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Photography by Aaron Bengochea

There’s nothing quite like a Nancy Meyers kitchen—the collection of heirloom pots and pans, the expansive cabinet space, and, of course, the pièce de résistance: the massive island that provides the perfect spot to enjoy a glass of Pinot Grigio or take a deep breath at the end of a long day. But there’s a reason why the celebrated director’s sets are such a fantasy—they’re not exactly realistic for most folks. However, even if you’re working with limited square footage, that doesn’t mean you can’t make the most of it—you just need a small kitchen island with storage.

Subtle shelves or drawers provide a space to tuck away your pantry overflow, cleaning supplies, or the small kitchen appliances you can’t bear to part with (looking at you, air fryer). Coming in a moderate size, small kitchen islands with storage also make for a great workstation—you can never have too much counter space, can you? Consider these options, below, and you’ll enjoy a magical, movie-worthy room of your own. 

The Slim Seater

When you have to choose either a kitchen table or an island, follow designer Nicole Cohen’s lead: In her Colonial cottage, she designed her own narrow island, topped with butcher block, which works both as a seating area and a prep space. 

The Moderate Pull-Out

Rachel Kraven’s Los Angeles kitchen is already on the spacious side—a custom island with drawers keeps it feeling expansive and tidy.

The Chef’s Favorite

Having too many cooks in the kitchen is hardly a problem in Amy D’Addario and Marcus Hinchey’s Brooklyn townhouse—especially since they renovated the space to include an island, complete with storage and an extra sink. The sapele-wood top gives it a mid-century feel.

The Straightforward Stand

Photography by Cody Guilfoyle

A narrow custom island (made with the same patterned finish as the cabinets) adds a simple work surface to this kitchen. A bottom shelf is a perfect space to keep essentials that you don’t mind seeing out (like your chic Dutch oven), and a hook on the side makes a great place to hang tea towels or oven mitts.

The Industrial Element

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

Perfect for rentals, a simple stainless steel island (which can be easily found through a restaurant supply or hardware store) provides fuss-free space for meal prep and storage: Just use the lower shelf to stack dishware and other essentials.

The Perfect Pink

Some pastel spray paint took this IKEA island to the next level. With its shelves hidden from view, it makes the perfect addition to Jen Levy’s small New York kitchen. 

The Rustic Touch

Photography by Aaron Bengochea

In Sybil Domond’s Brooklyn home, a white island with a weathered appearance fits right in with the space’s bohemian vibe. Built-in shelves and drawers double as bonus pantry space, and wheels allow it to be moved anywhere—perfect for entertaining.

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