Types of Kitchen Islands

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There are so many options when it comes to kitchen islands. And they are quite different from each other. 

The style and incorporated design of the island will determine the type of plumbing and electrical wiring done. You may need to run electrical wiring or plumbing into your island. So it’s good to be familiar with the different styles so you can choose what will work best for you.

Here are some styles of kitchen islands, all you need to know about them;

Rolling Cart Island

Rolling carts, also known as portable islands they are not permanently alongside your primary counters.

It is a fitting design for smaller kitchens when you need extra preparation or serving space.

Rolling cart islands are cost-effective compared to built-in islands and can be easily moved from the kitchen to the dining or living room for serving or into storage after use to create room for movement. Rolling cart islands offer under counter storage which can house pots and pans. Some even contain spaces to store bottles of wine.


  • can be used as a serving cart since it is portable and can be transferred easily to other rooms in your house.
  • They are small and they take up less space in the kitchen.
  • It is one of the cheapest options when working on a budget.


  • They usually have an open design, which means they rarely provide any additional storage.
  • Wheels may unlock, causing rolling.
  • The wheels might not work on slippery floors.

Rectangular Shaped Island

Could also be referred to as a galley kitchen island. It features a simple counter with cabinets which gives it added space for cooking and seating. it is a perfect design for relatively small kitchens as it uses as much storage space as possible with all the corners accessible. The negative aspect of this design is that they are not suitable for adding sinks or appliances.


  • Simple and straight-forward
  • Suitable for small kitchens


  • Sinks cannot be added to it

L-shaped Island

The L-shaped island has the l shape as the name suggests.

 L shaped islands are spacious for cooking, seating, and storage. The downside with the L shape in particular is one sharp corner that restricts access.


  • L-shaped kitchen islands are larger than other types of islands.
  • It gives additional storage space for your kitchen supplies. 
  • The large countertop space gives room for, bar-style seating also leaving you with plenty of cooking space.


  • Not suitable for open concept kitchens.
  • The large island may prevent you from maneuvering in your kitchen efficiently while cooking.
  • It takes up too much space and makes the kitchen feel closed-off.

Circular Kitchen Island

You’ll have a hard time finding many new homes incorporating a complete circular kitchen island design in the construction. A circular kitchen island adds elegance to a kitchen, but it also takes up a lot of space. They come with an abundance of preparation and serving space, as well as storage and seating.


  • It provides a lot of workspace for the preparation of food and plenty of space for bar-style seating.
  • It is perfect for hosting a lot of parties. You can turn it into a home bar and have plenty of space to prepare a good amount of drinks from simple green smoothie recipes to elaborate cocktails.


  • Lots of the additional space provided may be hard to reach and utilize due to the circular design. 
  • A lot of storage space goes to waste on the deep cabinets.

Double Island Kitchen

The double island kitchen comes with two or more islands. It adds a lot of elegance and functionality to the space. For one thing, it looks impressive when you have a separate area for in-kitchen, dining, and another for meal preparation. And it’s great for those who like to entertain or have large families.


  • Suitable for homes with large families and hosting parties.


  • Cramps up space if the layout is not large enough
  • It inhibits workflow since you need to walk around and in-between the island when cooking

Contrasting Kitchen Island

A kitchen with a contrasting island has different color designs incorporated into it. The color used for the cabinet of its island can be different from the color used for the main cabinets. This type of contrasting kitchen island design brings drama to the space. You have to consider how the colors will fit into the overall design of the room.

U-shaped Island

As the name implies the U-shaped island is shaped like the letter U. This type of island comes with a ridiculous amount of space and is functional. This design is perfect for kitchens that house multiple users at once and are suitable for making large meals or entertaining large groups.

These island designs are often fully functional and have lots of seating, storage, and working areas. This island design is not for everyone. For people who do not need this much space, it can be a hassle having to move from one side of the kitchen to the other and leaves a large surface area to clean.

This type is also expensive and takes a lot of room in the kitchen, which is not ideal for every kitchen design.


  • It provides additional counter space and bigger storage space.
  • It provides additional space for seating, cooking, and appliances.


  • It takes up a lot of space in the kitchen due to the size and can make it feel closed-off
  • It can be stressful to walk around the large island to get to the other side of the kitchen.

Kitchen Island Table (Furniture Style)

There are often items that you find that look perfect in a space. It could be an antique furniture piece that spoke to you or a family heirloom it can be incorporated into this type of island which adds immense character and intrigue to a kitchen.

These designs are usually small and open, allowing for light space in contrast to the typical bulkier island. Furniture-style island tables are not built for cooking since they do not possess very durable surfaces for wear and tear or the liquids used on a kitchen surface.


  • These are small and easy to move in and out of your kitchen.
  • They do not take up too much room and provides extra preparation space.
  • The decorative style adds personality to your kitchen and can make it feel more welcoming.


  • They are small, so they do not provide additional preparation space.
  • It does not provide additional storage as well.
  • The furniture top could wear out faster since they are not as durable as other island types.

Full Function Kitchen Island

A full-function kitchen island is a great luxury. This design contains the amenities needed in the kitchen like the electrical components, gas oven, running water even drainage.

Using those added amenities appliances and sinks can be added to the island, making room for a more functional space. It is more like having an additional kitchen, and it is great if multiple people intend to use the area all at once.


  • Practically doubles the size of the kitchen workspace
  • Great for multiple people


  • It is expensive to install.
  • Extremely difficult to remove if you decide you don’t want it.
  • Requires lots of space and work to be completed.

Sink Island

A sink, like an Acrylic Kitchen sink, is another amenity that is extremely useful in the kitchen island. It does require adding plumbing to the island, which comes with an added cost.

The sink kitchen island design is commonly accompanied by a low water pressure dishwasher next to it, which is about 24 inches but still features a usable counter space. The island needs to be large to accommodate the mentioned items.

Cooktop Island

A cooktop island can be included in a fully functional kitchen island, as it requires power or gas lines to run, depending on the type of cooking top you have. Typically the cooktop itself is 30 inches to 36 inches so it takes up a significant amount of space.

Two-Tired Breakfast Bar

This type of island has two different heights, the shorter one for cooking and the taller for the seating.

This design protects the people sitting at the counter from accidentally coming into contact with the hot surface. It is also great for ergonomics(efficiency in the working environment) as the ideal cooking and bar height is different. Unfortunately, this takes part of the cooking space, since the part of the counter that is raised is not used for cooking.


  • This design gives you a highly functional kitchen.


  • The space division can make it  a bit inconvenient
  • It could leave the adjacent part of the kitchen cut off.

Most islands mentioned above can include dining. By extending the side of the countertop to accommodate stools or chairs to create a seating space. Space should be left between the island and main cabinets to prevent the chairs from interfering in your path.

Brett E.

Brett E. is the Owner of BarterDesign.co.  Brett comes from a long line of craftsman and foreman, and has been involved with the construction and renovation world ever since he was a boy while working for his families construction and remodeling company.  After graduating with a a degree in Interior Design, Brett is the go to guy for any interior design or remodeling questions!