Kitchen islands have become a popular addition to modern kitchens, allowing for extra prep space, storage, and seating. Adding a table to your kitchen island opens up even more possibilities. Kitchen island tables provide a casual dining area, workspace for baking and food prep, and extra room for entertaining guests. There are many options when selecting an island table to maximize their functionality and fit your needs. This comprehensive guide will explore the benefits of kitchen island tables, the different styles available, how to incorporate them into your kitchen design, and tips for choosing the right one.
Benefits of Kitchen Island Tables
Kitchen island tables offer multiple advantages beyond just extra seating:
Additional Preparation Space and Storage
The table top provides ample room for chopping vegetables, rolling out dough, preparing ingredients, and more food prep tasks. Built-in storage like shelves, drawers and cabinets offer space to tuck away small appliances, cookware and pantry items. Having these necessities nearby helps create an efficient work space.
Casual Dining Area
An island table naturally creates an informal eating area in the kitchen. The seating is perfect for casual meals and snacks, especially in open concept homes where the kitchen flows into the living space. Island tables are ideal for households that spend significant time in the kitchen.
Entertaining and Serving Area
When entertaining, a kitchen island table serves as extra counter space for arranging appetizers during a party. The seating allows guests to casually gather around the island and chat with the host. For serving meals, the table provides space to set out dishes buffet style for help-yourself dining.
Multi-Purpose Kitchen Work Station
A kitchen island table functions as a desk area for recipes, laptops, tablets, and other mobile devices. Kids can use it for crafts and homework while parents are preparing meals. It’s also handy for paying bills, checking emails, and other household tasks.
Adds Visual Interest to the Kitchen
Including a table transforms a basic kitchen island into a focal point. The table introduces another texture, shape and dimension to the room. Interesting legs or an exotic table top material like butcher block can complement the existing kitchen cabinets and decor.
Styles of Kitchen Island Tables
Island tables come in many styles to suit your kitchen’s decor and needs:
Standard Table Height
The most common island table height is 36 inches, which matches the standard kitchen counter height. This allows enough knee clearance for seating at standard chair height. Full-sized kitchen islands usually accommodate a 36-inch table.
Bar Table Height
For a bar-like setting, choose a taller island table around 40 to 42 inches high. Use tall stools or chairs with backs at this height. Pub-height islands should be at least 48 inches long to provide enough leg room.
Some island tables allow you to alter the height as needed from a seated to standing position. Ideal for households with members of different heights or progressive dining arrangements.
A drop-leaf table has hinged sections on both ends that lower to hug the island when not in use. When raised, they add table space. Helpful for small kitchens.
Similar to a drop-leaf, this style folds down flush with the countertop when you want the entire island surface usable. It folds up when needed as a table.
Rolling kitchen island tables have caster wheels allowing you to easily move them around the kitchen to where they are most useful at the time.
Materials like Wood or Stone
Island tables come in wood species like oak or maple, laminates, tempered glass, granite, and other materials to match your cabinetry and kitchen esthetic.
Stylish Leg Designs
From sleek metal legs to carved wood corbels, the table legs make a style statement. Consider the existing kitchen decor when choosing leg designs.
Incorporating a Kitchen Island Table
When planning a kitchen island with a table, consider these tips:
Measure Your Space
Evaluate the room’s dimensions and available traffic lanes to determine optimal island size and placement. Allow for at least 36 inches of clearance around the island.
Select Table Size
The tabletop should overhang each side by 10-15 inches to provide leg room and easy access. Allow space for seating on two sides, or one end of a longer island.
Include Complementary Storage
Incorporate storage like shelves and drawers to maximize the island’s functionality. Accessories like hooks and towel bars also come in handy.
Coordinate Table Height
Match table height to your preferred chairs. Standard is 36-inches but may be too tall for some. A comfort-height island at 34-inches high works well.
Pick the Right Finish
Match the island table finish to existing cabinetry. A contrasting stain, metal base, or stone top can make the table a focal point.
Lighting is Key
Well-lit islands prevent eye and muscle strain. Use pendant lights or recessed lighting to illuminate the surface.
