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Do You Need a Dining Table if You have an Island?

Collage of dining table and kitchens with island.

So, you have an island already in your kitchen and you’re wondering whether or not you need a dining table. It’s one of those decisions that really comes down to personal preference and can depend heavily on the size (or amount of space available) in your kitchen.

While an island offers versatility and functions as additional counter/prep space in your kitchen (some islands provide added storage and can even be retrofitted with a sink or gas range) this doesn’t mean you’ll want to sit at your island for each and every meal.

Then again, having a dining table might seem redundant, especially if your household is small and you don’t regularly host friends and family at your home. Dining tables also take up space, which might be a problem if you don’t have a dining room and a lot of space in your kitchen.

As you can see, the answer to the question “do you need a dining table if you have an island already?” can be quite complex. To help answer it, we’re going to explore the benefits and downsides to both dining tables and kitchen islands below:

Related: Kitchen Islands with Multiple Seating | Kitchen Island Dimensions with Seating | Kitchens with Dining Tables | Dining Table Accessories | Kitchens with Built-in Tables

Dining Tables vs Islands

This is a look at an eat-in kitchen with a large dark dining set across from the kitchen island that has stools.

From family gatherings to business get-togethers, the kitchen can be considered the ‘heart and soul’ of your home. That’s why when choosing either a kitchen island or a dining table, it’s best to consider both the functionality and design, to determine which will fit more properly in your home.

With that in mind, let’s go over some more details to help you better understand the relevance of each.


This is a close look at a kitchen with a large kitchen island that is paired with a set of industrial-style stools that match the pendant lights hanging from the beamed ceiling.

According to many, the kitchen island is the centerpiece of the room that holds most social activity. Kitchen islands are more often seen in larger areas.

However, along with food prep and dining room appeal, there are plenty of other ways that they can accommodate your home. Keep in mind that the standard height for a kitchen island is between 36 to 42 inches from the floor to ensure you have plenty of space while both sitting and standing.

Although the recommended spacing for a kitchen island was only 36 inches in the past, experts now suggest at least 38 to 42 inches of distance surrounding your kitchen island, so it may be important to get an idea of some new kitchen layouts to make your setup more convenient.

In a situation where you may need to look into a more space-saving method, it is probably a good idea to consider a kitchen island that contains storage cabinets or other special features that more properly help you display and organize your kitchen necessities.

Dining Tables

This is a close look at a rectangular dining table with a wooden top surrounded by an assortment of chairs and adorned with colorful dishes.

With that being said, a dining table may be a better fit if you’re looking for a more spacious, comfortable, and convenient place for dining.

While the average dining table takes up about 36 inches of space, it generously accommodates by leaving the room to appear more open from the under-the-table view of the flooring.

dining tables can be great for providing more counter space for everyday activities (such as arts and crafts, business work, and family dining) since a wide variety offer table extensions that are easily able to convert a casual side table to a large, family-sized dining space.

However, while dining tables do tend to offer more counter space and floor room, there are many homeowners who are eager to trade in their dining table for an island. Whether this is due to new cosmetic and/or storage upgrades, kitchen islands seem to be in a high-demand.

How Often Do You Eat at Your Dining Table?

A family of four eating a meal on their wooden dining table by the kitchen island.

Times are ever-changing, and today, a lot of people seem to use their dining tables for something a little less beneficial than its intended purposes, such as a junk mail holder or even just an extra piece of material taking up space.

If you’re someone who likes to eat out or lounge in the living room for meals, then it may be time to upgrade from your once well-used (but now unnecessary) dining table to a stylish and convenient kitchen island.

Will Your Island Be as Comfortable as Your Table?

There do happen to be some instances where a kitchen island will have just as pleasant of a dining experience that a dining table would offer, and in some cases, even more.

So if you’re thinking about upgrading, but happen to be someone who makes frequent use of your dining table, there are still plenty of reasons why an island could be beneficial to your lifestyle.

Always remember to keep your kitchen layout in mind when purchasing an island to guarantee it has the ability to provide you with what you’re after.

Do You Need the Separation Between Different Areas in Your Kitchen?

When we think of a kitchen island, typically what comes to mind for most people is a lonely standing platform in the middle of a room, but sometimes, it may be a strip in between the cooking and dining area of the kitchen in a way that some people may find too close for comfort.

Reasons to Consider a Dining Table Instead of an Island

A mother and daughter preparing food on the dining table in the middle of the kitchen that has no island.

Now that we’ve gone over some information about kitchen islands, let’s go back to tables for a moment. We understand why kitchen islands are a popular choice, but there are also lots of dining tables that are just as convenient and eye appealing, so we still need to do some thinking when it comes to which one will be a better addition to your home.

Because they can offer more storage options, a good work area, and a lively accent piece for the room, kitchen islands might seem like a must-have for larger kitchen areas. But of course, everyone has different preferences when it comes to the perfect setup.

Since you may not have space or desire to purchase an island, putting some thought into a strategically placed dining table is a simple and common alternative. To better understand the table-island competition, we’re going to go over 10 instances where dining tables show to be more beneficial than islands.

Work Your Walls

In an extended country kitchen, having a table rather than an island can give off a presence of more space.

If you’re worried about having to make room for extra table space, wall-mounting, or shelving some simple kitchen appliances are a good way to give off a more organized and spacious feel.

Top Your Table

Islands are known to be bulky and stand out, which tends to distract from a nice countertop. A little cottage-type house with a white and wood design would be a perfect location for a zinc-topped dining table to add some appeal.

Encourage Flexibility

Unlike a more permanent kitchen island fix, you can easily reorganize your layout to keep your kitchen up-to-date on your latest set up ideas. So when the time comes to upgrade or relocate your table, it will be easy and convenient.

Take the Weight Off

While an island may seem like a better option when it comes to kitchen duties, there’s nothing saying that a dining table isn’t just as-if not more- convenient due to larger counter space and an option to have a well-deserved sit-down session while you continue to work.

Style It Out

There are tons of different options when it comes to choosing tables. The table you chose can range anywhere from a rustic to a modern design,(depending on your style preference) and can give your kitchen a more special touch.

For example, a rich wood table and bench combination would give off a more subtle and appropriate dining room vibe, rather than an island that could make a small room feel cramped.

Maximize a Slim Space

This is a bright eat-in kitchen with a dining table surrounded by bright cabinetry that makes the appliances stand out.

A thinner kitchen calls for a creative and compact table design to ensure you still have plenty of space to get around. To avoid overcrowding your table area, it could be a good idea to look into lower stools that will slide easily underneath to provide more room.

Separate Your Kitchen From Your Dining Area

The luxury of having a separate dining room is not something that everyone gets to experience, so islands can be an efficient way to separate the cooking area from the dining area. However, not every kitchen is designed to be set up this way.

By incorporating the whole room as one general kitchen unit for cooking and dining, you can actually make it seem like a larger area, and provide space for a more inclusive table.

Aim High

For a more narrow or crowded room, a tall wooden table would be far less hazardous and provide a more kept look than a bulky kitchen island, while also serving a meaningful purpose.

Celebrate Stylish Chairs

When owning a kitchen island, the sole purpose is for some sort of activity to occur, like making lunch or writing a grocery list. However, with a simple and unique designer table, you can easily spice up a room of any style, even if kitchen activities are not a part of your agenda.