Kitchen Island vs Dining Table: Which Is Better?

by Invis Furniture on Sep 09, 2022

Kitchen Island vs Dining Table: Which Is Better?

Whether you’re relocating or redecorating, the kitchen should not be overlooked. The kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home” because it is where family members gather and a flurry of activities takes place. Since there are numerous factors to consider when designing the layout of your kitchen, there is a lot to think about.

A common question that people ask is whether a kitchen island or a dining table is better. Both offer additional workspace and can be customized to your preferences. It is an important question to ask as either one will eventually become the focal point of your kitchen space and must meet your daily needs. You wouldn’t want to keep running into minor inconveniences every day because you overlooked something crucial. We hope that this article will help you in selecting the best fit for your kitchen.

What is a Kitchen Island?

The concept of a kitchen island originated in Europe around the 1800s. They come in a variety of styles, ranging from standard base cabinets to double-tiered islands. Most islands are built in but some homeowners prefer a movable island for more flexibility.

Benefits of a Kitchen Island:

  1. More Inclusivity

The great thing about having an island is that it encourages conversation between the two spaces that are separated by the island. It is a more casual dining area where the person preparing the food will not feel left out because they can converse over the island while they are busy.

  1. Extra Working Space

The drawback of having a smaller kitchen is that there isn’t much space to prepare ingredients when baking or cooking for a large group. But having an island means having extra tabletop space near the oven or stove to place ingredients making them easily accessible. No more struggling to find an empty spot to set that mixing bowl down again.

A dining table, on the other hand, can provide the same benefit and even more table space than an island. The only considerations are whether it can be situated close enough to the cooktop so that you don’t have to walk a long distance to take what you need while the food is cooking, and whether having it at counter height is a priority for you because dining tables would be shorter than your counters, making prepping food standing up uncomfortable.

  1. Extra Storage Space

When it comes to storage, the kitchen island is a clear winner. Most kitchen islands have cabinets and drawers underneath that provide much-needed storage space to stow away all the messy-looking pots and pans when not in use. It’s also convenient to store eating utensils within the island if that’s where you eat the most.

  1. Incorporate Fixtures and Appliances

Because an island is highly customizable to your needs, you can add a sink or a stove to the surface. You can even incorporate refrigeration for your wine or other beverages, a dishwasher, or even a cozy space for the family dog Fido like this one from Ideal Home.

Fido the dog is sitting on his bed that is in an alcove within a kitchen island.

With pets at home, dog and cat bowls are a tripping hazard and can look out of place when left on the floor. You can make a special food station alcove for your precious furball like this one by Kari Arendsen.

Two metal pet bowls sit within a specially made alcove within a white kitchen island.

With so many options available, keep in mind that adding a sink or any electrical appliances will add to the hassle and cost of cabling and plumbing.

Limitations of a Kitchen Island:

  1. Cost

As many advantages and possibilities as a kitchen island can provide, they all come at a cost. Depending on the design and materials used, a kitchen island can cost between $3,000 and $5,000. Adding more fixtures and appliances will stretch your budget further. A dining table easily wins this category because it is significantly less expensive than something fully customized and built-in.

  1. Uncomfortable and Non-Inclusive Bar Stools

A kitchen island is taller than a dining table as it would need to match the kitchen counters. As a result, bar stools are required for the island, which is inconvenient for the elderly or children who will struggle to get on the tall stool. Because bar stools are uncomfortable to sit on for long periods of time, using the island as a workspace may be less ideal.

  1. Minimal Leg Room

Unless your island comes with an attached table which would take up more room and cost more, it is most likely blocked for storage and only leaves very little space for the purpose of pushing in the seats, which means very little leg room. Because the bottom of a dining table is empty, you can comfortably stretch your legs out whenever you want.

  1. Disrupted Flow

The "Kitchen Work Triangle" states that the three most important appliances in the kitchen (the cooktop, refrigerator, and sink) should be placed close together for efficiency and ease of access. Although it is not a universal concept, having an island when there isn't enough space can disrupt the flow of work and make maneuvering more difficult rather than effortless.

What is a Dining Table?

A dining table is certainly not a novel concept as most homes have one. For the purpose of this article, a dining table refers to an unattached table that is primarily used for eating meals. Now let’s consider their difference in comparison to an island.

Benefits of a Dining Table

  1. Designated Areas

Having a dining table separate from the cooking area creates designated zones for eating and cooking meals. This can make the space appear less chaotic at first glance, especially in an open-plan home. You would also be able to keep children out of your way while cooking by having them do an activity at the dining table, as the kitchen can be a dangerous place with hot surfaces and carelessly placed objects in a rush.

