If you are planning a kitchen remodel, it may seem like an island is an essential part of every kitchen layout.  Look at Pinterest or Houzz, and nearly every kitchen design will incorporate some kind of island: big, small, two-tiered, and sometimes even more than one island!  What if your kitchen design is not big enough for a kitchen island, or maybe an island is just not your style?

Islands are a common element of most kitchen designs, particularly open plan kitchens where they help to separate different work, dining, and entertainment zones.  While they are a go-to item for many remodeling projects, they are not the only solution to your kitchen layout dilemmas.  First, we will explore the reasons why you may not want to include an island, and then look at alternative options for an island free kitchen design.

white kitchen design

Why would you NOT include a kitchen island?

1. My kitchen is just too narrow/small/odd shaped.

This is probably the most common reason why you would not include an island in your kitchen remodel.  If your kitchen is narrow or small, there may not be space for an island.  Your available space should be about 10 feet wide by 12 feet long at a minimum to fit an island, or else it will overwhelm your room.  Likewise, if your kitchen is odd shaped, you may find an island does not easily fit into your kitchen design.

waterfall edge countertop

2. I could fit an island, but it might create a bottleneck.

You may find that a kitchen island just doesn’t work with your space.  Your kitchen design expert will help you examine the footprint of your kitchen, including the shape of the room, where the plumbing is situated, the location of windows and other features. If including an island will block key work areas like the refrigerator, sink, or stove, then adding an island will create more problems than it will solve.  You may be better off maximizing the utility of your perimeter kitchen cabinets and countertop instead.

3. We don’t like an open plan kitchen layout.

Open plan kitchen designs have been all the rage for years now, but they are not for everyone.  If you prefer an enclosed kitchen that is separated from the dining and living areas, then an island may not be as important to the functioning of your kitchen.

4. It’s just not my style.

Or, maybe a kitchen island is just not for you.  Perhaps you really want to leave open the floor space so you can hold a salsa dancing party in your kitchen.  Just because they are popular in kitchen design, does not mean they are right for you.  The island is a convenient way to add storage and work space, but if it doesn’t fit your style there are other ways of meeting these requirements.

kitchen design with wood flooring

What are your options for an island-free kitchen design?

1. A peninsula that separates the kitchen and entertainment areas.

Do you have a kitchen that is open to a dining or living space, but do not want to include an island?  A peninsula could just as easily do the job of an island without taking up as much space.  Use a small peninsula to create more storage and counterspace, and to create a dividing point between the kitchen and other spaces.

kitchen design with peninsula

2. A peninsula with space for casual dining.

An island also offers extra seating in the kitchen, a breakfast bar, and a place for a glass of wine or casual dining.  If an island is not in your kitchen remodeling plans, you can take the peninsula one step further and include barstool seating.  Create a seating area on the far side of your peninsula or add a round tabletop end, perfect for an intimate dinner.

kitchen design with barstools

3. Extra perimeter cabinet storage or a stylish hutch.

Make up for the storage you lose in not having an island by maximizing every square inch of perimeter storage.  Include customized storage accessories, add extra cabinets beyond the main area of the kitchen, or install a custom hutch or beverage bar.  Your kitchen design professional can help you find clever storage solutions to get the most out of your available space.

kitchen design with hutch

4. A rolling island that can be stored away and brought out when required.

If you like the idea of a kitchen island but just don’t have the space, consider getting a rolling island.  This mobile cart could be storage away in a corner of your kitchen or in another room, and only brought out when you need a bit of extra work space.  Is it time to bake cookies for the school bake sale?   Are you preparing Thanksgiving dinner?  Bring out the rolling island when you need it and then put it away to save space.

Islands are a stylish and useful feature of many kitchen designs, but an island is not the only answer to your kitchen storage and workspace needs. If you find an island does not fit your space or your style, check out our kitchen design gallery for island-free design inspiration, or contact us to get started on your remodeling project.