by Brooke Bartlett
If your kitchen has little counter space but a lot of floor space, adding a kitchen island is a smart way to increase your work and storage areas. There is wide a variety of ready-made kitchen islands and kitchen carts available to match any design, style, or decor, with features that will work in your kitchen.
Measure the area. Measure the available space in your kitchen to determine the size of the island you need. Pay attention to how much space you need to open appliances, such as the refrigerator, oven, or dishwasher. Leave three feet of open space between the kitchen cart and solid structures like walls, cabinets, or appliances.
Choose materials. You might want the island to match the cabinets or to have a contrasting finish. Decide whether you want a sturdy, solid wood piece or something made out of less expensive, though less durable, materials.
Choose a countertop. Marble or granite are good if you do a lot of baking because those smooth, natural materials are perfect for rolling out pastry crust or fondant. Marble is beautiful but stains easily, so it is not advisable if you work with a lot of foods that can leave stains such as homemade sauces that entail lots of chopping. Many chefs choose butcher blocks. If cost is a consideration, laminate or steel are inexpensive, versatile options.
Evaluate features. Some kitchen carts feature drawers and cabinets for storage, while others offer open shelves or wine racks beneath the countertop. Many islands feature an end towel rack, which may or may not work in the space you have. Some islands offer power outlets, but the island still needs to be plugged into an outlet in your kitchen. Some have a drop-leaf top, which is helpful if your kitchen is especially small.
Assess portability. Decide whether you want an island that is easily movable versus one that is intended to remain in one place. If your kitchen is small, a cart that is on lockable casters is easy to relocate as needed. If your kitchen is large, however, or you intend to add bar stools and use your island for extra seating, you'll want a more stable fixture.