Select Durable Surfaces
Choose tabletop materials that are waterproof and stain-resistant, like granite, quartz, or stainless steel. Softer woods require careful maintenance.
Mind the Overhang
For seating on just one side, allow 20-30 inches between table edge and cabinets. Center the tabletop when seating on both sides.
Include Power Access
Outlets integrated into the island provide a convenient way to plug in a mixer, laptop, or other portable kitchen tools.
Tips for Choosing an Island Table
Follow this criteria when selecting the perfect island table:
- Purpose – Consider how you will primarily use the table – dining, entertaining, working, etc. This helps determine size and height.
- Traffic Flow – Ensure there is adequate clearance around the island for traversing the kitchen if seated diners will occupy the table.
- Size – Measure the island space and room to determine ideal tabletop dimensions for purpose, clearance and number of diners.
- Seating – Visualize table placement to accommodate seating on one or both ends of the island.
- Surfaces – Select tabletop and base materials that are durable and easy to clean like stainless steel or granite.
- Style – Choose a style that matches your kitchen’s existing decor – modern, traditional, industrial, etc.
- Leg Room – Allow 10-15 inches tabletop overhang for leg clearance and easy seating access.
- Edge Style – A rounded or beveled edge is safer and more comfortable than a blunt squared edge.
- Height – Standard table height is 36 inches, but confirm comfort height for your seating selections.
- Storage – Incorporate storage like shelving and drawers to get maximum use from your island real estate.
Kitchen Island Table Inspiration
Island tables open up creative possibilities for your kitchen. Here are some inspiring ways to put this extra surface area to use:
- Create a casual breakfast bar for quick morning meals and coffee.
- Utilize the space for food prep while chatting with guests on the other side.
- Maximize seating options with storage benches tucked beneath.
- Accommodate kids’ activities like snacks and homework in the kitchen area.
- Incorporate drop-leaf or rolling tables to save space when not dining.
- Style with baskets, trays, racks and hooks for additional storage.
- Add interest with an exotic tabletop material like concrete, stainless or natural stone.
- Use pendant lighting over an island dining space to define the seating area.
- Select barstools with arms and backs for dining comfort at counter height.
- Anchor the island visually in an open floor plan with a bold leg design like a trestle base.
FAQs About Kitchen Island Tables
Covering some frequently asked questions about incorporating an island table:
Q: What is the standard size for a kitchen island table?
A: The typical tabletop size ranges between 36-42 inches wide and 48-84 inches long. Exact dimensions depend on space available and seating requirements. Allow a 10-15 inch overhang.
Q: Should my island be centered in the kitchen?
A: Not necessarily. Off-setting it a bit can improve traffic flow. Just be sure to allow enough clearance between the island and cabinets or appliances.
Q: What is the minimum clearance needed around a kitchen island table?
A: Allow a minimum of 36-inches clearance on all sides of the island for adequate passage when occupied. Wider is better for traffic flow.
Q: Should I get barstools or chairs for an island table?
A: Standard height islands (36-inches) pair well with chairs. For bar or counter height islands above 40-inches, barstools or stools with backs work best.
Q: Is a kitchen island required to have overhead lighting?
A: Task lighting is highly recommended. Pendants are a popular choice to define the island dining space. Recessed lighting also works well.
Q: Can I use a smaller island table that doesn’t match the rest of my cabinetry?
A: Certainly. Contrasting island table sizes, materials and colors can add visual interest to your kitchen design.
Q: What is the best material for a kitchen island work table?
A: Durable and renewable materials like granite, engineered quartz, stainless steel, and solid surface materials resist stains, scratches and water damage at this high-use work station.
Kitchen island tables unlock a host of helpful functions beyond food prep space. From casual dining to family hangouts and entertaining, an island table opens up your kitchen. When thoughtfully incorporated into the room’s dimensions and traffic flow, a kitchen island table can provide work space, storage, seating, and style. Evaluate how you will use the island, then select size, seating, and design features suited to your household’s needs. With numerous options, you can find the perfect island table to enhance your culinary space.