What are the Different Types of Kitchen Island Cabinetry?

Sheri Cyprus

The different types of kitchen island cabinetry include open and closed shelving units as well as drawers. The combinations of shelves and drawers in kitchen island units are almost endless. Practically all varieties of wood are used for island cabinetry, as it typically is designed to match other kitchen cabinets.

Practically all varieties of wood can be used for kitchen cabinetry.
Practically all varieties of wood can be used for kitchen cabinetry.

Cupboards in kitchen island units often feature drawers under the counter top and shelving below them. On one of the ends of the kitchen island, it's common for there to be open shelving to display kitchenware or cookbooks. The other end may feature useful storage accessories such as a kitchen towel bar or hooks or it may have more shelving or a wine rack. Some kitchen island cabinetry includes a wine refrigerator.

Kitchen islands can often include wine racks.
Kitchen islands can often include wine racks.

While some kitchen islands have mostly closed door shelving, others are mainly made up of different sized drawers. Some cooks prefer the ease of finding kitchen food preparation utensils, bowls and other items within drawers rather than having to crouch down to lower cupboard level and dig around at the back of shelves to get these. Having two rows of kitchen island cabinetry makes the shelves less deep, but the items need to be reached from eye level while the drawer storage method allows the cook to look down and see them.

Some types of kitchen island cabinetry feature glass rather than solid doors. More rustic cabinetry may not have any doors at all, but rather consist of open shelves. As country style kitchen decors often use many accent pieces, this type of cabinetry on an island allows plenty of room to display them.

A kitchen island may only have cabinetry on one of its longer sides if there is a breakfast bar counter attached to the other side. These types of kitchen islands offer room for bar stools to provide extra seating. A rolling kitchen island is usually smaller than other kinds, so the cabinetry on these models is usually limited to just a few cupboards and/or drawers.

Sliding door kitchen island cabinetry designs can be an excellent choice for smaller kitchens as they take up less room. Regular, hinged cupboard doors on a pantry may block a kitchen pathway when they are opened in a smaller kitchen. This may be a problem if the kitchen is a high traffic area. With sliding door kitchen island type of cabinetry, this problem is avoided.

Kitchen islands can be almost any size, and may provide a large amount of storage and workspace.
Kitchen islands can be almost any size, and may provide a large amount of storage and workspace.

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Discussion Comments


I know cabinets are traditionally made of wood-- the good ones anyway. But if you really want to brighten up a kitchen then I think glass cabinets are a really good choice. I'm not talking about wood cabinets with glass doors. I mean cabinets with glass fronts, backs and sides.

Any natural light that is coming into the room is able to pass through the cabinets. This is even better when you have a kitchen that is open to a sitting room or a dining room. You can also add glass kitchen carts and islands so that everything matches nicely.


The house we recently bought is an old country farm house. We got a great price, partly because it was a foreclosure and partly because the house needed repairs and updating. One of the rooms we knew we would definitely want to change immediately was the kitchen.

This room had great wood cabinets that the previous owners had custom built. As a rule I love wood, but the cabinets didn't work in our kitchen. They were dark and the room was dark. As my girlfriend said, the room was depressing. It was definitely not a place you would want to spend a lot of time.

Anyway, we put in new tile flooring, painted the walls a bright yellow in place of the dark green and painted the cabinets. In my family, painting wood is one of the deadly sins, but that's what we did. My girlfriend painted them white and they look great.

The kitchen is small, but we were able to get a small wood island to one side. Custom kitchen islands and cabinets can make any kitchen look like a picture from a magazine. The kitchen is now the most attractive room in our house.

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