5 Ways to Kick Your Kitchen Island Up a Notch

1. Integrated Chopping Block and Knife Holder

This island in a Chicago-area duplex penthouse, designed by Jaffe Architecture + Interiors, features a thick end-grain butcher block contiguous with a sleek, light-colored countertop. Look closely and you’ll see a stainless steel knife holder built right into the block.

Design note: Mixing materials — especially wood and stone or quartz — is on-trend for kitchen island countertops.

Blackband Design
2. Dog Bowl Station With Pot Filler

Pet owners may drool over this kitchen island, which is in a modern Mediterranean-style kitchen on Southern California’s Newport Coast. Blackband Design equipped a niche at one end with two dog bowls and a pot filler for easy top-ups. Marble and mosaic tile protect the wooden island and floor from sloshing water.



3. Removable Inset Cutting Board

Owners of beautiful edge-grain wooden island countertops might think twice about using them as cutting surfaces. New Orleans-based NOLA Boards, which made this T-shaped one from century-old cypress logs pulled from the bottom of a river, addressed that reluctance by insetting a designated cutting board. It’s made from the same sinker cypress wood but in end-grain block construction, which shows knife marks less readily and is easier on blades than edge-grain. The best part? The board is removable, making cleanup, maintenance and serving a breeze.

Design note: The long end of this T-shaped island is supported by hand-turned legs, making it look more like a farmhouse table than cabinetry.

Mannino Cabinetry
4. Charging Drawer

A tangle of cords and small electronics atop an island is unattractive — and can spell disaster if there’s a spill. A charging drawer outfitted with plugs and outlets (like this one built by Mannino Cabinetry in New Jersey) not only keeps the counter clear and your devices safe, but also heads off that “Where’s my phone?” panic each morning.


5.  Laptop Ledge

Kitchen islands often serve as homework stations and home offices as well. Similar to the charging drawer in the previous photo, the slim open shelf beneath the countertop of this Maryland island by M Woodruff Design has outlets at the back so the owners can easily charge and stow their laptops. Drawers at one end of the island store paper and other office supplies.
Toledo Geller
6. Rollout Chopping Station

Here’s another chopping block hack: A cutting board with storage and legs on casters tucks into one end of this kitchen island designed by Toledo Geller, Crimson Capital and Signature Cabinetry. In addition to providing a useful work surface wherever needed, the station can function as a serving cart too.


White Birch Design, LLC
7. Folding Countertop

In this small-ish Minneapolis kitchen, White Birch Design created a walnut-topped island that has two drop-down leaves. Fully extended, they create a 6-foot-long island.

Design note: If your island is relatively small, putting it on locking casters (like this one) lets you change your kitchen layout or move your island out of the way with your fingertips — especially practical in a small kitchen.



8. Pullout Table

In this contemporary Seattle kitchen, Board & Vellum architects installed a table that pulls out from the island like a drawer. Extended, as seen here, it adds extra dining and counter space, whereas pushing it in allows for better circulation around the island.
ArchiUS Architecture + Design
9. Pop-Up Outlet

This Seattle-area kitchen island designed by ArchiUS has an outlet right where you need it, on top of the counter. Designed to be in wet environments, pop-up outlets like this one — some of which also have USB ports — can be raised when you need them but are flush or semiflush with the counter when closed, lending a seamless look.

Design note: Be sure to check local electrical codes before installing outlets on your island.
NEXUS 21
10. Pop-Up TV

While we’re on the pop-up topic, check out this pop-up TV in Phoenix by Nexus 21. It’s oriented toward diners, but it could just as easily be installed so the chef could follow along with a favorite cooking show while preparing a meal.
F1 Cabinets and Furniture
11. Mixer Lift

Extracting a heavy mixer from a bottom shelf can be a pain in the neck, not to mention the back. F1 Cabinets and Furniture installed a mixer lift in the island of this Arizona kitchen that allows the homeowner to lift the mixer out and up with ease. Installing an outlet in the back of the cabinet makes the feature even handier.

Design note: This design could be handy for just about any bulky small appliance, including food processors and blenders.
Innovative Construction Inc.
12. Paper Towel Dispenser

Speaking of handy, frequent paper towel users will appreciate this feature in an Atlanta kitchen by Innovative Construction. The homeowner can grab a single paper towel from the front roll when the drawer is closed and store extra rolls behind it.

Read kitchen storage tips
Popularis Construction Inc
13. Beer Tap

We’ve all seen beverage fridges and wine racks in kitchen islands. But how about a built-in suds dispenser? Popularis Construction made pulling a pint a cinch by equipping the island of this Massachusetts kitchen with a beer tap system.



14. Heated Countertop

Stone and quartz countertops can feel uncomfortably cold to the touch, especially on chilly mornings. Designer Martha O’Hara solved that problem in her Minneapolis home, seen here, by installing a heating element like one typically used in radiant-heat floors.
Centered Interiors
15. Set-In Composting Bin

Do you chop vegetables at your island, then have to transport the dripping scraps across the kitchen? Save yourself a step and a mess with an under-counter composting bin. Designed by Mary Culbertson and Susan Haggblom of Centered Interiorsthis Indiana kitchen’s island has a round steel in-counter bin set into the quartz countertop.

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