Are Kitchen Islands Really That Great? We Asked an Expert

It seems like almost everyone wants one, but are kitchen islands ruining America’s kitchens?

Classic minimal white and turquoise kitchen with parquet floor, modern interior design
Photo: ArchiViz/Getty Images

Kitchen 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, stone countertops, and, of course, a kitchen island with storage and seating. Kitchen islands seem to be the trend that just won't quit. Or will it? Is it possible that kitchen islands are ruining America's kitchens instead of improving them?


According to Houzz's 2022 U.S. Kitchen Trends Study, kitchen islands are one of the most sought-after upgrades for any culinary corner. The study found that a whopping 57% of renovating homeowners either add or upgrade an existing kitchen island. That number doesn't include the non-renovating homeowners that would love to add an island if they could afford it or feasibly alter their existing layout.

"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."

Added Benefits

While kitchen islands are undeniably aesthetically pleasing (particularly with flattering kitchen cabinet colors), Brownhill says the kitchen island's versatility has kept it front and center. Here are a few reasons so many homeowners opt for a kitchen island:

1. Extra Counter Space

"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.

2. Improved Work Flow

"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."

3. Customizable Storage

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.

Update Ideas

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 2022. 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).

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: Kitchen islands won't lose their appeal (and they surely aren't ruining America's kitchens). The appliance garage, on the other hand? TBD.

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