides for storage. There are two shelves behind the doors.
What you should consider: This is heavy and has a very traditional style that may not go with more modern or industrial kitchen styles.
Where to buy: Sold by Amazon
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Suzannah Kolbeck writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.
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