Try This Stylish Solution To Create More Counter Space In Your Kitchen

If HGTV shows are any indication, a homeowner being satisfied with their kitchen island is less likely than quantum tunneling. In some ways, a kitchen island is the heart of a room that itself is the heart of the home, and it's burdened with both aesthetic and functional requirements. For many, custom islands are prohibitively expensive, but if you can make do with a generically functional alternative (and if your taste admits the non-traditional), an industrial island might be the way to go. The industrial aesthetic never quite goes out of style, works with just about any eclectic or modern vibe, and is often a comparatively cheap option.

The cost of a traditional kitchen island depends on where you shop, but the average price of a 4-foot island sits between $3,000 and $5,000. Add a range hood, oven, sink, and dishwasher, and you might be better off buying a new house. The prescribed size of your kitchen addition depends on your symptoms: If you're feverish for a monster-sized island, you'll want something bigger than the average of 6 feet by 3 feet, but for a small area, something closer to the size of a kitchen cart (say, 42 inches by 24 inches) might be just what the doctor ordered. As for height, an island typically matches that of a kitchen's counter.

Off-the-shelf industrial kitchen islands

While store-bought industrial islands might lack the excitement of more recent kitchen island innovations, commercial restaurant prep tables like this Economy Stainless Steel Worktable (72" x 30", $375) nonetheless make great, functional kitchen islands. These tables can be rather narrow, however, and they aren't always the best choice for adding counter space. Another rich industrial-island vein is the factory assembly table, like this Mobile Steel Assembly Table with Bottom Shelf (60" x 36", $595). Take note, though: If you're considering an island that wasn't designed for food prep, check if its work and storage surfaces are food-safe. If not, you'll have to either cover them, replace them, or pass.

A few brands specialize in industrial home furnishings and offer products that are either intended to serve as kitchen islands or will work in a pinch. These brands include Seville, maker of the Stainless Steel Rolling Workcenter (48" x 24", $419.99) and Duramax, which makes the Modern Acacia Brown Console Table (72" x 24", $803.39). Some companies' idea of an industrial kitchen island transcends vintage and more closely resembles a turn-of-the-century mineshaft. You'll recognize these items by their thick cast iron (or approximated cast iron) strapping and unusual hardware, like the Kabili Distressed Tobacco Kitchen Cart (57" x 22", $1,117.79) or the smaller, quainter Kitchen Cart from Decorn (48" x 20", $1,949).

Vintage and DIY industrial kitchen islands

The DIY route to an industrial kitchen island can be surprisingly familiar if you've ever shopped for a new model. One option is to install butcher block on old, galvanized food prep table frames and vintage work tables. These can get quite large and are often a trendy way for your kitchen island to double as a dining table. Galvanized steel isn't food-safe, but food prep tables with galvanized frames tend to have stainless steel tops.

Once you commit to building your own island, the sky's the limit (or 35 inches — whichever comes first). At such great heights, you have access to the standard array of countertops: quartz, granite, marble, butcher block, or whatever strikes your fancy. A stainless steel top is, of course, always an option if you can find one (or find someone to fabricate one at a reasonable price). All of these are options because the heart of an industrial island isn't the top, it's the frame. Just as you can work industrial miracles in music with a synthesizer and a drum machine, you can work industrial miracles on your kitchen island with black iron gas pipes and big ol' casters. Galvanized chain link fence posts also communicate this vibe, and while cast iron can, it doesn't always.