Do You Need A Dining Table If You Have A Kitchen Island?

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Last updated on March 15th, 2024 at 12:56 pm

If you have a kitchen island, you may be wondering what on earth you would need with a dining room table?

Maybe you’re the kind of family that just throws a plate and a glass down anywhere come dinner time or maybe you just don’t have the extra room. 

Well, look no further because I’ve got your answer!

Kitchen islands are excellent to use instead of dining tables when small families (2-4) are eating informal meals together and want a quick and easy cleanup. However, for large gatherings, long dining occasions, more room in the kitchen to cook, or less cleaning while cooking, a dining table is better to use.

Now that we’ve got that covered, let’s go over the benefits and drawbacks of using a kitchen island as a kitchen table in more detail to help you make a better decision.

Let’s dive in!

Quick Navigation: Kitchen Table vs. Kitchen Island

  1. Benefits Of Using Kitchen Island As Dining Table
  2. Drawbacks Of Using Kitchen Island As Dining Table
  3. When Is It Better To Use A Kitchen Island As The Dining Table?
  4. Final Verdict: Kitchen Island Vs. Dining Table
  5. Final Thoughts

Benefits of Using a Kitchen Island as a Dining Table

There are several benefits of using a kitchen island as a dining table. These benefits include:

  • Perfect for couples or small families
  • Best for informal settings
  • Cleanup is closer/easier
  • Saves room
  • Saves money

Perfect For Couples Or Small Families

If it’s just you and your partner, or even a one-child family, a kitchen island is typically more than enough room for 2 to 3 people to dine, especially if it’s a large island.

Most islands are large enough, but occasionally you will see one with a small surface area while the stovetop takes up the majority of the space. 

If the island has an overhang, then it was built with the intention of having seating.

Best Used For Informal Settings

Hosting dinner for twelve is a more formal occasion, even if it’s just family and a laid-back, casual atmosphere.

However, if you only have the kitchen island and no dining room set up, you’re unlikely to be hosting 12 people anyways. 

So for small, informal gatherings, the kitchen island is best and generally feels more homely and comfortable than a large dining room table. 

Cleanup Is Closer/Easier

When it comes time to clean up and gather all of the dishes, it’s much nicer having the entire cleanup effort constrained to the one room in the home where all of the dishes are cleaned anyways. 

Just scoop up all of the dirty dishes and walk about 3 feet and you’re done.

This makes cleanup much faster than using a traditional dining table.

Saves Room

Without a dining table taking up space, you can use the extra room for something else, like an office or den.

Or if you don’t have the extra space for a dining table, then sticking solely to the kitchen island as your main eating place works out great.

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Saves Money

Finally, if you don’t already have a dining table, then it is cheaper to forgo the extra table altogether and just use the existing kitchen island to eat at.

Drawbacks Of Using Kitchen Island As Dining Table

Of course, we can’t talk about the benefits without also including the drawbacks of using a kitchen island as a dining table. These drawbacks include:

  • Inadequate for large gatherings
  • Must clean before eating
  • Reduces space to cook
  • Not as comfortable to sit at

Inadequate For Large Gatherings

Probably the biggest drawback to forgoing a dining table is the fact that you can’t easily host large gatherings.

(Of course, if you never plan on hosting a party, then this won’t be a drawback to you.)

If you don’t have a dining room table, a kitchen island just won’t be sufficient for any kind of large gathering and you’ll spend most of your friendly gatherings dining at someone else’s house.

If you do have a gathering around it, you’ll likely be talking directly in everyone’s face as you will all have to scrunch in.

And most people won’t have a place to sit to eat, so this setup is not ideal.

Must Clean Before Eating

The second biggest drawback is the amount of cleaning you will have to do while you cook to prepare the kitchen island for eating.

While islands are a great surface area for cooking, where you can keep your ingredients, portions, and dishes moving across it as you go, they will cause a lot of extra cleaning to be done before you can set the table for dinner.

It’ll be a constant back and forth battle as you prep and clean then prep and clean again. 

Although, cleaning while you cook is an excellent way to keep the kitchen cleaner and save time anyway.

(My husband does this, and our kitchen is clean and manageable most of the time because he takes a few extra minutes while cooking to tidy.)

But sometimes, you just want to cook and be able to set the food down and eat immediately. This type of action would better be accomplished on a separate dining table.

Reduces Space To Cook

It also reduces space in the kitchen to move around. 

