Architectural Home Designs & Decorating Ideas

Squeeze More Storage into Small Spaces with Smart Kitchen Islands

6 minute read

If your small kitchen is cluttered with too little prep space and storage, it may feel impossible to cook comfortably. But in even the tiniest kitchen, a well-designed island can truly maximize function and workflow. With some clever planning around the perfect size, shape, seating, and storage solutions, that unused corner or tight squeeze along the wall can be transformed into the ultimate multi-purpose island.

An island not only adds storage and surface area, but the right design can improve accessibility, visibility, and traffic flow. No more bumping into each other or appliances while cooking and cleaning. By incorporating smart design elements tailored specifically for small spaces, your new kitchen island can take your tiny kitchen from chaotic to functional in no time.

Choosing the Perfect Island Size for Your Small Kitchen

When planning your new island, the first step is assessing your available floorspace. Take measurements of your total kitchen footprint as well as any existing islands or peninsulas. Be sure to account for traffic zones, allowing proper clearance for walking around the perimeter and opening appliances.

For a small kitchen under 150 square feet, a good guideline is for the island size to take up no more than 1/4 to 1/3 of the total floorspace. This allows enough room for seating and prep work without overwhelming the layout. Aim for an island around 32 – 42 inches wide and 16 – 18 inches deep for most small kitchens.

kitchen islands in small kitchens

Ideal Island Size for a Small Kitchen

When it comes to island dimensions for a tiny kitchen, focus on maximizing function in a footprint that maintains an open feel. Here are some recommended guidelines:

Strategic Island Placement Maximizes Workflow

Placement is just as important as size when designing your small kitchen island. Be sure to situate it in a spot that enhances workflow and functionality. Access and visibility are key – ideally you want to be able to access the island from all sides.

Consider placing your island near the sink or appliances where you prep and cook most often. Situate it below a window for natural light during meal prep. Ensure there is adequate clearance from walls, at least 42 – 48 inches on all sides. This includes room for seating. Also allow for at least 3 feet of walking space around the perimeter.

Island Placement for Better Function

When considering placement options, remember these tips:

Island Shapes That Maximize Function in a Small Kitchen

Picking the right island shape for your tiny kitchen is another key design choice. The shape impacts available workspace as well as overall aesthetic. A more rectangular shape tends to provide abundant usable counter space. Softer shapes like curved or rounded fronts minimize harsh corners in tight spaces.

Avoid large or complex shapes like circles, hexagons, or octagons that will dominate floorspace. Likewise steer clear of tiny islands that provide too little function. Find a happy medium that fits well with your layout.

Island Shapes for Small Kitchens

Here are some island shapes that work particularly well for small kitchens:

Smart Seating Solutions for Your Small Kitchen Island

One advantage of an island is the ability to incorporate seating, providing a casual dining spot or drink station. But barstool clearance can be tricky in a small kitchen. Some creative solutions allow you to add seating without gobbling up valuable real estate.

Standard barstools require a 16 – 18 inch overhang to tuck them under the counter. Swivel stools can maximize seating in a smaller footprint. Cutouts on the end of the island work well, serving double duty as legroom when seated. If space is extremely tight, opt for stand-up height instead of standard chairs.

Seating Tips for Small Kitchen Islands

When looking at seating options, consider these small-kitchen-friendly solutions:

Maximize Storage Solutions in a Small Kitchen Island

One of the biggest benefits of an island is the ability to incorporate storage and organization solutions. This can be challenging with a small island, but utilizing every inch efficiently can really increase usable space. Look for ways place cabinets, drawers, pull-outs, and shelves strategically. Use racks on the sides or top to take advantage of vertical storage as well. Get creative – a well-designed island can add as much organizational space as a wall of cabinets.

Smart Storage Strategies for Small Kitchen Islands

When designing your storage solutions, try these tips to maximize every inch:

The Benefits of a Portable Island in a Small Kitchen

For the ultimate versatility in a tiny kitchen, consider incorporating a portable island that can roll wherever it’s needed. Locking wheels allow you to reposition the island easily for different tasks or move it out of the way against a wall when not in use. This frees up valuable real estate when every inch counts.

A wheeled island provides flexible additional counter space right where you need it. When cooking solo you can place it near the stove. Then unlock the wheels and roll it out for seating during meals. Portable islands make it easy to customize your layout.

Why Add Wheels to a Small Kitchen Island?

Some key advantages of mobile islands for small kitchens include:

Maximize Island Uses in Your Small Kitchen

Well-designed islands act as a true workhorse in your kitchen. Look for ways to maximize functionality by incorporating multi-purpose elements into your island. For example, use one side as a breakfast bar and the other for food prep. Look for islands with drop-down leaves or extensions to increase the surface area. Built-in storage solutions add functionality. Locking wheels allow you to easily relocate the island, taking advantage of every inch of space when needed.

Consider these clever ways to get the most out of your small kitchen island:

By incorporating smart design tailored for small spaces, it’s amazing how even the tiniest kitchen can house a high-functioning island. With some strategic planning around placement, size, shape and storage, your new island can become the multi-purpose command station your small kitchen needs.