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The purpose of this buying guide is to help you find the very best kitchen island for your lifestyle.

Here are links to the complete guide:

Since kitchen islands tend to be expensive, we also want to help you get the best one for your budget! If you like to spent a lot of time in your kitchen and want to maximize space, a cheap kitchen island can give you a lot of return for your investement.

If you haven’t yet, we recommend you go read the earlier parts of our buying guide:

Part 1: Types of Kitchen Islands
Part 2: Common Uses For Kitchen Islands
Part 3: Logistics and Spacing In Your Kitchen

And now Part 4: Features and More – All the other little extra things to consider when shopping for kitchen islands


how to buy a kitchen island


Storage Options

If storage option is among the top features that you are looking for even in cheap kitchen islands, you must specifically seek this design on the model you highly consider. Storage space may be in the form of (1) open-tiered shelves which work great in providing quick access to pots and pans as they do not have doors that may cause foot traffic especially in small kitchens and (2) cupboards which serve well in hiding clutter of your kitchen items. Note that cupboards are usually present in pricier kitchen islands and enough kitchen space must be regarded to accommodate opening of doors.

Doors or No Doors?

Speaking of storage: what about doors or no doors? Or a combination thereof?

Besides the different looks, this is also an important functional consideration. What do you plan to store in your kitchen island? Functional things that you may hide away like silverware? Or items that, regardless of function, also look good on display like a bowl of fruit or some cookbooks shelved vertically?

As far as function, go through the visualization exercise again and imagine how you would be using the items and retrieving and returning the items in your kitchen island storage. If the doors are a hassle, you may prefer the function of no doors over doors.

If you do look for doors, also make sure to plan the spacing accordingly in your kitchen.

The Winsome Wood Single Drawer Cart (left) is a small size kitchen cart with doors

The popular Linon Granite Top Kitchen Cart (right) without doors

Winsome Wood Single Drawer Storage Cart Kitchen Island Pic    Linon Granite Top Kitchen Island Pic

Countertop Material of the Kitchen Island

For a cabinetry unit, it may be ideal to consider granite or engineered quartz if it suits your budget since these are very well known to be longwearing enough to withstand heavy kitchen tasks. Corian is also known to be durable enough, but it is not as heat-resistant as the previous two materials.

If you are on a tight budget, laminate is a perfect choice as it comes in various colors and design and it is very easy to maintain. But it needs to be noted that laminate is not as durable or luxurious as the other previously stated materials. Stainless steel is another good option, requiring low maintenance while effectively showcasing an industrial look. It is also heat-resistant, but remember that it is not a cutting surface so ensure usage of chopping board when you have decided to go for this countertop material.

Layout of the Kitchen Island

The layout of your kitchen island will definitely affect one’s motivation in performing your kitchen chores. The layout should render this device enough functionality that will ensure optimum convenience to homeowners. Choose a layout that will best suit your preferences and will satisfy how you intend your kitchen island to serve you. In addition, you may need to reconfigure your overall kitchen design based on your kitchen island. For example, if you have decided to purchase a unit with installed sink, it is best to ensure that the dishwasher and trashcan are somehow located near it.

Drop Leaf

As mentioned in previous parts of the buying guide, a drop leaf is a foldable extension to increase the countertop space of your kitchen island. Downside? When folded down, it does not look as attractive as a normal kitchen island. Upside? Extended counterspace and sitting space. See pictured right a profile view of the Catskill Craftsmen Heart Of The Kitchen Island with Drop Leaf

Towel Racks

If you use your kitchen island for food preparation, towel racks are going to be an important part of your kitchen island. You can find them on the long side or short sides of your kitchen island so picture where your island will be in your kitchen, stand where you will likely stand to do your prep work, and then imagine reaching for a towel to wipe up a spill or wipe down your cutting board. This will differ from person to person – it’s a great visualization exercise to figure out where you will want your towel rack for your kitchen island.

For example:

The Coaster Home Furnishings Black Kitchen Island (left) has one on the left and under the counter. The Catskill Craftsmen Heart Of The Kitchen Island (middle) has one on each side, below countertop level. The Home Styles 5023-05 Kitchen Island (right) has a towel rack on the right side only at counter height.

Coaster Home Furnishings Black Granite Top Kitchen Island White Background Catskill Craftsmen Heart Of The Kitchen Island With Two Towel Bars

Quality Footing

As we mostly target discussion of rolling kitchen islands (these are both cheap kitchen islands and very stylish and functional), one part people often miss is the footing of the rolling kitchen island. We get so caught up in storage, style, and function that we forget that this is a mobile unit. While the kitchen island will often stay in the same place 95% of the time, there are times where you may want to rearrange the look of your kitchen or use your kitchen island as a traveling countertop and place of social interaction.

Recall there is a LOT of things going on with the kitchen island from food service to storage to food preparation to just being a station for activity. So very sturdy wheels for movement, casters for letting your kitchen island take a pounding, and solid brakes so the kitchen island won’t move when you don’t want it to. If shopping in person, give the kitchen island some nudges. When shopping online, check for rubber wheels with locks. Avoid plastic wheels. And check owner reviews out.

That Concludes Our “How To Buy A Kitchen Island” 4-part Buying Guide

Hopefully, this ““How to Buy a Kitchen Island”” has managed to provide you necessary details that will effectively help you in the process of your survey. It may seem to be a fearful task to carefully browse through several and countless kitchen islands. It may even get more daunting to consider the possibility that you may end up purchasing a unit that did not flawlessly suit your needs.

Just always remember to prioritize the features that are especially important to you and you will realize how fun your search can be. Do not forget to consider the appropriate design for your kitchen and the accompanying features of the kitchen island that will certainly provide you convenience. Just put all of these information in your mind and you will definitely find the best one for you.

Remember our links to the complete guide:

Thanks for reading!


  1. http://homerenovations.about.com/od/kitchenislands/a/SmallKitchenIslandBasics.htm
  2. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324449104578314033845548270.html
  3. http://www.overstock.com/guides/kitchen-island-buying-guide
  4. http://www.styleathome.com/kitchen-and-bath/buying-guides/buying-guide-kitchen-islands/a/34662
  5. http://www.thisoldhouse.com/toh/article/0,,599050,00.html
  6. http://www.interiormantra.com/kitchen-island-buying-guide
  7. http://www.housingzone.com/design/4-award-winning-tips-designing-kitchen-islands
  8. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/02/kitchen-island-buying-guide_n_1316357.html

Check out all our reviews and buying guides for quality cheap kitchen islands