Small kitchen island ideas

If you lack a big kitchen you might think an island is purely aspirational, yet there are many beautiful, innovative options for even the tiniest of spaces.

We've found 12 practical, stylish and small kitchen island ideas for compact kitchens. Your kitchen is the hardest-working room in the house; from the early morning breakfast rush to late night bantering with friends, and it often feels as if you could never have enough counter tops. Adding a kitchen island can be a game changer that has the power to transform how you live.

Ultra-functional and multi-purpose, islands create space for prepping, cooking, dining, socialising, home-working and storage. They can also make a huge style impact, whether that’s in contemporary or traditional kitchen design.

We’ve found the best small kitchen island ideas to help you make the most of your space.

As the saying goes, no man is an island, but there is a kitchen island for every one.

1. SLEEK STORAGE

“Think about what you would like to use an island for and try to get as much out of it as you can,” advises Daniel Bowler, Director of Eggersmann UK. With a convection hob, full height storage and an adjoining wooden breakfast bar, this design makes the most of every inch of space.

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2. HOT DESK

Working from home has gone from pipe dream to the new normal. With in-built power sockets and generous leg room, this Roundhouse Urbo island is an ergonomic dream, switching seamlessly from food-prep station to desk space. The only downside is the constant temptation of the nearby fridge…

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3. TIMELESS TONES

Introducing your new favourite spot to enjoy morning coffee. Part of British designers Daval’s Falmouth Kitchen range in dust grey, this island matches the cabinetry and walls to offer a relaxed, contemporary aesthetic with clean, well-balanced lines. Daval Managing Director Simon Bodsworth times to create an “ideal family-friendly kitchen space that requires multi-functionality.”

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4. MEALS (PREP) ON WHEELS

If you’re short on space, consider an island with wheels so it can be rolled out of the way to keep the kitchen clear when you want to. Melissa Klink, Head of Design at Harvey Jones, says “this handcrafted moveable butchers block provides extra storage and space, and can be removed to avoid a cramped look.”

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5. MINERAL MAGIC

Welcome to island life that is both beautiful and functional. Designers Day True incorporate an integrated Bora induction hob to keep the surface as usable as possible, and the worktop is wrapped in a waterproof Mortex mineral coating, giving it a unique, sumptuous waxed-concrete look.

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6. PARTY PIECE

Looking for something a little out of the ordinary? Make your island the star of the kitchen with a sunken champagne bath. Creative Design Director Tom Howley says “perfect for dinner parties, your guests will feel free to open another bottle of champagne, meaning the host need not be on top-up duty for the whole evening!” And you can fill it with flowers or plants when you’re not celebrating.

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7. SPACE MAKER

If there’s no room for an island in the centre of your kitchen, a peninsula is a clever way to achieve the same benefits of extra counter tops and seating. Mark Mills, Managing Director of Mereway Kitchens says “in very small spaces, think about surfaces. Opting for lighter cabinets in different textures - think glass, ceramic, gloss etc.- reflect light and create a much more spacious feel.”

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8. UNDER THE TABLE

Proving that an island doesn't have to be built-in, here a narrow central table acts as an island, pulling together the classic feel of this kitchen, with its warm sage green walls and reclaimed floor. Designed by British Standard, the space has an informal and sociable feel, with the bonus that the island can be moved aside for kitchen dancing.

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9. SMALL IS BEAUTIFUL

Blakes London designed this peninsular island to compartmentalise the open plan space. Proving that size isn’t everything - the island is only 700mm deep, large enough for one kitchen unit and a slight overhang for the stools - it offers different seating options within the room to increase flexibility.

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10. REFINED INDUSTRIAL

This offset island unit with bar style seating and matching end panels by Rotpunkt is a minimalist dream, with brushed metal-effect surfaces in carbon neutral Titanium Bronze. Rotpunkt’s Matt Phillips, explains the aim was to create a discreet dining area without impacting on the ‘working’ area of the kitchen, designed to bridge the gap between kitchen and living areas.

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11. MAKE IT DECADENT

This Ledbury Studio island packs a visual punch by contrasting rich marine blue velvet bar stools, dark stained oak and marble. The stool’s brushed brass bases are mirrored in the tap, and incorporating the sink is a great option for the multi-task of food prep while entertaining to watching the kids.

12. SOMETHING OLD

Even if you have the room for a large, bespoke island, sometimes something diminutive can make a bigger impact. US designer Chris Barrett says “I love using tables as islands whenever possible. I added a marble top to this Swedish antique for maximum functionality.”

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Small Kitchen Islands: Need To Know

Q: How much space do I need for a kitchen island?

A: Melissa Klink, Head of Design at Harvey Jones, says “It is important to keep practical considerations in mind when designing an island. As a rule, the walkaways around an island need to be at least 100cm wide in order to be safe and practical in the kitchen”. Daniel Bowler, Director of Eggersmann UK [EMBED www.eggersmann.com ] agrees on the metre rule all the way around, adding “remember the island itself does not need to be overly big in order to be multifunctional.”

Q: How much does it cost to install a kitchen island?

A: Available in a range of sizes and styles, the island unit is an extremely flexible proposition, so prices vary hugely. Julia Steadman, Head of Operations at Brandt Design, says “A standard designed and built-in island would start from around £3,000 +VATa, for the furniture and stone worktops; excluding any appliances, sinks and taps.”

Q: How do you install a hob or a sink in a kitchen island?

A: “Firstly, you need to make sure you have power feeds for the hob in the right place, and you need the correct amps or voltage to suit the hob you choose,” says Hayley Robson, Creative Director at Day True (EMBED: DAYTRUE.COM ). “Similarly, for sink installation your main concern is having access to the water mains. This can sometimes be harder if retro fitting, as the feeds have to be chased intothe floor, but it is still possible.”