The 6 Types of Kitchen Islands

Updated: Mar 21

Kitchen islands range in price and functionality from the cheapest and most basic to the most expensive and functional. The important dividing point is between the portable and the permanent/fixed island. Electrical service is not necessary for the first class, but it is required in the second. Running power is costly and invasive; if your house foundation is slab-on-grade, this requires cutting into the slab or running wires from above. Running wires from the attic isn't as difficult as it appears. Here's an island idea whereby two pillars run up from the island to the ceiling, acting both as structural supports and possibly disguising cables.

Check out the following different types of kitchen islands, plus their pros and cons, to consider for your needs

1. The Rolling Cart "Island"

This hardly qualifies as a kitchen island, but we have to start somewhere. Rolling carts are more like moveable prep areas that you keep to the side of the kitchen rather than having them clearly displayed next to your main worktops. A common sort of moving "island" is the butcher block cart.

|PROS|: These islands are inexpensive and simple to get to and from.

|DISABILITIES|: Rolling carts have a tendency to roll. Unexpectedly frequently, these wheels become unlocked. When locked, these wheels don't have enough traction on the floor.

2. Small, Non-Portable Kitchen Island

These islands differ from the above-mentioned portable, rolling cart islands in that they lack wheels on the bottom. Furthermore, they make a concerted effort to mimic a "genuine" kitchen island.

They're 38" tall, which is ideal for meal prep, and they don't have the annoying habit of rolling and sliding away as you're cutting things.

Do not affix this type of island to the floor to avoid triggering the electrical code's requirement for the installation of receptacles.

|PROS|: This is the way to go if you want a simple island.

|What we don't care for|

You might be shocked by how small these islands are. They must be rather compact because they are marketed flat-packed and are frequently freighted or sent to you. The maximum length is usually four feet.

Some consumers have complained that the flip-up leaves do not stay level and are therefore useless for working on.

3. Kitchen Island Table

It has four legs and a flat top, so it's a table, but it's in the middle of the island, so it's had to be an island. It's only a table that serves as an island for food preparation.


These islands are simple to transport and set up.

If you don't like it, you can easily remove it (it's not attached to the floor).

Using a table as an island also adds a Martha Stewart touch to your kitchen, but in a nice manner.


There's no receptacle, sink, or backsplash, so it's just an extra flat surface. It's just a table, after all.

4. Base Cabinet With Countertop

An island made using repurposed materials, such as a base cabinet (or two or four) topped with countertop material.

Because the islands were moveable at the time, no electrical rule mandated that receptacles be installed into them. This form of the built-in island, which is permanently attached to the floor, is now considered permanent. Electrical receptacles are required if the countertop dimensions are 12" x 24" or more.


The simplest built-in kitchen island to create for a homeowner, but not the cheapest.


The rear side of the cabinet, which is normally hidden because it faces the wall, must be covered with a veneer piece. If your kitchen allows it, you can also marry two base cabinets back to back if you have the space.

Countertop material will need to be trimmed "to size."

5. Fully Functional Island (Electricity and Water)

If you want to sell your home to a new family, it's also a good idea to complete one last project. If your home just has one bathroom, it's a good idea to install another and redesign it to appeal to a potential buyer. Most new homes today are particularly interested in upgrading their toilets, so saving a few bucks to renovate your bathroom would be money well spent.


This isn't just "more counter space," but a full-fledged second kitchen.


You save cooking space by establishing a distinct eating area. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't prepare meals on that upper deck. You could always intrude on the eating area if you needed to with a flat cooking/eating island.

6. Double-Tiered Cooking/Eating Kitchen Island

Is this a kitchen island for cooking or for eating? Because it can't make up its mind, it's opted to be both. This island integrates the two duties while still separating them so that cooking takes place on one level and eating takes place on another.


This island is ergonomically sound: the best counter height for a standing chef is 36 inches, and the best bar top height is 42 inches.


You save cooking space by establishing a distinct eating area. Even if you wanted to, you couldn't prepare meals on that upper deck. You could always intrude on the eating area if you needed to with a flat cooking/eating island.



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