10 Stylishly Functional Kitchen Islands

Kitchen islands are, by nature, fantastically functional specimens. They store stuff, they provide additional countertop workspace, they hold baskets and the inherent oddly shaped items necessitated by cooking. They are powerful workhorses of a kitchen, often making the “actual” kitchen (meaning the cupboards and drawers and appliances around the perimeter of the space) fade into the background.

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It’s no secret that kitchen islands work hard. But they can work hard and look stylishly at home while doing it. Here are ten fantastic islands, enormous to postage-stamp-small, rustic to contemporary, that prove the beauty of a well-designed functional piece.

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The mother of all kitchen islands, this one could easily double as a dining table. Or, frankly, a kitchen in and of itself! (Not really.) (But kind of.) A tall gooseneck faucet (on a lovely stainless steel apron sink) provides added height, which nicely balances the very horizontal plane of this particular island.

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An industrial style kitchen island can be custom made for a very small kitchen. As you can see on this example, there are plenty of good-sized drawers and shelves integrated into the design. A folding leaf on the butcher block top is a very functional addition, letting the island also serve as a dining table as needed.

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This large island not only looks great, but it serves several different functions in the kitchen. (As all good kitchen islands should.) It’s a bar, a large food prep space, and the beautiful face of much kitchen storage. The craftsman details on this island make it an absolute showstopper, but I love how it still pulls its functional weight in the space.

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Not every kitchen island needs to be huge to be effective, though. In smaller kitchens, a smaller kitchen island is necessary. But certain details will make the island stand on its own two feet. (Or whatever.) Like a bright, cheerfully colorful base topped with butcher block. (And a flourishing chandelier over top of it all.) The island adds plenty of storage and workspace to this little space.

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Speaking of smaller kitchen islands, this one is a beauty. Carefully crafted from 2x4s and finished with a rustic look, this island is maxing out its potential. Casters allow for easy movability to where the island is needed, hooks keep fresh towels at the ready, and drawers and shelves provide plenty of storage for transportable items. This little island would be a benefit to any kitchen.

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The bottom line for, the entire point of, a kitchen island is function. Different kitchens might require different types of function of their islands – storage, additional counter space, maybe a place to sit. In this kitchen, a chunky rustic two-tiered table performs the shelving beautifully.

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Cupboards are all well and good, but if you have the space, you should consider adding in some pullout drawers behind island cupboard doors. Talk about functional luxury. (Also: How much do you love a kitchen island painted in a different color than the kitchen cabinetry?)

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And while we’re talking about dreamy functional upgrades that are possible with a kitchen island, let’s not fail to mention the custom refrigerator feature, shall we? Genius for keeping the ever-choppable produce chilled and at-hand during dinner prep.

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Tile-topped and designed for beauty, this large island is definitely the heart of this kitchen. And, if you ask me, a group of hanging shiny copper cookware will make just about any island look well. Not that this one needed the extra help. With its variety of storage options and uses, it’s as useful as it is beautiful.

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