kitchens without islands

Remember this post from Monday? The entire layout of that kitchen, and my discussion with my friend Andrea, kind of got me on this whole no-island-bandwagon-brigade-parade.

Yes, I did just make that up. Yes, I did get a little carried away. But nonetheless, I’m kind of obsessed with the concept, and thought I’d find a few inspirational photos… No surprise here, they were kind of hard to find. But here’s what I was able to rustle up! Near and dear to my heart is this antique drafting table as an island. Swoonage.

Honestly, the idea of a sans-island layout, kind of stresses me out, because I use mine so much for a painting, or packing lunches, and everything in between…so I think it may just depend on the layout of the kitchen, clever use of space, and getting used to the entire concept…but WOW, This may be my favorite kitchen table+chairs combo EV. HER. I mean, fifty years ago, they did much more in the kitchen than I ever dream of doing, and they got along just fine…so I think its something worth exploring.

These herringbone floors with that lantern, are quite frankly, faint worthy.


Upon closer inspection of this photo, I think I see an island lingering in the back. We’ll just pretend as though it doesn’t have one…and the kitchen looks pretty swell.


Technically, this is an island. More like a hybrid island. I just (of course) am drooling over those beams and that tile..and those lanterns…yep-I’ll take the whole shebang.

This light is certainly different…It reminds me of Chemistry class. Some of these spaces feel a little crowded…and I know you do what you can, in a space. But I feel like the key to pulling this concept off well, is to make it feel and look spacious. The rooms that look the best with this are wide enough to carry it well. To make it feel like a conscious choice rather than oh look, we didn’t have an option, so we shoved fifty chairs in here. The spaces that are the most successful with this, I think, are the ones that carry it well. Like finding the right dress to flatter your body type.

Yes, technically, this is an island. Which could also double as a table…

I’m in love with this table. 

This kitchen is amazing. And those chairs would hold up for precisely 1.5 seconds after my children saw them. One word. Ketchup.

This is a bit of a hybrid design of table + island. But isn’t that wood marvelous?

I love the clean, mixed with the distressed and layered. Yes please.

I’ll take that amazing ceiling…

Here’s another ‘hybrid’ version but I like the idea of these two, together. Super functional.


There’s something about the combo of that natural table with the glitz of that chandy.


I don’t really care if it’s considered trendy. I want open shelving. via


yes, please. 

So there you have it. Quite a few inspiring photos for you to feast your eyes upon. So spill it + tell me: do you have a kitchen island? How about your table smack dab in the center of the kitchen? Do you think they’re essential? With three kids, I almost think that they are, but it also depends on the function of yours-does it double as a bar area for people to sit? What are your thoughts? I’d love to hear…and see!

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Responses to kitchens without islands

  1. Brie says:

    Love this idea! Such a good use of space.

  2. Cait says:

    I really just want to sit at my computer all day and scroll through these endlessly. Can that be a job I get paid for? Love love love these! My parents recently re-purposed some old furniture to create their own larger taller island and I LOVE the concept.

  3. Elz says:

    I love these kitchens. My kitchen is such a conundrum to me. I have a long kitchen, which is cut in half by two doorways opposite each other, so I feel like I have to keep that middle clear for foot traffic… but that means it’s too tight for an island and it only has room for a tiny table on the other side :( I’ve considered trying to do a peninsula thingy by my cabs are an L shape against a blank wall and the peninsula would have to be on the blank wall. That would look weird. Oh well, we can dance in the center I guess!

  4. Helen says:

    I think it totally depends on your floor plan as to what’s going to work for what you need to be able to do with your space.

    Ditto on the “chemistry chandelier” and open shelves!!

  5. heyruthie says:

    i was (and am) inpressed with how John and Sherry (YHL) bucked the island trend when they realized the shape of their kitchen didn’t warrant one. At first I thought, “What?? No island??” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized what a sucker for trends I am, and how it’s much smarter to use your space wisely, than do what everyone else says is THE thing to do…..their new kitchen with a *gasp* penninsula is looking so good.

  6. Sarah says:

    I do not have an island, nor do I have a kitchen that lends itself to having an island. It’s one of those old-fashioned square eat-in kitchen that isn’t open to anything except a hallway/the deck. We do have a lot of counter space for prep/project, so I get along just find without an island. Our table sits in the center of the room and I actually find it pretty cozy.

    I think I would like to have a kitchen with a more open concept with an island, but it’s just not going to happen in this crazy house we currently own without serious and expensive remodeling

  7. Sarah says:

    I’ve never had an island. I grew up in a house with a square-ish kitchen, and my parents had an old round iron table w/ a wood top in the middle of it that came from an old ice cream parlor. It sat 4 people & we’d have most of our meals there, even though we did have a nice big dinning room table one room over. Now I have a galley kitchen, so there’s no room for an island or a table… so sad.

