5 genius 'extras' to include on your kitchen island – the new game-changers for how you use your kitchen everyday

You'll often find a hob or a sink on a kitchen island - but these alternative ideas add extra value to the heart of your space

a kitchen island in a modern home
(Image credit: Jared Kuzia. Design: Sashya Thind)

One of the joys of saving for a kitchen remodel is having the funds to invest in those little added extras that really make a space. Yes, you're core concerns might be the layout, how much storage there is, the color – but there's a magic in the possibilities that go beyond the basics. 

These unique and interesting elements are what will, ultimately, set your kitchen apart, and change the day-to-day of how you use the space, and incorporating them into your kitchen island is a great way to make them at the heart of your room. 

Let's be honest, these might be the features most likely to get the chop if the budget starts to run over – but these 5 ideas might just end up being your favorite design details if you do commit. 

1. Fridge drawers

vegetable drawers in a kitchen island

(Image credit: Dasha Armstrong. Design: Jenny Martin Design)

Any kitchen storage that you can squeeze into a kitchen island is going to be game-changing, but having the room to be a little more specialist about what you include on an island is one of the joys of a kitchen with enough room for one. 

Specialist fridge drawers are the perfect example, upping your kitchen's cold storage and making access so much easier than a floor-level extra fridge would. 'For those with a passion for cooking, we love to integrate paneled fridge drawers to store their curated collection of goodies from the local market,' echoes Vancouver-based interior designer Jenny Martin, founder of Jenny Martin Designs, who installed them in this kitchen island. 

It's a total luxury – one that makes your vegetables look good, and keeps them close at hand to your kitchen's main prep space. 

2. A microwave

a kitchen island with a microwave on

(Image credit: Sarah Winchester. Design: Nicole Hirsch Interiors)

A microwave is hardly a groundbreaking kitchen appliance, but an island can be one of the best places to locate one if you're trying to achieve a more minimalist kitchen. 'We never want to "see" a microwave,' says Nicole Hirsch of Nicole Hirsch Interiors. 'There's really usually nothing visually appealing about them, but everyone needs one, so the more we can hide them, the better.'

In this kitchen, Nicole incorporated the microwave onto the rear side of the island, ensuring that it's only seen by those prepping in the kitchen, and not by guests. If a microwave is necessary, this idea is preferable to this appliance integrated into cabinetry facing the kitchen, or a countertop microwave oven. 

3. A paper towel holder

a kitchen island with a paper towel holder

(Image credit: Dasha Armstrong. Design: Jenny Martin Design)

'We love to make the island feel like its own furniture piece, dressing it with stunning hardware, intricate millwork, and furniture kicks to make it feel purposeful,' interior designer Jenny Martin tells us. It's the devil that's in the detail when it comes to kitchen islands, and for this designer that extends to a simple, clever addition for paper towels.  'An integrated paper towel holder is one of our go-tos,' Jenny says. 

4. A countertop trash chute 

One of my favorite inclusions in a kitchen's prep area is a trash chute built into the countertop. It's the perfect practical addition to consider at the outset of your design, as not only does it mean that you don't have to carry waste across the kitchen, you can simply brush everything into the shoot, making cleaning up quick and easy. 

You don't have to be tied to locating your kitchen's main trash can underneath or next to your prep area either. You can find small lidded countertop bins like this one from Amazon, which can be set into your countertop and then simply removed and emptied. However, it's something to consider before you get your kitchen countertops templated if you're choosing stone, while it might be easier to retrofit on wood and laminate surfaces. 

Countertop built-in trash can, Amazon
Editor's pick

Countertop built-in trash can, Amazon

This stainless steel trash can is designed to be set into your countertop, but can be removed, carried by an integrated handle and emptied out after you've finished food prep. 

5. A dog bowl station 

a kitchen with a built-in dog bowl station

(Image credit: Paola Quevedo Santos. Design: HW Interiors)

This kitchen layout was designed with an often-overlooked member of the family in mind. 'One of our main goals when designing for our clients is to incorporate beautiful yet functional spaces that meet the needs of the whole family, including the dog,' say Lisa Hynes and Heather Weisz, interior designers and co-founders of HW Design.   For this kitchen peninsula, this meant creating a station to give the dog's bowls a permanent home. 

'This eye-catching built-in feeding station with pot filler makes for easy water refills and keeps the bowls out of the main flow of traffic as well,' Lisa and Heather explain. 'This unique and practical feature is a valuable addition to the kitchen of any dog lover.'

Luke Arthur Wells
Freelancer writer

Luke Arthur Wells is a freelance design writer, award-winning interiors blogger and stylist, known for neutral, textural spaces with a luxury twist. He's worked with some of the UK's top design brands, counting the likes of Tom Dixon Studio as regular collaborators and his work has been featured in print and online in publications ranging from Domino Magazine to The Sunday Times. He's a hands-on type of interiors expert too, contributing practical renovation advice and DIY tutorials to a number of magazines, as well as to his own readers and followers via his blog and social media. He might currently be renovating a small Victorian house in England, but he dreams of light, spacious, neutral homes on the West Coast.