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A kitchen island is one of the big reasons people want to remodel. Having one gives you space to spread out while you’re cooking and provides a spot for friends and family to hang out at the same time. It’s also a smart place to install extra appliances, like a wine fridge or beverage cooler—or, depending on where your sink is, the dishwasher. It’s so versatile and useful. It just might become your homework, happy hour, and weekend breakfast headquarters.

There are lots of kitchen island ideas out there to consider as you plan your kitchen remodel, and the best ones can help you make the smartest use of your space. Among all the other kitchen design trends, we’ve seen lots of customers opt to open their kitchen up into another room, like a dining room or adjacent breakfast room, to fit an island. If you have an older kitchen, you might have a peninsula that takes up more square footage than you’d like, and want to swap it for something more streamlined.

Scroll on to see some of the best kitchen island ideas we’ve seen lately.

1. Build in a Microwave

Kitchen island idea with microwave drawer and Wolf stove
A microwave drawer is strategically placed in this kitchen island, across from the Wolf range.

Design by Dawn Reeves Design (@dawnreevesdesign); photo by Ryan McDonald (@rymcdon)

There’s a lot to love in this kitchen by Dawn Reeves Design, starting with those twin Sub Zero refrigerators paneled in blue cabinetry. Look closer, and you’ll see a convenient microwave drawer built right into the island. We like this placement, right across from the Wolf range, so you can heat everything up at once and slide it over onto the island for a casual dinner.

2. …Or a Wine Fridge

Wine fridge in kitchen island idea
A wine fridge built into the hangout side of this kitchen island gives easy access to bottles without getting in the cook’s way.

Design and photo by Emily of Project Ivel (@projectivel)

You may think you don’t have space for a wine fridge, but you just might be able to sneak one in this way. The seating side of a kitchen island is a great hidden spot. We love how the 15-inch appliance can squeeze in next to the barstools. This kitchen layout couldn’t be more convenient.

3. Add a Kitchen Island Table

Kitchen island table idea in blue and white kitchen
A mahogany-topped extension is the perfect spot for breakfast.

Design by Maggie Mangano; photo by Kristyna Saja/Designer Appliances

Homeowner Ruth Williams was a little skeptical when her kitchen designer, Maggie Mangano, suggested adding a section topped with a contrasting material at the end of her new island. They had already shifted the layout from a peninsula to a very long, straight island. But Mangano was right, says Williams. “My husband and I eat breakfast here almost every day.” They sourced the wood from Grothouse.

At the opposite end of the island, there's a beverage cooler and shelves to hold their cookbook collection.

The BlueStar range is a custom color, and the light fixture is from Ballard Designs (Williams painted it to match her palette).

4. Use Furniture Instead

Kitchen island idea with vintage table and vintage Viking range
A vintage work table is the ideal complement to this vintage Viking range.

Design and photo by Peter Pennoyer Architects (@peterpennoyerarchitects)

This charming English kitchen designed by Peter Pennoyer Architects takes an “unfitted” approach, meaning most everything, including the vintage Viking range, is freestanding—no walls of cabinets here. The wooden worktables fit right in.

5. Wrap the Seating Around

Kitchen island idea with wraparound seating
Wraparound seating lets you fit more people at the island.

Design by J. Patryce Design (@jpatrycedesign); photo by Kirsten Francis (@kirstenrfrancis)

This black-and-white kitchen has a cool mod twist, thanks to its rounded furniture and globe lights. Its island has countertop overhang on two sides, so more people can hang out. Just be sure you have enough room for people to walk behind on all sides. You don’t want to have traffic jams or have it feel too tight to get by. Three and a half feet is generous; a little over three feet might do in a pinch, depending on your particular space.

6. Double Up

Kitchen island idea with two islands
If you have the room, two islands might serve you better than one.

Design and photo by Jade Lundgren (@jadelundgren)

This double island kitchen is as well equipped for cooking as a restaurant, and we love how the “galley” layout puts everything in easy reach. The matte white Cafe appliances add to the style factor. There's a range and dishwasher on two sides of the rectangle, and a single wall oven on another—everything you need to prep a big meal like Thanksgiving. The backsplash with its narrow shelf is a beautiful (and practical) detail as well.