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20 Clever Small Island Ideas for Your Kitchen

Example of small kitchen island being a butcher block.Welcome to our gallery featuring a selection of 45 small islands for kitchens.

Based on our extensive kitchen design research, we’ve found that these days 75% of kitchens have a island. The thing is, it’s easy to install an island in a big kitchen space, but not always easy in a small kitchen space. That’s where this gallery comes in – we provide a nice list of photo examples featuring small islands in small kitchens.

Related: Small Kitchen Ideas

What’s considered a small kitchen island?

The concept of a small kitchen island is subjective. There isn’t no set dimension to qualify an island as small. However, relative to kitchens generally, some are small and some are medium-sized and some are large.

Our approach in selecting small island ideas for our gallery is to choose islands that can accommodate no more than 2 bar stools. As you’ll see, we include examples that are smaller than that too… just to give you a variety of examples.

This extensive collection includes styles ranging from modern to contemporary to rustic, each one with its own unique charm and purpose despite compact size.

Between white kitchens, dark wood kitchens and kitchens with synthetic material, this collection is one of our most varied in terms of design and style. Even though they’re small islands, many offer features larger islands have such as island sinks, island stoves, an area for sitting and more.

The above eat-in kitchen has a small glass-tile backsplash and granite countertops that are polished to a high sheen.

Other kitchens to look for are those with stonework around the cabinets, giving the room an old-world feel and rustic charm; kitchens with utterly minimalistic style with no fixtures on any of the cabinetry; and kitchens with multi-tonal wood or stone island countertops.

While a larger kitchen is a very common reason that people want to move out of their current home, these smaller kitchen designs prove that with the right layout, any size kitchen can be a dream kitchen design.

This upscale small kitchens gallery doesn’t feature tiny kitchen designs and that’s by design.

Instead, we wish to illustrate how you can create incredible kitchen island design ideas in small to moderate kitchen spaces – each kitchen including an island. In other words, you don’t need a huge footprint in order to design a beautiful and functional kitchen with an island.

We hope you’ll enjoy this selection of beautiful kitchens.

Photo Examples of Small Kitchen Islands

The next section is a variety of small island design ideas, most of which are custom built.

1. Kitchen island cart (with or without wheels)

Small kitchen island cart on wheels with stainless steel top.

We kick this off with a tiny kitchen island which is really a cart-island on wheels. You can buy these at most online furniture stores. We feature many different types of kitchen island carts here. This is an ideal solution for a tiny kitchen because it really is useful and provides another work surface. Moreover, the models with wheels enable you to move it around so it can also double as a serving station.

2. Four Legs and a Surface

A stunning minimalist kitchen with a mixture of white glossy synthetic countertops and natural wood with a striking woodgrain. The countertops are layered to look as though they weren't originally together. The white and wood of this kitchen is accented by the chrome legs of the island and of the other fixtures.

Here’s an example of a very comact simple island/peninsula idea that looks great. The island is merely 4 chrome legs with a white surface. This is made even nicer with a wood bridge creating a peninsula.

3. Go Square

A small eat-in kitchen with rich <a class=cherry wood cabinets and stainless steel appliances. The green-gray granite countertops almost glow when lit up by the under-cabinet lighting. The small kitchen island plays host to two modern-style barstools with metallic backs.” width=”849″ height=”565″ />

While not the smallest island you can install, it’s not huge either. It maximizes surface area and storage with a square shape that works well in a square l-shaped kitchen. Remember to ensure you leave sufficient aisle space around the island. Check out our kitchen layouts article for important kitchen dimension details.

4. Tuck Against the Wall

A small kitchen with a <a class=two-tier island and bead board accents on the cabinet. A door on the right wall leads out to the backyard. The walls and ceiling are covered in a subtle print. Foliage on yellow for the walls, dots on white on the ceiling.” width=”870″ height=”577″ />

This is a gorgeous small kitchen and it adds the island with breakfast bar without encroaching workable space by butting the island up agains the wall. I suppose it’s technically a peninsula, it’s a peninsula not attached to any other part of the kitchen so has that island feel. Source: Zillow DigsTM

5. Simple Island Design

A modern kitchen with frosted-glass cabinetry and shelving on the side of the room and behind the main preparation area. The cooktop is in the kitchen island, leaving more countertop space for preparation.

Here’s an example of a small modern island design that’s very simple. This kitchen would not be the same without it. The chrome and white stools jazz it up.

