Adding an island in a small and tight kitchen seems absurd at first. The floor space is already low, and adding an island will take up more floor space than you think you’d wish to give.
Fortunately, it is still possible to add an island to a kitchen that’s already short of space. Think of the benefits you can get extra storage space, additional work surface, and another place to sit down and grab a bite, or watch videos on your iPad to get new recipe ideas. And you can still have adequate room to move and work around.
The key to including an island is to know your needs, knowing the exact square footage of your kitchen’s available floor space, and finding for a piece that will address all your needs at once. For a small kitchen, you will need an island that measures no more or less than 1 x 1 meter (40 x 40 inches). But if you plan to add a rectangular or elongated island instead of square, it should be no less than 24 inches (or 61 centimeters) wide to give yourself enough workspace.
Moveable islands for small kitchens
As a rule of thumb in kitchen design, you should allow for at least three feet (about one meter) of clear space between a stationary island and other work surfaces. It is to enable comfort, efficiency, and ease of moving around in the kitchen. But if you use a moveable island or workspace, this factor is not that crucial, as you will be able to adjust the space as necessary.
The compact galley kitchen does not seem to need an island, because its layout itself makes cooking and preparing meals faster and more efficient. In fact, professional chefs often prefer this type of kitchen. However, if more space allows, you can add a small, sturdy table as a midpoint prep station where one can chop the ingredients, while another is busy sauteeing at the stove area.
The use of rolling islands or kitchen carts has become popular, especially for owners of small kitchens. They have smart space-saving features such as pull-out work surface, drop leaves, hooks for storing some utensils or oven mitts, drawer handles that also function as rods for the dish towels, removable or adjustable butcher block surfaces, and flexible interior storage.
Some moveable islands can be tucked under the counter when not in use and can function like the fixed kitchen drawers and cabinets. They can be pulled out when you need an extra work surface.
Kitchens in tiny apartments have just enough space for versatile kitchen island carts that provide a prep surface and at least a two-tiered shelving. When not in use, it can be pushed towards the window area, or any other area. You can use it as a study table, crafts table, or just a place to put a vase of fresh flowers.
Steel-legged tables with locking casters are ideal mostly for industrial style kitchens. You can partner such type of table with a couple of metal-legged stools to make prepping more comfortable or to just sit and have a quick brekkie. The table can be moved out of the way when you need to clean and mop the floor. Compared to a solid island, the openness of these tables would make a small kitchen look bigger than it really is.
If your kitchen has a more rustic style, go for vintage islands, sofa tables, and consoles. They add to the overall warm ambiance to these types of kitchens, while adding a point of interest.
If your primary concern is additional work surface, a butcher block island will be right up your alley. You can order a relatively cheap island on the Internet or have a craftsman in your area to design and create a quality butcher block top in your preferred shape, size, or design. You can also have it customized that will add a point of interest to your kitchen.