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Seven Fantastic Uses for a Kitchen Island

Posted on November 26 2015

Do you love to entertain? Are you always in the kitchen? Is you kitchen your happy place?  If you answered yes to any of these then you are probably ready to consider a kitchen island for your next remodel or kitchen update.  

Kitchen islands come in many shapes, sizes and configurations.  Some are mobile, and lightweight, made from a combination of stainless steel and wood, and some are permanent fixtures extending your counters into the middle of the room.  Both versions have their pros and cons and it’s worth discussing what you most need from your space.   Below we have detailed some the best uses and reasons for a kitchen island. 

1) Convertible Kitchen Dining Area

An island designed to accommodate seating on one side is the perfect way to host a few diners while you work at the sink or stove.  Do your children come home to do homework and need your attention? An island seating area will allow you to be hands-on with your cooking while also being one-on-one with the kids.  Snacks get lined up next to homework and you get dinner ready, all at once.  An island is still part of the kitchen, but provides a designated separate area to entertain, or gather family or friends informally, when a larger dining table is not required.John Boos Rustica Cherry Table

Example of table and island combo, the John Boos Cherry Rustica Island

2) Party Central and Gathering Area

Let’s face it, no matter how much time you spend cleaning your house before a party, your guests will spend all their time huddled in the kitchen. It’s a silent party rule that states all guests must maximize fun by chattering away around the prep area.  So why not make the most of it with a party central kitchen island?  If you’ve picked an island with a wood butcher-block top your workspace for cutting and prepping foods can be washed and sanitized and turned into a charcuterie board for party time.  Have you picked an alternative material? That’s ok too, swing it into action as your bar, with glasses lined up and ready for guests to serve themselves (since they won’t be leaving the kitchen anyway).John Boos Chef's Block

This Boos Chef's Block is guaranteed to draw guests

3) Adding Workspace Flexibility

Imagine you’ve harvested a bumper crop of cucumbers from your victory garden and are planning to make a batch of homemade pickles.  How’s the area around your stove? Crowded?  Instead of navigating across the kitchen, an island provides you with arms reach workspace, so that major cooking tasks become manageable.  In addition, a rolling island could be brought closer to your task, allowing you a growing counter top of sorts.

John Boos Pro Prep Block Cherry Island

John Boos Pro Prep Block with cherry block top and casters

4) Design Shift

There is probably no better way to add a conversation piece to your kitchen, than with a unique kitchen island.  You can do as little as having the lower portions of the island painted a bright or complimentary color, differentiating from the rest of your space, or you can mix up your island’s top surface. For example, if you have a marble or granite counter system in your kitchen, consider adding a butcher-block top to your island. Visitors will undoubtedly take note of a bold island space in your home and it can help set your kitchen apart from the more mainstream designs readily found in newer built abodes.

John Boos Walnut Calais Island in Red

If you want to make a statement, red is always a fine choice.

5) Mobile Desk and Table

If your house or apartment is lacking in office space, an island office could be in order. Not only can you transition from day use office to night use party prep by simply packing away your laptop, you’ll also keep your counters and dining table free of paper clutter, bills and more, and stay focused in one area.  In addition, an island workspace can allow you to work standing up, or seated at a high stool, keeping good posture in mind.  If your kitchen has good light, which many kitchens do, this further compliments your working environment. Food writers will tell you they do most of their research and writing in the kitchen, and it makes sense, because that’s where the action is.  Busy moms may agree, as sometimes a separate office doesn’t allow them to work and keep an eye on the kids.

An island doesn’t always have to be center stage. Many islands are actually mobile, equipped with wheels that allow you to transition from one end of the kitchen to the next.  If your office isn’t ready for shut down come party time, simply roll it to one side, or an adjoining room or hall, while the party happens.

John Boos Grazzi Kitchen Table with Folding Top


This Grazzi island can extend out for a party or impromptu meeting table


6) Increased Footprint

There is no doubt that the foodie in you is screaming to get out, especially when you entertain.  A kitchen island will increase the footprint of your workable space by creating more countertop space.  Sometimes kitchens are awkwardly laid out, with appliances and sharp architectural details using up more counter space than you might want. An island is the perfect solution to this, extending your counter into the middle of the room, and free from overhanging cabinets and bulky items like microwaves and toasters.

Small apartment kitchens are often entirely lacking counter space.  A sturdy mobile island that doubles as storage can be rolled out of the way when room is needed, or brought center stage when it’s time to get cooking. Even a small and more permanent island will help create space in your kitchen.

John Boos Jasmine Island

The Jasmine Island adds prep area, towel rack, dish and utensil storage in one

7) Kitchen Storage

In a small kitchen, the right island can be a lifesaver!  If your surface area allowance is small (some New York apartments average 24 square feet of kitchen), you can pick an island that is both a workstation on top, and a storage master below decks. It is essential that function rule when picking an island for a small space. Look for options with lots of flexibility for storage, for example pot hanging hooks, shelves for baskets and even a knife caddy attached, and don’t waste space on a design heavy countertop, instead opt for a workhorse wooden block top made of maple or a similar hardwood. In a small kitchen this space will become the heart of your cooking operation.

Whatever your reasons for picking an island, you will find that they most often serve double duty for the home cook, and in the busy world we all live in today, there is nothing wrong with that.

John Boos Cucina Premo Island

The John Boos Cucina Premo is the ultimate in space savers

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