6. Breakfast bar and working surface combo

Lengthy <a class=pendant lights hang in a trio above the curved, polished wooden island with black iron accents. A gorgeous skylight above the sink area lets in natural light to brighten the small kitchen.” width=”850″ height=”565″ />

The island in this kitchen is a breakfast bar with a lower working surface on the kitchen side. It’s what I call a 2-tier island. Frankly, it looks like this kitchen could accommodate a larger island.

7. Diner Counter

An apartment kitchen with glossy black cabinetry and white countertops. The island has shelving on one side beneath the countertop.

The above kitchen design showcases a smart small island design. It serves primarily as a dining area, but since it’s in the kitchen it could easily be a work surface too. Great for small living spaces such as an apartment or condo. Source: Zillow DigsTM

8. The Balcony Island

A small kitchen split between light hardwood floors and dusky red-tile. The two-tiered island has a butcher-block countertop and hanging storage for pot covers.

Here’s a brilliant way to get the most out of a skinny island. Notice how it extends a “balcony” eating area on the back end that wraps around to one side. This minimizes the island size yet maximizes its use. Very smart and looks great.

9. The Flying Buttress Kitchen Island

 A small kitchen with an L-shaped island in two-toned granite. Large floor-to-ceiling windows peer out on the backyard patio, complete with a layered stone fireplace.

Not terribly small, but the point here is to show you how to use a classic architectural concept called the flying buttress to create what I call a “buttress Island”. You simply create a large L-shape plank and lay it on top of another surface and voila… you have an island.

10. Skinny Island

Another modern and minimalist small kitchen with hard wood floors and white cabinetry without visible pulls. The seamless windows that cover the rear of the room have pull-down shades for privacy.

If you have a longish narrow kitchen, you can install a skinny island. The above is a great example of a long skinny island that is very useful.

11. More Skinny

An entire kitchen and dining room in pristine white. The kitchen is divided into two halves by the center wall, with a dining set on either side.

Here’s another take on a skinny island. See more of this home here. Designed by JM Architecture.

12. Traditional small island

A white kitchen with glass-tile backsplash and hardwood flooring. A small kitchen island has chairs that match those of the dining set just behind them.

Above is a traditional island with some nice ornamentation that’s not all that big. It has a dining side and a working surface side… but all one level.

13. Squarish

A white kitchen with olive-green tile backsplash and an ornate dark-wood floor. The top wall cabinets are backlit and used for display.

As mentioned above, a square island can maximize island size even for small spaces. This island above is a squarish island but adds some stylish curves on two sides. This proves to be a good example of another way to create an attractive compact island.

14. Small Round Island

Red modern g-shape kitchen with flat panel cabinetry, stainless steel appliances and 2 islands.

Okay, ignore the monstrous curved outer island. I want to focus on the itty bitty round island in the center with a sink. It’s super cool and it’s small size is one that could fit in many l-shape and u-shape kitchens. Source: Zillow Digs TM

15. Small Octagon Island

Radial kitchen design with semi-circle two-level island. Wood beamed ceiling in spoke design maintains the radial layout. Extensive use of wood throughout.

Again, ignore the enormous outer curved island and check out the small octagon-shaped island in the center. It looks great and works in any curved kitchen design. Source: Zillow Digs TM

16. The Elevated Table

Here’s a popular small island solution which is to essentially use a table, or in this case, an elevated table as the island and eating area. It really doesn’t get easier than this since you can easily find old tables around and refinish them so they look great in your kitchen. Zillow Digs TM

17. The Skinny Rectangle Butcher Block Island

We used a small butcher block in a home we lived in a few years back. You can buy these anywhere that sells a good variety of furniture. The one above, is a really nice one with a rustic natural vibe to it. These are great because you have a cutting board ready to go 24/7. Source: Zillow Digs TM

18. Antique Island

Here’s an example illustrating the concept of buying an antique console table or something similar and using it as an island. I think this piece looks out of place in this kitchen, but in the right kitchen it’s a beautiful piece of furniture that makes for a fabulous island. FYI, you may need to add a kitchen-friendly surface such as granite or engineered quartz.

19. Skinny and Odd?

I included this example because it’s just plain odd. It does illustrate how you can use a narrow island in a larger galley layout. Another notable feature is how the island proper has a dining table extending from it. That’s pretty cool… but I would do without the cow decor.

20. Square Butcher Block

If your kitchen is square in shape, get a square butcher block. You don’t have to install it… just assemble and place it in the kitchen. Couldn’t be easier and it definitely looks great.