  8. Lisa says:

    I have always thought islands were a waste of space….To bad, my last 4 houses have all had them…HAHA! Great ideas and thanks for the inspiration!

  9. Tracie says:

    I’ve never had an island before this house and I would never go back. All that workspace is NECESSARY and I like having the sitters across from me while I’m working on things. My island is open and has two shelves underneath for storage and I MAY in the future swap it out for cabinetry to eliminate the visual clutter – maybe, because it’s down low and not too noticeable. In a pinch I’d also be fine with a counter height “table” – it’s the workspace that’s important. I couldn’t deal with a normal height table because the bending over would hurt my back.

  10. Jami Nato says:

    the wooden table with the wig back chairs = incredible.

  11. Helena says:

    Oooh, I LOVE these! What a great collection of pictures!

  12. Lisa says:

    No island. I’ve never had one. I have a half wall that I’ve considered turning into a bar area, but kind of like the separation and the fact that guests can’t see the mess in the kitchen.

  13. I want to live in EVERY SINGLE ONE of those kitchens ! They make me want to redo my kitchen again! :) Jessica (aka nucheysmommy)

  14. Catherine says:

    You find the most beautiful pics!! I think that replacing a table for an island smack dab in the middle of the kitchen would take up too much room, though. By the time all the chairs were out or people were at them, wouldn’t it be difficult to get by? And don’t the chairs make the table space less convenient to work on than an island? And too low? Don’t get me wrong, these kitchens are gorgeous, but I wouldn’t swap out an island for a table and chairs. Maybe the really long one with chairs only on one side…

  15. Courtney says:

    oh my. you are hysterical. i love your writing! :) and pretty much every photo. we don’t have an island. to0 tiny oh kitchen. hopefully in the next house.

  16. Love it! In many of the photos you shared functionality is not lost, but gained!

  17. Julie says:

    Love these! My husband and I recently looked at an old farm site. The kitchen is not really functional. It has a range, a refrigerator, and one cabinet with a sink (kind of like you find in a bathroom). There is no counter space. There is a beautiful, built in oak cabinet for storing dishes. I thought the house would never do because of the kitchen… but these photos are making me rethink. It could work!

  18. Helene says:

    I don’t have a kitchen island. My kitchen is 24 X 11. I have ten children and we need an eight foot kitchen table (at least) so there is not much room for an island after that. I never had an island so maybe part of my survival is I don’t know what I’m missing? But I just use the table for everything an island could serve for. I think an island would clutter up what free space the kitchen has and I’m afraid it would be more in the way than helpful. Thanks for these gorgeous pictures! Makes me feel more “normal”!!!! Ha!

  19. Louise says:

    Love these! I was watching The Walking Dead with my husband the other day and they showed this kitchen. I loved it. It was an old farm house with cabinetry all aroudn and a nice large farm house table in the middle. I don’t remember much about the episode except for this kitchen. I have been thinking about it and thinking about it. I’d love to have an eat in kitchen all of a sudden! No island, just a table. Then I see this post! It’s not just me!! :)

  20. Melanie says:

    I grew up in an eat-in kitchen, and my current home is the same. The room is open to the living room on one side, and open to the deck on the other, so you need to walk through the middle of it. The larger side houses a round table that seats the 4 of us, but can extend to seat 6. It’s cozy and could never accommodate an island or peninsula. Many of my friends have huge kitchens with islands, but those that are “homeliest” are those that have the dining table just the other side of the island.

  21. robyn says:

    I just tore down a wall in between my kitchen and living area, and this was really great info to use to think about my decision as I was thinking originally about an island but would like to go more with maybe extra cabinets/counter against one wall where the table in near and then put the table smack in the middle of it all, I will send some pics..would love some advice as this kitchen/eating area is very very small….and I really like more unique than predictable…my husband thinks I am going to go to unique for resale……thanks for the pics!

  22. Cynthia says:

    Funny to find this article and pics, and very grateful. My husband and I are remodeling our kitchen and he loves (insists) on having the table in the middle. Since we may sell the house, I think that an island is a selling point to consider, but fear that if there isn’t room for formal dining somewhere else, an island is out of the question. Having seen these pictures I feel better about NOT adding an island and staging the house with a dinner table in the middle of the kitchen – it has a cozy, family oriented feel and we can continue to use the other room as a den/office instead of a formal dining room. Thanks!