We recently profiled options for skinny islands in small kitchens. For those who can’t swing a micro island, either due to the size or the layout of their kitchen, perhaps a petite peninsula can fill the need for more storage or countertop space. Here’s how.

The main difference between a kitchen island and a peninsula is that the former is open and unattached on all four sides, whereas the latter is open on just three sides. Because of this, a peninsula tends to be a fixed piece of cabinetry in a kitchen, unlike an island, which can be a freestanding piece of furniture or even a cart on wheels.

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But what a peninsula lacks in flexibility it more than makes up for in function. As with an island, the base can be used for extra storage, and the surface can be used for cooking prep or as a casual place to sit around. It’s therefore a terrific alternative in a kitchen where an island simply isn’t an option.

One advantage peninsulas have over islands is that they can act as a friendly barrier to keep kitchen visitors at bay. This is crucial if your kitchen is on the smaller side. The chef or chefs can be prepping a meal without having to dodge people perched around an island.

By putting the seating area on the outer edge of the peninsula, away from the work zone, your kids or guests can sit nearby and visit with you while you work, but not be underfoot or in the way of any cabinets you need to access.

Keep in mind that if your peninsula is going to serve as a place for people to sit at, you’re going to want to include an overhanging countertop for knee space. The National Kitchen & Bath Association recommends allowing 15 inches of clear knee space for a standard 36-inch-high kitchen countertop, and 12 inches for a 42-inch bar-height countertop.

I’ve worked in less space than this, but be aware that if you go less than 10 inches, it can start to get uncomfortable to sit for long periods of time.

A peninsula also can house appliances, allowing for the setup of specialized work zones. Place a wine or beverage refrigerator in a peninsula alongside a cabinet to store glassware, and you have a nice little wine/beverage nook that guests can access without getting underfoot in the main work zone. Or create an area just for the kids by putting a microwave and a refrigerator drawer at an accessible height in the base of the peninsula.

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This is another advantage of a peninsula, as it can be a challenge to feed electrical or plumbing lines into a stand-alone island.

Of course, you don’t have to include a base cabinet or appliances beneath a projecting peninsula-style countertop to get function out of it. Perhaps all you need is an extra little surface area for two people to gather around. By cutting the base cabinetry out of the equation, you can give more area over to knee space.

This is an option that would probably work in even the tiniest kitchens. If yours is a very tight space, try putting the extending piece of countertop on a hinge so that you can lower it out of the way when it’s not in use.