A great way to update your kitchen is to add an island, but a traditional fixed island is a big investment. Many kitchens are not large enough to fit a fixed island into the layout: you need 13 feet minimum width to make enough space for an island in the middle of the room.
What to do then, if you want an island but don’t have the money or space for one?
The answer is movable kitchen islands and carts.
These come ready made in many sizes, or you can build your own to fit your exact situation. Generally, they consist of a table with a shelf underneath, or a cabinet with a countertop, all set on wheels or castors so the whole thing can be moved around. A rolling kitchen island can stay out in the middle of the kitchen permanently, or it can be kept pushed back against a wall, or even under a counter.
What to Look For in a Portable Kitchen Island
- Wheels or casters need to be lockable. The last thing you want is to be working at your island and have it roll away from you! Especially if you have an old house like I do, where the floors sometimes slope in odd directions.
- Low open shelves near the floor are not a good place to keep anything that needs to stay clean. Open pots and basins are a good example of what NOT to keep there, that you often see in pictures. Why is this? Because all floors have some dust, and foot traffic past the island will make the dust float into the air and settle on anything low down near floor level. People also have a bad habit of resting their feet on low shelves when they are sitting or standing at the island, and, as you can imagine, their shoes leave dirt on the shelf. Add in the possibility of pets sniffing and licking things on the low shelf, and even insects or rodents if you’re unlucky enough to suffer through any kind of infestation. My opinion is that low open shelves anywhere in the kitchen, in perimeter cabinets or islands, are a bad idea.
- Counter height can be different from the rest of the kitchen. In fact this is a very good opportunity to get a lower counter height section to use for baking or even for working at while sitting down. With a lower counter height, a kitchen island cart can also potentially fit into a space under your regular counter to be out of the way when you don’t need it.
- If you store your portable kitchen island under a section of counter, you may not be able to access all the storage in it unless you take account of limited access while you’re designing or buying it.
- Many pictures show cute storage accessories on these kitchen island carts which are not necessarily useful in real life. A wine rack? Hanging racks for wine glasses under the counter? Sounds like an invitation to banged knees and broken glasses. Really useful storage accessories could include drawer(s) large and small, hooks or a hanging rail for potholders or cloths, closed storage, or open shelves just under the work surface.
Movable kitchen islands and carts are an economical and convenient option to add storage and workspace to your kitchen without getting into the hassle of renovating the kitchen itself.