If you’re ever involved in one of those intense cooking sessions where everything is timed and there are a lot of ingredients, dodging the kitchen island as you constantly move about is a recipe for absolute frustration. 

With a dining table, everyone can stay out of the kitchen and socialize or sit elsewhere.

However, with just a kitchen island, more people will gather around the island and be in the way while you’re cooking or trying to prep the island for dinner.

Not As Comfortable To Sit At

While sitting at a kitchen island for dinner, you’re most likely sitting side-by-side to everyone (since island seating is typically only on 2 sides) instead of sitting across from each other.

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This type of seating is not as comfortable to stay and talk for long periods of time because you’ll be talking/looking sideways through the entire meal.

In addition, if your island doesn’t have an adequate overhang of 12 inches, then your legs won’t fit under the island comfortably.

On the other hand, dining tables provide ample, comfortable seating, so you can sit across from each other while talking and have plenty of room for your legs to fit underneath.

These small nuisances are fine for quick meals eaten at the kitchen island. But for anything more formal or drawn-out, you’ll quickly find that you won’t want to sit there for extended periods of time.

When Is It Better To Use A Kitchen Island As The Dining Table?

A lot of families are constantly on the move, with our jobs, finances, kids who have after-school, extra-curricular activities, homework, and so much more.

Oftentimes, even for those who own a dining room table, it sits and collects dust until it gets cleaned. 

The dining room table gets used as the universal dropzone for everything and anything under the sun.

Backpacks, paperwork, pens, pencils, boxes, mail, delivering packages, and on and on it goes, the dining room table is seldom used as a dining room table in fast-paced families. 

All of the above occasions merit using the kitchen island as a place to gather and dine. Islands are especially useful if you live in a home with limited space and a dining room is either out of the question or too much of a chaotic clutter to bother with.

In addition, if you have little kids, especially ones that enjoy playing with their food rather than consuming it, the kitchen island is even better.

Plop a high chair, which just so happens to be about the right height for a kitchen island, next to the island and make cleaning up much easier right next to the kitchen sink and trash can.

Final Verdict: Kitchen Island Vs. Dining Table

As you can see, the choice almost always comes down to personal preference and indeed, circumstances.

There are many benefits to using the kitchen table as the family dining area but that doesn’t mean that the dining room table has no value either. 

With larger families that aren’t always on the go, a dining room table makes the most sense for family dinners and special occasions, especially formal ones.

So there is value in either one and it depends on what you want to do and what makes the most sense. 

Ultimately, if you have the room to fit a kitchen island AND a dining table, then put both in your home. This will give you all of the flexibility to eat wherever you want and with however many people you want.

But if you don’t have the space for both, then you’ll likely get more benefits out of having a dedicated dining table.

Final Thoughts On Dining Tables vs. Kitchen Islands

There you have it!

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There are many drawbacks and benefits to owning either a kitchen island or a dining room table, or even both if you have enough space for it.

Even with both, the options for creativity are endless and you can make use of a dining room table as a decorative display rather than a useful commodity. 

No matter what you choose to do, there’s value in both and you can use both in the way that you see fit. 

Catch you in my next post!

The Best Kitchen Tools & Products I’ve Used

Ravinte Cabinet Handle Installation Template (For Doors & Drawers)

This is my all-time favorite handle installation template because it has two templates (one for drawers and one for doors) with multiple pull sizes & knob placements! These templates make installing cabinet handles a breeze because you always know your handles will be installed in the same spot on all of your drawers and doors. The kit also comes with a drill bit so you can guarantee you’re using the correct size. I used this template on my entire kitchen and both bathrooms to cut the installation time in half. You can find this hardware template here on Amazon.

Franklin Brass 5-1/16 Inch (128mm) Center Bar Pull (Stainless Steel)

If you want to immediately modernize your kitchen island, then these cabinet pulls are a must. They are heavy-duty feeling, durable, easy to install, and are a large size for a great price. We put these pulls on all of our kitchen and island doors and drawers along with our bathroom doors and drawers. You can find these gorgeous cabinet pulls here on Amazon.

P.S. Use the hardware installation template I mentioned above to install these new pulls in record time!

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By Christine

Christine is a blogger and DIYer who tackles home renovation and decorating projects alongside her husband, Adam, for their personal residence and rental properties. Although she successfully tackles large renovation projects to avoid expensive contractor fees and bring her vision to life now, her path to success was not easy.

Go here to read her story,  From a Clueless First-Time Homebuyer To A Confident DIYer Creating Her Dream Home One Project At A Time.

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