10 portable kitchen island ideas that are perfect for streamlining your space

Try these expert-approved portable kitchen island ideas are stylish and smart

Portable kitchen island ideas like this small one with open sides and wooden shelving are so useful. Behind, a brick feature wall can be seen along with white cottage style cabinets can be seen with bronze fixtures.
(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Portable kitchen island ideas are the perfect solution to small cooking spaces that still want all the style and function that a built-in island has to offer. 

We've asked designers for their favorite ways to bring these kinds of kitchen islands into the space. From useful workstations to savvy storage solutions, there is plenty to inspire.

Whether you're renting or just want more versatility, these kitchen island ideas with freedom to move are chic and convenient. 

Portable kitchen island ideas to wheel into your space

Portable islands are especially brilliant as an option for small kitchen islands and narrow kitchen islands. This is because more compact spaces benefit from multi functional furniture pieces like kitchen island carts.

Our design experts have suggested various cart styles throughout, which we have curated matching buys for to help you get the look.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article.

1. Open the space up with a utility island

A white kitchen with a small kitchen island with an open wooden shelf, white kitchen cabinets around it, and a brown brick wall with a white wood hanging above the silver oven

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

The size of a kitchen island can make or break a space. If your kitchen doesn’t have enough room for a built-in island unit, you can opt for a utility island to help you make the most of your space.

"Similar to a regular kitchen island, they work by increasing workspace, adding a storage area and expanding the overall visual real estate of your kitchen, which can translate into dollars earned when you sell," explains Jessica Rae Sommer, senior creative director at Maverick Design.

"They also offer a connection point and gathering space where people can congregate comfortably when entertaining," she adds.

If you're looking for a quick and budget-friendly solution, the Amazon Basics Utility Kitchen Cart is a great buy at just under $40 and is perfect for minimalist kitchen islands.

2. Let your island roam free on wheels

A pink freestanding kitchen island with wine bottles underneath it and white cabinets behind it

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Give yourself as much flexibility as possible by choosing a kitchen island on wheels that moves super easily.

“The mobility of a kitchen island cart will allow you to position it wherever and whenever you need additional workspace,” says Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

Especially handy in smaller spaces where space is limited, mobile kitchen trolleys allow you to free up precious floor footage in a nifty nudge, to suit the task.

3. DIY one with crates

A portable rustic-industrial kitchen island on wheels with blue and gray bowls above it and beneath it and a staircase and window behind it

(Image credit: Graham & Green)

Go for farmhouse kitchen island ideas by creating your own versatile storage island handcrafted from recycled wood, on vintage-style castor wheels for easy movability.

“Bring warmth and charm to your kitchen with a rustic wooden island, which is ideal for those decorating cottage-style kitchens,” Nina says. 

We love the idea of pairing it up with bold bowls and cookware (Our Place's Perfect Pot would bring a gorgeous color pop) to give it a real boho look.

4. Incorporate a breakfast bar

A kitchen with dark blue cabinets, white countertops with a toaster and fruit bowl on it, or a curved white kitchen island with a glass vase with brown stems and two dark blue velvet bar stools

(Image credit: Simon Taylor Furniture)

Get the most use from your portable kitchen island with a combination design that incorporates kitchen island seating ideas, turning it into a useful breakfast bar.

“One approach I like to use is picking contrasting materials and colors to create visual interest,” explains Jonathan Faccone, design expert and founder of HALO Homebuyers.

For a touch of luxe, add velvet bar stools like the Etta Avenue Layken Stools from Wayfair.

5. Choose a compact design with ample storage

A teal blue kitchen island with wooden shelves underneath with books and white bowls underneath it and a chopping board on top

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

A portable kitchen island can become even more useful if you choose one with kitchen island storage solutions.

Nina says, “Enhance organization and efficiency with a portable kitchen island cart equipped with drawers for storing utensils, linens, and kitchen gadgets. The drawers keep essentials neatly tucked away while providing quick access during meal preparation.”

For example, this Red Barrel Studio Kitchen Cart from Wayfair has drawers and spacious cabinets.

