I Found a Budget Kitchen Island to Fit in My Small City Apartment (It’s Not IKEA)

published May 24, 2024
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Credit: Elissa Crowe

When you walk into my New York City apartment, you’re immediately standing in the kitchen. This entryway-less layout may seem odd to those living in larger homes, but it’s pretty common in small Manhattan spaces. Thankfully, my kitchen is a pretty good size for a small apartment, but because it’s the first room I step into when entering, I found myself needing more than just the countertops for setting down mail, grocery bags, and the like. I was also tired of preparing all of my meals on my countertops, which are already full of various small appliances. 

I decided to search Amazon for a kitchen island to complement my space’s style and provide a versatile surface with additional storage. I love to entertain, so my cabinets are always overflowing with colored glassware and serving dishes. An island with shelves and drawers would be the perfect place to tuck away some of the extra pieces I don’t use on a day-to-day basis. 

While browsing, I looked at a number of different islands before landing on the one I purchased: the Shintenchi Rolling Kitchen Island Cart. I was immediately sold on this piece for a few key reasons. For one, the $170 price tag couldn’t be beat, and the 15.75-inch width is also a major pro. My kitchen isn’t that wide, especially when more than one person is standing there prepping dinner, and I didn’t want the island to feel bulky or totally get in the way. The island does have a leaf that allows it to expand to just under 25 inches total. So when I’m hosting friends, I have plenty of space to set out larger things like a pizza box or charcuterie board. 

The island comes on wheels, and I like to scoot it around my kitchen as needed. The cabinets and drawers (I chose the model with one double cabinet and three drawers) have proven to be incredibly useful by housing more of my glassware and trays than I ever could have imagined. There’s also a hook on the side, which is perfect for hanging kitchen towels. 

Credit: Sarah Lyon

Aesthetically speaking, I’ve gotten lots of compliments on the island from friends who have come over; it really elevates what is otherwise a pretty basic New York apartment kitchen. That’s due in part to its simple white finished cabinetry and the warm, honey-colored wooden top. The stainless steel bar pulls and knobs read modern, but the piece feels traditional enough to work in my eclectic space. It’s really more of a style chameleon in my opinion, which makes it potentially suited to a wide variety of spaces. 

So if you’re looking for a functional kitchen piece that looks chic and won’t break the bank, this is it. Keep in mind that you can also swap out the hardware to make it look more custom — this actually may be my next DIY project!