  1. More Space

A dining table would undoubtedly provide more work surface than a kitchen island. If you need more table space while preparing meals but don’t want to sacrifice floor space, consider an extendable dining table like this Bento Console Dining Table.

Invis Furniture Bento Extendable Console Dining Table with the Bento Bench in front, both in Walnut colour.

You would be able to add in additional panels to enjoy more table space when you have a lot of ingredients to prep but no place to set them down, or to seat extra people during meals. You won’t have to commit to having a large table blocking the way all the time as you can collapse it into a small console to put aside or in another room when it’s not in use.

The gaps underneath a dining table can also create the illusion of spaciousness as opposed to a kitchen island, which is typically blocked off beneath the tabletop, closing off the space.

A dining table can seat more people than an island. If there are more people in the household, a dining table would be more beneficial. Additionally, you can purchase adaptable seating like this Bento Bench to accommodate the number of diners you have.

Invis Furniture Bento Extendable Bench in Birch colour
  1. Multifunctional

There are more possibilities when it comes to a dining table than a kitchen island. Sure, you can still do work on your laptop on an island, but the bar stools will make it less comfortable to sit for long periods of time, and an island top does not have as much space for writing or referring to files and documents.

Aside from being used as a workspace, a dining table can also be used as a craft or homework area for children, and this X Bar Coffee Dining table can even be converted to a low coffee table perfect for snacks and fun board/card games.

Invis Furniture Extendable Coffee Dining Table in White Oak colour

  1. Better for Sharing

A dining table not only provides space for sharing foods such as potlucks, hot pot, and mala, but it also encourages those seated to share their thoughts. A dining table facilitates the flow of conversation because everyone is facing one another, as opposed to sitting side by side at a kitchen island. Conversations over shared food foster intimacy and better relationship-building with one another.

  1. Healthier

Studies have proven that eating at a dining table is healthier as it helps us to eat mindfully. Most of us dine in front of our computers while doing work or watching our favourite shows. You may not realize it, but multitasking during meals can lead to poor digestion because you are less likely to properly chew your food when distracted. When you eat at a table away from your screens, you’ll eat more slowly because you’re not mindlessly devouring your food. Your body will thank you for it!

Furthermore, if you designate your dining table as a space solely for eating and follow a regular meal routine, your body will register that you're about to eat and begin pre-digestion as soon as you sit at the table.

Those concerned about gaining weight will be relieved to learn that eating at the table can also help you lose weight! When you’re away from distractions, you’ll be able to pay more attention to the taste and texture of your food and get more satisfaction from it, which will lead you to eat a more appropriate portion, preventing overeating.

  1. Variety

It won’t be difficult to match the interior of your home and you will be spoiled for choice with the numerous different types of dining tables available. Some establishments even allow you to make minor customizations, such as changing the colour or material of the tabletop. If you want something truly unique that will blend seamlessly with your kitchen’s cabinetry, you can opt for a customized dining table set.

  1. Speed

Because it is built in and customized, a kitchen island would take much longer to set up. If you’re on a tight schedule, there are many furniture stores that offer next-day delivery. You can even go down to a shop and get one right away if you need it urgently. Furthermore, if you get tired of the look in the future, you can quickly and easily replace the table, whereas you would need time to demolish and rebuild the island.

Limitations of a Dining Table:

  1. No Storage Space

Because the bottom of a dining table is empty, it cannot provide the extra storage space that a kitchen island can. A dining table would be ideal for leg space, but an island is preferable if you require additional kitchen storage.

  1. No Fancy Fittings

You wouldn’t be able to incorporate a sink or dishwasher into your dining table the way you can with an island. If having these extra fittings is important to you, an island would be more suitable.


If you want a more casual setup and don’t have many people staying with you, as well as no young children, an island would be ideal for extra kitchen storage and custom fixtures. A dining table would be a much better fit if you need more space and flexibility.

Given that both options come with their pros and cons, we believe that having both an island and kitchen table is the best option if you have the space and the budget.

I do believe it’s still possible to get the best of both worlds even if you don’t have the luxury of space and budget to go for both options. By replacing it with a worktable, you can keep the look and functionality of a Kitchen Island without having to spend so much money having it built in and still have the flexibility of moving it around in the future. Getting an expandable table like the ones from our store, will give you the extra table space you require. Cooking a simple dinner? You can leave the table un-extended to reduce the claustrophobic feeling in the kitchen as you move around. Need to bake some treats? Simply add as many extension panels as you need for extra space. The best part is that you can collapse it to a console after you’ve finished using it, allowing you to freely walk around the kitchen without any obstructions, and keeping the room looking nice and spacious.

If you’re thinking about getting a kitchen island or customizing built-in kitchen cabinets, visit Invis Reno and request a quote today!

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