Portable kitchen island ideas – mobile islands for flexible storage

Want versatility and style? Feast on these gorgeous portable kitchen island ideas...

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a white portable island with open shelving for crockery and pans
(Image credit: Ikea)

A portable kitchen island offers both space and practicality – it's also more versatile than its static counterpart.

And the best part is that there are so many different styles to choose from when it comes to kitchen ideas

Whether it's a farmhouse table which can be picked up and moved aside or an industrial-style island trolley with wheels – you’ll find something to suit your interior space and personal taste.

Portable kitchen island ideas

If you are looking for kitchen island ideas for a flexible kitchen layout – whether a large room that you want to open up or divide, depending on your needs, or a small space that might need occasional extra countertop space – the answer might be to go mobile. Here are our favorite portable kitchen island ideas.

1. Add wheels for a flexible mobile island

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a small pink portable kitchen island with a built in wine rack

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Islands with wheels are great for moving out the way to create more floor space in a kitchen, not to mention they are super practical for storing bits or offering extra surface area for cooking. 

They’re pretty ideal for smaller kitchens when space is limited, as they can be switched around the room, and they are a great option if you have kids who might want the extra floor space once in a while. 

2. Go semi-portable 

A black kitchen island with wooden bar stools and gray pendant lights

(Image credit: Neptune)

A semi-portable kitchen island is often known as a piece that can be moved but doesn’t have wheels. They are a good choice for people who might want to move their island occasionally, but not frequently, and are usually sturdier and larger than ones with wheels. 

If you are going for this option, your kitchen island lighting will need to be well thought-out and flexible, too, so that the lights can be raised or adjusted to suit the mobile island's new position.

3. Make a statement

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a narrow portable island in a kitchen with low level pendant lights

(Image credit: Future/David Parmiter)

A portable kitchen island can also be used to make a statement in your space by contrasting with the rest of the room. There are a number of ways this can be achieved, like choosing to make it a different color, or opting for more of an industrial style within a classic kitchen. 

Or, you could merge the old and new by adding an antique table island.

4. Incorporate a breakfast bar

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a white island with mis-matched wooden bar stools

(Image credit: Future/Brent Darby)

Why not double up your kitchen island as a breakfast bar? It’s a handy way to create more seating areas in a room, especially if you're limited with space. 

Some portable islands are designed with lipped edges so that kitchen island seating ideas, such as bar stools, can be neatly tucked underneath. Alternatively, this also works well if you’re using a table as a kitchen island.

5. Go with a farmhouse table

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a farmhouse kitchen inspired portable island in a kitchen with beams

(Image credit: Future)

Farmhouse kitchen island ideas needn't be traditionally chunky – you could opt for a moveable island in the same style to match. It gives a lovely vintage feel to the space and there are lots out there that are made with reclaimed wood, so you're doing your bit for the planet as well. 

Some have wheels, some have shelves – there are so many varieties to choose when you dive down the 'farmhouse aesthetic' route.

6. Use levels for extra storage

A white kitchen with a wooden doorway leading onto an outdoor dining space

(Image credit: Future/Richard Powers)

We’re a fan of any piece of furniture that can double up as storage space and many portable kitchen islands boast shelves, cupboards and more. So there’s extra room to stash away kitchen appliances, crockery and even food that doesn't need to go in the fridge. 

The modern kitchen island idea shown above will look fabulous in industrial style kitchens, but can easily slip seamlessly into more traditional spaces if made from timber.

7. Opt for an industrial finish

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing a wooden kitchen unit with drawers and a built in sink next to a trolley

(Image credit: Ikea)

Give your kitchen a contemporary edge with an industrial finish – this can be through metal shelves, baskets, or legs. A mobile island with a wooden top with metal legs and body underneath is a look that’s cropping up more and more. Or mix and match with wood and metal, to dip your toe in the trend.

8. Use shelves for your cookery books

A small, cream portable kitchen island with shelving for books and a wooden worktop

(Image credit: Cotswold Company)

A portable kitchen island with open shelves can be a visually pleasing set-up for your cookery books. Line them all up in a row (and color coordinate them if you want to go the extra mile) or style them in piles, like how you would on a coffee table. 

The design will make your kitchen look incredibly put-together, even on slightly messier days.

9. Use a compact option in a smaller space

An example of portable kitchen island ideas showing small wooden islands with shelves and wheels

(Image credit: Ikea)

You might think that a smaller kitchen isn't the place for an island but, in fact, the exact opposite true. 

A portable kitchen island can be a life-saver in a more compact space, as it provides an additional workspace plus extra storage. It can also be moved to wherever it's needed, so it's a flexible solution for smaller rooms.

There's also a misconception that kitchen islands have to be huge – there are a plethora of pint-sized ones out there that do the job just as well, so it is perfectly possible to find the right kitchen island size for almost any space. 

Also, don't forget you can get tall islands rather than wide ones, which take up less floor space. Here, two side-by-side create the classic rectangle of the kitchen island, but can easily be separated if needed.

10. Try one that doubles up as bar storage

A metal storage trolley in the corner of a white kitchen

(Image credit: Future)

Drinks' trolleys have become wildly popular over the past few years, so if you're limited on space but still want to have one in your home, an island with bar features built in could be the perfect solution. 

Some options have hooks to hang glasses, wine racks and cupboards for spirits already built into them, so whatever your boozy needs, there will be a style to suit.

11. Build open shelving into a portable island

A white portable kitchen island with open shelving for crockery and pans

(Image credit: Ikea)

Portable kitchen islands tend to be lighter in construction purely so that they are moveable. However, that doesn't mean you can't include useful storage. 

For a neat finish, choose open shelving that's visible from just one side of the kitchen – usually the working side of the kitchen – rather than shelves that are visible from all four sides. Inserting baskets rather than single items will allow you to access smaller items stored inside.

12. Create a flexible peninsula with a portable kitchen island

A gray portable kitchen island with simple black bar stools in a kitchen with herringbone flooring

(Image credit: Ikea)

The beauty of a portable kitchen island is its flexibility, so you can use it as freestanding furniture to create a traditional kitchen island or push it against a wall to create a peninsula. 

If this flexible approach is something you want to rely on regularly, putting the island on wheels will be worthwhile.  

How much are portable kitchen islands?

Portable kitchen islands come in a plethora of styles and prices vary from retailer to retailer. It’s possible to get a kitchen island on wheels for under $137/£100 but the higher the quality of the materials, the more the price will go up. 

How do I style my portable island?

You can style a portable island in a number of ways, especially if you have open shelves and storage compartments. On the top of the portable kitchen island you can use vases, bowls or other decorative pieces, while lower storage sections can be used for crockery, cookery books or other kitchen knick knacks.

Are kitchen islands moveable?

Yes, mobile kitchen islands are moveable. When you’re designing your kitchen it’s important to consider if you want an island to stay where it is permanently or have more flexibility with a portable one. 

These moveable islands don’t feature plumbing, electricity or gas; they are usually tables, trollies or units on wheels.

Jennifer Ebert

Jennifer is the Digital Editor at Homes & Gardens. Having worked in the interiors industry for a number of years, spanning many publications, she now hones her digital prowess on the 'best interiors website' in the world. Multi-skilled, Jennifer has worked in PR and marketing, and the occasional dabble in the social media, commercial and e-commerce space. Over the years, she has written about every area of the home, from compiling design houses from some of the best interior designers in the world to sourcing celebrity homes, reviewing appliances and even the odd news story or two.