How to include an island in your small kitchen design

Small kitchen ideas

Think of a kitchen island and chances are you imagine a fantastic, large unit in the centre of a wide, open kitchen space.

Thankfully, modest-sized kitchens can enjoy the benefits of an island despite limited space – advantages like extra, inward-facing worktop space to prep food and social at the same time.

This guide will explain how small or unusually shaped kitchen designs can include an island, and turn your room into a beautiful, practical space for cooking and entertaining.

How to include an island in your small kitchen design

Adding space to an awkward layout

If you have low, sloping ceilings, it can be difficult to know how to lay out the entire kitchen, let alone how to incorporate a kitchen island, since a large part of the kitchen is encroached by tricky wall space.

Awkward layouts like this can be transformed to allow much more room by using a kitchen island as the central or only work top space. Along the walls, integrate cabinets, ovens and microwaves, creating a flat surface. This will leave greater floor space for a practical island.

Incorporate a small seating area for casual meals, a stove and sink, and ensure that the island you choose includes plenty of space for storage, maybe even a small fridge or freezer.

This might not be a small island, but by making it the main preparation and dining area in the room, you'll find you have much more floor space.

Small, square and practical

Small, square and practical

Typically, islands are rectangular, which offers the greatest amount of worktop and storage space in the centre of a large kitchen. However, square kitchen islands can be the ideal solution for a practical small kitchen.

The island should feature a central appliance in your kitchen – such as a stove top or sink – removing it from the wider worktop space in the room. Ideally, the island should also feature a small amount of worktop space for eating or food preparation, but this isn't essential if the size of the room won't allow it.

Small square islands can fit into a variety of kitchens that otherwise couldn't accommodate this extra luxury. They can also make the rest of the kitchen feel more spacious by freeing worktops from bulky but essential appliances.

Slim-line islands for extra prep space

Slim-line islands for extra prep space

Some kitchens, particularly L-shaped and galley kitchens, which comprise of long counters running parallel, can sometimes have an awkward amount of floor space – too small for a dining table, but too large to waste when worktop space is of the essence.

This is where a slim-line rectangular island can be helpful. Narrow and long, these islands are almost purely for cooking preparation and storage, rather than as a seating area.

Ensure you still have enough room to move around the kitchen and open drawers and appliances. If you do have enough space, your worktop area can be effectively doubled, providing you with extra counter at either side of the kitchen.

Consider a kitchen peninsula

Consider a kitchen peninsula

Islands and peninsulas are very similar; they both offer extra worktop and storage space, as well as providing a casual seating area. However, where islands typically use central floor space, a peninsula can be added to your kitchen design without interrupting the central flow of the room, thanks to being connected to a wall.

Peninsulas can be added to L or U-shaped kitchens, and can feature cupboards, drawers, dining areas and appliances such as stoves and sinks, opening the worktop space across the rest of the kitchen.

These work well for studio-style layouts where the kitchen meets the dining or living room, as it creates a natural barrier between the two areas, without blocking off light or creating dead floor space.

For small kitchens, a peninsula can be much more practical than a kitchen island, and can often be much bigger, as floor space and manoeuvring around the kitchen doesn't need to be as heavily considered.

Small kitchen owners shouldn't feel limited by their design choices. Find a kitchen island (or peninsula) that works for your space, and you might just be surprised how well it works.