Kitchen Island Or Kitchen Dining Table – Options Explored

You need something to help your kitchen function smarter. Should you pick up a new table or add a whole island?

In this post, I’ll explore the pros, cons and considerations of having a kitchen island or a kitchen table as part of your new kitchen design. So you can work out which one will best suit your needs and space.

Let’s get into it.

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Is It Better To Have A Kitchen Table Or Island?

It all depends on your lifestyle and how you expect the space to work in your home. For an open floorplan, the island helps to define your food preparation and entertainment spaces while adding storage space. A kitchen table may work better in a traditional floor plan, for younger children, for those that live with mobility challenges, or if you are shorter and will benefit from a lower work surface.

Kitchen Island

Kitchen island or kitchen table

You may imagine your new kitchen anchored by a gorgeous and expansive island. Before you start building, think about how your kitchen functions now and in the future.

Defining Living Spaces in an Open-Concept Home

Are you knocking down a wall between your kitchen and the dining area or the lounge? Placing an island in place of the wall helps to maintain that visible delineation of spaces. Perhaps your home was built in the 70s and the kitchen and eating areas are just one giant room–there is something missing. An island can be an architectural anchor that also provides function and purpose. In a small two-room flat, an island can serve as extra work and eating space while helping to hide the clutter.

Entertaining Guests while Preparing a Meal

Is your house or flat always overflowing with friends and family? Are you shouting from the enclosed kitchen to take orders for drinks or while chopping up a cheese board? With an island, you can face your guests while you fix up snacks or a tea tray. It helps to include the cook in all the fun.

Casual Dining Space for Your Small Family

How often do you and your spouse simply serve up a bowl of pasta or soup and stand around the kitchen to eat? Is your dining table actually a dumping ground for schoolbooks and laptops? An island can also provide seating (typically for two to six) depending on its size. Make a sandwich and slide it across to your child. It may be time to finally convert that dining space into a home office.

Improving the Work Triangle in a Vintage Kitchen

Did you buy a rambling farmhouse in a quaint village? Its kitchen may be cavernous with cabinets and cupboards lining the walls. At the same time, it feels like there is nowhere to chop veggies or mix up a cake. Build an island in the middle of the room and now there is somewhere to put down a pot, prepare food, and just make the room function properly. You can also add storage underneath for baking pans or to control the recycling bins.

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Pros of a Kitchen Island:

  • Extra workspace and storage options
  • Helps to define your contemporary open-concept floorplan
  • Great for entertaining
  • Can improve workflow in an older home
  • The answer to casual dining demands

Cons of a Kitchen Island:

  • Big item in the middle of a small kitchen
  • Little ones’ feet may dangle when sitting on the stools
  • Your whole kitchen is always on display
  • It can’t be moved once it’s in place

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Kitchen Dining Table

Kitchen with dining table instead of a kitchen island

You grew up in a busy house and life centred around that kitchen dining table. Is there really no room for a table in your modern kitchen? There is if it helps you get tonight’s dinner on the table.

The Perfect Height to Knead Bread and Chop Veggies

Kitchen islands are typically about 10-15 cm higher than tables. When wielding a knife or working up the gluten in a loaf of bread, having a surface that is a little lower can save your back. Sometimes a table is needed to mix cake batter or dress up a platter of appetisers.

A Comfortable Spot for a Cup of Tea

Is your neighbour always dropping by for some afternoon gossip? There is something sociable about sinking into a chair, leaning your elbows on the table, and settling in for a good chat. Besides, all the dirty dishes, the dog bowls and the jumble of boots and coats are nicely hidden behind the walls of your enclosed kitchen. There is no need to put a show on for tonight’s dinner guests.

Always Worked Well for Young and Old

Your toddlers like to feel grown-up when they climb into a chair to eat lunch. The stools by the island are a little too tall and have a tendency to fall over. Your ageing mum or dad will also be grateful to sink into a chair instead of stepping up to a stool. In fact, it seems like the kitchen table has served all types of families for centuries. Society must be on to something!

A Traditional Part of Traditional Kitchens

Are you rehabbing an older home with a massive farm kitchen? They were designed to be the heart of the home with room for all the pots, utensils, dishes, and the family. A table sat at the centre waiting for busy days of processing the harvest, feeding the baby, and even folding the laundry.

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 Pros of a Kitchen Table:

  • Right and proper furniture for an older large kitchen
  • Comfortable sitting height for young and old
  • More comfortable for longer periods of socialising
  • Good working height if you are a little shorter
  • Can be moved around (if needed)

Cons of a Kitchen Table:

  • No extra storage
  • Will move if you bump into it
  • Lower height may not suit taller users

Can You Use A Kitchen Island As A Dining Table?

Absolutely. Some large modern islands are designed to seat the whole family or your guests. Besides, more and more people are abandoning their dining tables for a more casual setting.

Having a kitchen island can be a fantastic multi purpose feature for any kitchen.

Kitchen island with built in dining table

Can You Use A Dining Table As A Kitchen Island?

Technically, yes. Position it in the centre of a large enclosed kitchen or as the dividing piece between the kitchen and lounge. Now you have a large space ready for food prep and service without needing any kind of demolition or construction.

Keep in mind that the height of a dining table will be lower than the height of your kitchen countertop. Great if you’re a little shorter, but for many, this may be a little too low to comfortably stand and work at.

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Final Thoughts…

There you have it. The pros, cons and considerations between having a kitchen island and a kitchen dining table.

There’s really no right or wrong answer. It’s about weighing up the benefits and features of each and deciding which will work best for you, your lifestyle and your kitchen space.

So, which one will you pick for your new kitchen, an island or a table?



Michael from

Michael is a kitchen designer from the UK. He's been designing and project managing new kitchen installations for over 10 years. Before that, he was an electrician and part of a team that fitted kitchens. He created Kitchinsider in early 2019 to help give people advice when it comes to getting a new kitchen.