Sure, everyone wants one, but are they all they're cracked up to be?

By Kelsey Mulvey
Updated September 04, 2019
Kitchen island popularity, explained
Credit: Getty Images

Kitchen decor trends come and go, but today’s ideal kitchen has a very specific look to it, whether it’s a farmhouse kitchen or an ultra-modern one: Stainless steel appliances, marble countertops, and, of course, some good kitchen island ideas. Some trends come and go, sure, but kitchen islands seem to be the trend that just won’t quit. Or will it?

According to Houzz’s 2017 U.S. Kitchen Trends Study, kitchen islands are one of the most sought-after features for any culinary corner. The study even found that millennials are likely to install kitchen islands in their spaces if there isn’t one already.

“We see thousands of kitchen renovations at Sweeten, and an island is often on the ‘must-have’ list,” says Jean Brownhill, founder and CEO of Sweeten, a platform that matches homeowners with vetted general contractors. “One suburban family took down the wall separating the dining room and kitchen, adding a large, curved island,” she says. “Another couple dreamed about being able to redesign their 1940s kitchen with an island.”

Kitchen islands are all the rage, but why? Are they really that great?

While they’re undeniably aesthetically pleasing (particularly with good kitchen cabinet colors), Brownhill says the kitchen island’s versatility has kept it front and center.

“The kitchen island is a workhorse, providing extra counter space and hidden storage,” she says. “An island can act as a second self-sufficient mini kitchen.”

Anyone spending Sunday meal-prepping a week’s worth of dishes will appreciate the counter space. Plus, thanks to its location in the center of your kitchen, islands offer a seamless convenience L-shaped layouts or peninsula countertops can’t match.

“The additional work surface makes moving around the kitchen easier,” Brownhill says. “It's usually no more than one to two steps away from any point in the room.”

In addition to being a great place for your kids to congregate and do their homework, the extra countertop real estate can come in handy if you’re trying to deck out your kitchen with the latest and greatest gadgets.

“It can hold cabinets and drawers, tuck away small appliances from eye level, carry electrical outlets, and hide a mini- or wine fridge,” Brownhill says.

Kitchen islands have been popular for years now, but there are some ways that you can help your kitchen island feel less 2009 and more 2019. Brownhill says she’s been noticing a rise in waterfall countertops, styles with wraparound seating, and furniture pieces that are converted into islands, which is a great option for anyone passionate about upcycling (or moving frequently).

But whether you are looking to infuse the latest trends into your kitchen or simply want to make the most of your space, one thing’s for sure: A great kitchen island won’t go out of style. The appliance garage, on the other hand? TBD.