We all know that one of the hallmarks of apartment living is having to deal with a smaller-than-average kitchen. And that’s stating it generously—if you live in New York City like I do, your kitchen may truly be minuscule, if you’re lucky enough to even have a super defined prep space at all! I took many virtual tours of apartments that featured mini-fridges or refrigerators positioned in the living room. We city gals have truly seen it all when it comes to cramped spaces.
Recently, though, I’ve noticed that many fellow apartment dwellers have gotten creative when it comes to optimizing their storage and prep space. The secret? Purchasing a freestanding kitchen island that looks chic enough to elevate even the most dated of kitchen spaces and is also ultra-functional. Below, we’re showing you five faux island setups that will make you want to purchase one of your own—because let’s face it, throwing together an entire meal or engaging in some therapeutic Sunday afternoon baking can prove pretty challenging when your only available countertop is approximately the size of a standard placemat.
1. Turn your island into a coffee station
Just because it’s called an island doesn’t mean that the piece you purchase has to be put in the middle of your kitchen—again, many of us don’t have the square footage or room layout for this to be a possibility. Instead, push your island up against a wall and turn it into a mini coffee bar or a place to stash bowls or fruit—you name it! By moving bulky coffee makers off of the main counter and giving them a designated home of their own, you’ll free up prep space close to the oven, which will definitely come in handy when cooking meals.
2. Or style it as a breakfast bar
If you’re not as concerned about counter space but are a bit more ambivalent about your seating situation, opt for an island with an overhang and style your own breakfast bar. Bonus points if the piece features storage cabinets on the other side; use these to tuck away unsightly appliances and bulky pots and pans.
3. Use an island to corral cooking essentials
Even a small kitchen cart can make a big impact. A piece like this one should be able to function in even the tiniest of cooking spaces and makes for a great place to set aside ingredients while cooking. There are always items that you need to keep nearby but can’t quite squeeze onto the countertop without risking a spill—we’ve been there.
4. Try this twist on the classic bar cart
Those looking for an ultra-functional twist on the traditional bar cart might want to source an island that offers plenty of wine glass storage. This makes for an ideal setup when entertaining, too—guests can easily serve themselves, and multiple people can gather around the island at once to fill their glasses.
5. Fill a narrow spot with a wooden piece
A thin wood console table can also serve a key purpose and is a great choice for long and narrow kitchens. Use it as a sit-down coffee bar and sip your morning cup of Joe somewhere that isn’t your stain-prone sofa!