Are kitchen islands going out of style? Kitchen designers say they're here to stay but with a twist

This is how to get the most out of your kitchen layout while ensuring it's bang on trend

Black kitchen with island with white worktops
(Image credit: Future/James French)

There’s a lot to love about kitchen islands. A centrepiece to any kitchen, they provide extra space for food preparation, a place to store more of your kitchen essentials and a seating arrangement less formal than a traditional dining table - but are kitchen islands going out of style? 

They’re multifunctional with the ability to transform your kitchen. When you’re hosting, a kitchen island idea offers the perfect chef's table experience, and when you’re not, it’s a practical place to sit and work from home. However, where islands used to be a must-have, a focus on small kitchen ideas and cabinet space means the island is no longer at the forefront of kitchen design. 

Not all kitchens benefit from an island; depending on the style and size, there simply might not be enough room to fit one. So should you still consider a kitchen island? We've asked kitchen design experts if you should invest, and if so, how. 

Are kitchen islands going out of style?  

We spoke to experts for their thoughts. It seems that despite some outdated kitchen island styles, the kitchen island itself is still a practical asset for most homes. To help you decide whether kitchen islands should be left in 2023, or not, here’s what the experts have to say. 

1. A kitchen island creates a centrepiece in the kitchen

Modern hwite kitchen, large lilac breakfast bar with high bar stools, low hanging pendant lights

(Image credit: Future PLC/David Parmiter)

Open-plan kitchen ideas are more popular than ever, and kitchen islands are the ideal centrepiece between your kitchen and living space. Especially if you have a large kitchen, an island can zone out your space. 

As Al Bruce, founder of Olive & Barr states, a kitchen island is a ‘welcome divide in a large open plan kitchen’. It will ‘anchor a design and draw the eye to where the action takes place - whether you use it as a workspace, or social area where friends and family gravitate throughout the day’. 

Kitchens are often the ‘heart of the home’, and a kitchen island offers a place to make your kitchen more homely and personal. ‘The island is a place where you can display flowers and arrange your favourite cookbooks,’ adds Bruce. 

2. Kitchen islands are a must-have for hosting

Kitchen with pink island and colourful chevron flooring

(Image credit: Future/James French)

Most kitchen experts argue kitchen islands are more timely than ever, due to their social design. Rob Streather, director at Shape London explains ‘With the noticeable shift to spending more time at home, the kitchen island facilitates an inclusive, social cooking environment.’ 

Darren Watts, showroom development and design director at Wren Kitchens also describes how kitchen trends this year are focusing heavily on that social element. ‘Kitchen island designs now feature rounder edges rather than sharp corners for a more welcoming and inviting space where more people can sit and chat closer together.'

If you love to host, the kitchen island enables ‘the chef's table experience,’ adds Oli Deadman, head of design at Clive Christian Interiors. ‘Kitchen islands can be a theatrical space for the discerning gourmet to entertain their guests in their own homes. Whether an island has built-in seating or freestanding chairs/stools, it can be the perfect place for an audience to watch their host at work.’ 

3. Kitchen islands have multiple uses

Black kitchen with island with white worktops

(Image credit: Future/Mary Wadsworth)

Forget entertaining fancy dinner parties for a moment, because kitchen islands are also ideal for the busy family of five who need a functional place to sit, eat, and socialise. 

‘The benefits of incorporating kitchen islands into home design are multifaceted’, states Rob Streathe, ‘they offer additional counter space, storage, and often serve as a multifunctional area for meal preparation, cooking, and dining. The versatility of kitchen islands is exemplified by the possibility of incorporating sinks, hobs, and/or seating areas, offering a customised solution based on individual needs.’ 

Chris Dance at InHouse room design, states that ‘kitchen islands can also act as a workspace for homes that can’t accommodate a home office. You don’t have to redesign your house to incorporate an office space and you don’t have to move too far for a tea break.’  

4. They provide extra storage

Hjerte range in Spruce

(Image credit: Smile Kitchens)

You can never have enough kitchen storage ideas - especially if you love to cook. Kitchen islands can come with built-in cabinets, drawers, shelves and an additional worktop, which only adds to their practicality. Darren also states ‘kitchen islands are a handy place to store utensils and prepare food, providing much-needed extra space for efficient workflow without anything getting in the way.’

5. You don’t need a large kitchen to have one

Traditional Shaker kitchen with rounded kitchen island worktop.

(Image credit: Future/Darren Chung)

If you think only large open-plan kitchens can accommodate an island - think again.  

‘There was once the perception that an island unit must be of an impressive size, and you would need a kitchen of endless proportions to match,' explains Ruth Lavender, design expert at Benchmarx Kitchens. 'However, with clever planning and thought, a kitchen island can be installed in most kitchen spaces, whether you’re designing a kitchen from scratch, or working with what you’ve got.’  

‘You might have a spacious family kitchen or a compact urban apartment,’ states Rob Streather, ‘either way, kitchen islands can be adapted to suit the available space and the lifestyle of the inhabitants. Their versatility ensures that they can enhance the functionality and aesthetic appeal of any kitchen, making them a viable and enduring choice for a broad spectrum of homeowners.”

6. Kitchen islands are actually evolving

yellow kitchen wall with island unit and drop surface with wooden stools

(Image credit: Future PLC/Katie Lee)

Experts suggest that kitchen islands are no longer the extra worktop space as you may know them. Rather, ‘there are now endless alternatives to the traditional island. For example, a harvest table is a great option for those who have a tight kitchen space,' says Al Bruce. 

'They can be easily painted to add warmth and contrast. Floating shelves, small cabinets or bespoke-made countertops can also be used as kitchen islands. Simply, there is no specific rule to what your kitchen island must look like, as long as it serves its purpose and suits your kitchen space.’ 

‘Another emerging trend is the use of double island.’ Al continues. ‘Homeowners are increasingly opting for this design choice as it provides ample space for cooking, entertaining, and gathering. Double islands can add a touch of grandeur to the overall design.’ 


Is a kitchen island worth it? 

Chris Dance confirms ‘kitchen islands are a worthy investment.’ As well as the storage and space benefits, they can be tailored to suit you, and your home. ‘Some islands can have appliances like sinks, cookers and even extractor fans cleverly built into their design. Darren Watts also states that kitchen islands work well for kitchens with awkward layouts. ‘If you have low, sloping ceilings, kitchen islands can provide a central worktop where one wasn't previously available.’ 

Panelled kitchen island with red bar stools.

(Image credit: Future)

Does a kitchen island add value to a home? 

A well-designed kitchen, featuring a stylish and functional island will add value to your home, through both aesthetic and design appeal. Rob Steather states ‘Prospective homebuyers often prioritise modern kitchen ideas, as well as a well-equipped space, making kitchen islands a desirable feature that can contribute to increased market appeal.’ 

Practicality aside, ‘if you’re selling, kitchen islands offer the instant ‘wow-factor’, adds Darren. 

The verdict is in, kitchen islands are here to stay. So how are you designing yours?

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Louise Oliphant is the Ecommerce Writer at Ideal Home. Bringing a bunch of bedding expertise from her previous role in PR, Louise is eager to share useful sleep content, including what to look for, when and where to buy the best bedroom products. Think everything from gorgeous luxury bedding, to duvets that’ll keep you at optimum temperature all night long. Aside from reviews to help get essential shut eye, Louise also writes shopping content for homeware items that’ll add a decorative touch to your space.