6. Bring in tactile texture with natural materials

Bamboo console table with artisanal wooden boards, glass storage jars and reactive glaze-ware canisters

(Image credit: Bloomingville)

Celebrate the beauty of imperfection with a portable kitchen island cart made from bamboo or natural materials, rich in grain and pattern. 

A freestanding bamboo design will add warmth to a space, breaking up uniformed cabinetry, whilst being lightweight to easily move as, if and when desired. 

Adorn your natural island with a plethora of artisanal wooden boards (we like the Brabantia Chopping Board from Saks), glass storage jars and reactive glaze-ware canisters, to create a sustainably focused focal point that’s as beautiful as it is functional.

7. Repurpose a secondhand furniture piece

A reclaimed wood butcher's block kitchen island with light, grainy finish and a woven basket below it

(Image credit: Modish Living)

Elevate your kitchen ideas and design scheme with a sturdy, beautifully built and made-to-last antique with a story to tell. 

A gloriously grainy, reclaimed wood butchers block will work in kitchens of all shapes and sizes, adding chunky charm and textural interest. 

“A butcher block kitchen island cart also provides a versatile surface for food preparation and serving,” adds Nina. 

You can consider upcycling or repurposing a pre-loved item of furniture that you already have or even get one from one of the best secondhand furniture stores.

For instance, a wooden dresser or slim table with drawers can make a lovely, improvised movable kitchen island. 

8. Integrate a pet bed into your island

A gray kitchen with a freestanding kitchen island with built-in pet bed with a dog on it and kitchen cabinets around ir

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

They’re around our feet twenty-four-seven, especially when there are potential tip-bits to be had, so why not treat your favorite furball to a resting retreat to await their rewards in crumbs?

Bringing one of the best pet beds into your kitchen island can work as a space-saving option, as well as providing a cozy place for your four-legged friend to relax. For example, the Bedsure Dog Bed from Amazon has over 30,000 five-star reviews.

9. Combine a wine rack into your island

A dark blue butcher's block with built-in wine rack, books underneath it, and a tall blue cabinet behind it

(Image credit: Cotswold Co.)

We can’t all afford the luxury or space of a wine cellar, but for more modest, sociable homes that love to entertain and appreciate the finer things in life, a portable kitchen island cart that packs a whole lot of storage into a small footprint, ticks a lot of boxes. 

Nina explains, “Choose a cart with built-in wine racks, stemware holders, and a spacious top for mixing drinks and serving appetizers. This cart is perfect for hosting gatherings and adding a touch of sophistication to your kitchen or dining area.”

Opt for a design that thoughtfully integrates a whole range host of options, including a drawer to organize kitchen utensils, a wine rack, and an under-shelf for all of those cookbooks.

10. Choose contrasting colors and textures

A light green small kitchen island with a wooden surface and jars underneath it, white walls, white wooden floor, and a wooden table to the right

(Image credit: Cox & Cox)

A portable kitchen island featuring contrasting colors will definitely stand out from the crowd in an industrial style kitchen

Choose a design with open shelves to happily fill with treasured cookware and beloved books, creating an attractive display and rustic highlight in any home. 

You could even create a contrasting look with a more luxe design, such as with marble kitchen island ideas.

And, if you fancy switching things up through the shifting seasons, simply wheel your utilitarian hero from the kitchen to the hallway or utility room.

FAQs

What is a portable kitchen island?

Portable or movable kitchen island carts add extra counter space and storage solutions to any kitchen. 

Islands on wheels or freestanding islands can be repositioned to specific needs and space requirements, as and when required.

What portable island options are best for small kitchens?

In smaller spaces and compact kitchens, a butcher's block or utility trolley can provide the same functionality as a fixed kitchen island, but on a much smaller footprint. Choose a design with built-in storage solutions so that you can utilize space and maximize use.

Portable kitchen islands are a fantastic, multifunctional option in smaller kitchens where space is limited and a flexible configuration is favored. 


Portable kitchen island carts are versatile, stylish, and practical additions to modern kitchens, offering a range of design options to suit your lifestyle.

“Don’t overlook the ability of kitchen island carts to transform your kitchen into a functional and inviting space for cooking, dining, and entertaining,” Nina finishes by saying.

They’re also a great vehicle for bringing in the best kitchen island trends.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.

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