Kitchen islands have become pretty much the norm rather than the exception in kitchen design. One of every two new homes built have one. As many advantages as there are to an island, there are also some disadvantages. Let's take a look at some of both and from there you can make your own decision.
Advantages of kitchen islands
The advantages of kitchen islands are many; added counter space, added storage, and sometimes even an extra cook-top are just some of the positives. The added counter space is one of the main reasons people install them, but islands are manufactured or can be designed (if buying a permanent one) to fit almost any purpose. The advantage of adding a permanent model is that it can be equipped with electricity, and often other convenience appliances such as a food prep sink or additional stove top. Most freestanding models are not equipped to handle this; but if the main purpose if to provide additional counter space or seating, freestanding islands are an inexpensive alternative to the high cost of having one permanently installed. Also, they have the advantage of being able to be moved around, allowing for more flexibility in room arrangement.
Disadvantages of kitchen islands
Permanent and freestanding kitchen islands both have some of the same disadvantages, but each have model-specific disadvantages as well. The main disadvantage of a permanent island is that it is just that, permanent. It stays put no matter what, so you really have to love the materials and design you choose, because you will be looking at it and using it for many, many years. Another disadvantage of both styles is that, unless you have a large kitchen, it takes up floor space, which is often at a premium. You should weigh the need you have for kitchen floor space against the positives an island can offer. A smaller kitchen or microwave cart may give you some of the benefits without taking up valuable floor space.
A design-specific disadvantage of the free-standing models is the tip-over risk. Even stationary ones without wheels pose a danger to young children, who often love to climb and pull on things. A way to combat this is to use L-brackets to attach the bottom to the floor. If this is not a possibility, you should research other ways to child-proof your island to prevent injury.