The hardworking kitchen island can be a very functional and beautiful centerpiece of a kitchen design, and it's one of the most popular features of a modern kitchen. But it's not the only way to go. In some spaces an island can feel more cumbersome than useful. If you are feeling the urge to break away from the island-centric kitchen, check out our bevy of inspiring ideas below.
Save space with an island and table in one. The innovative kitchen in this Sydney home features an island counter on one side, with built-in seating and a marble-topped, extendable table on the other end. Combining a table with an island is a great space saver, and an extendable table can seat a crowd without taking up too much space on a daily basis.
Another great island-table hybrid, this set works extra hard — the stools are comfy enough to sit on through dinner, yet they can be tucked completely under the table to free up kitchen workspace during prep time.
Encourage cozy suppers with a kitchen table. With an ample-size rustic wood table in the center of your kitchen, family and friends are sure to gather around it night and day. It's so much warmer and friendlier than a big, blocky kitchen island, and it's perfect for spreading school projects out on as well.
Streamline your kitchen with a modern dining set. If you have counter space covered and appliances tucked against the walls, as in the L-shaped kitchen shown here, why bulk up your kitchen with an island at all? A marble-topped Saarinen dining table and Eames chairs (as shown here) are a highly covetable pairing among modern design enthusiasts and enhance the light, airy feel of a white kitchen.
Get the best of both worlds with a working-height table. When you need more kitchen prep space but don't want a giant island with to-the-floor storage, a tall table is a good solution. You can still comfortably do prep work, but this type of table takes up far less visual space than a built-in island.
Taller kitchen tables are also great for narrow spaces. A slender table like the one shown here doesn't take up too much space but allows ample room to work. If you wanted to sneak in a bit of extra storage, you could track down a table with drawers or an open shelf, or have a knife rack built into the side.
Enhance flow in an open-plan space with a kitchen table. When your living, dining and cooking spaces are visually linked, a gigantic kitchen island in the middle of everything can look out of place. Choosing a table instead, whether counter height or dining height, will give your entire space a more relaxed, comfortable feel.
An old wooden table with a rich patina warms up any kitchen but works especially well when the kitchen opens to a wider living space. Add a soft rug underfoot to boost the comfort factor even more.
Cozy up a contemporary island with plush seats. You can also work with an existing island by choosing ultraplush upholstered tall benches, instead of the typical bar stools. These are extra wide and have a shape that makes them look more like mini settees than stools, and they look supremely comfortable.