Kitchen island ideas – create a focal point for cooking and socialising

Inspiration for a statement island at the centre of the kitchen, fit for all your needs
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  • Smart kitchen island ideas have become an essential feature for modern kitchen designs – not surprising given the useable value it adds to a kitchen layout.

    ‘When designing a kitchen, we’d always consider breaking up the area with an island,’ says Alex Main, Director at The Main Company. ‘It works as both a cooking and entertaining space, and we’d change the work surface materials to suit each area specifically.’

    The first thing to think about when considering kitchen island design ideas is the main purpose of incorporating one into your space. Are you looking for extra prep space, or to form a boundary between the cooking zone and the living/dining area?

    Almost all kitchen ideas these days incorporate seating – an even the smallest island can usually accommodate an overhang of worktop and a set of bar stools. Alternatively, you could pick a long kitchen island with integrated low-level, table-style seating at one end.

    Kitchen island ideas

    Functions aside, the change of pace offered by a kitchen island often encourages a variation in material. You can afford to be braver here with a bolder finish or colour, or perhaps a more expensive material that would be prohibitive across an entire room.

    For a show-stopping centrepiece, look to luxury materials, from deeply veined marble and mottled granites to exotic timber veneers and gleaming mirrored glass or burnished metal.

    1. Choose continuous surfaces for a sleek look

    Yellow kitchen island and pink stools

    Image credit: Howdens

    Let a luxurious work surface take centre stage, with a continuous countertop that covers the top and sides of an island. Called a ‘waterfall’ worktop as it flows to the floor, much like a waterfall, it makes a luxe way of finishing off an island and will protect the sides of cabinets from damage too.

    ‘To introduce a high-end feel to your space, add a waterfall design to your kitchen island. This creates a continuous look, as the counter pattern extends down the side of the unit for a flowing effect,’ says Tori Summers, Director of Design, Product & Innovation, Howdens. ‘This idea works best with square-edged work surfaces, which have clean lines that ensure all joins meet neatly for a clean and professional finish.’

    2. Include ample space for seating

    Green kitchen and teal kitchen island design with upholstered barstools

    Image credit: Future PLC/Robert Sanderson

    Lack of leg room can be an issue with kitchen island seating and breakfast bar ideas, so rather than relying on an overhang area at one end, create a dedicated niche where you can slot in a row of bar stools.

    Allow at least 60-70cm of space, per person, along an island so there is plenty of space for knees and enough elbow room for guests to sit comfortably. This could need adjustment depending on the style of bar stools you choose, such as bulky or thickly upholstered bar stools, while swivel stools will need extra space too.

    3. Zone an open-plan space with a longline island

    Kitchen island with bespoke shelving

    Image credit: Future PLC/Darren Chung

    Open-plan living layouts offer ample space for everything but without some division they can feel overly large and vacuous. Break up the space by using furniture to divide one large living area into smaller, more manageable zones.

    A longline island creates a natural divide between kitchen and dining/living spaces. With cooking and prep surfaces on one side of the island, consider kitting out the reverse side with practical open shelving. Filled with books and display pieces, it makes a more decorative feature facing outwards as you enter the area.

    4. Mix materials to create a multifunctional island

    Teal green kitchen with grey tiled cooker hood and splashback with butchers block kitchen island idea

    Image credit: Future PLC/Brent Darby

    Although marble worktops throughout look luxurious, marble isn’t always terribly practical. Marble is porous, so worktops are susceptible to staining and pitting from dark or acidic liquids, as well as scratches and nicks from sharp knives.

    Make a marble topped island more practical by incorporating a wooden butcher’s block into the design. A multi-layered island creates visual interest and raising the block just above the worktop keeps everything contained.

    5. Extend an island to incorporate a dining table

    Neutral kitchen with marble topped kitchen island and dining table

    Image credit: Magnet

    ‘Adding a kitchen island doesn’t just create additional counter space and storage, but immediately creates a great dining area for friends and family,’ says Lizzie Beesley, Head of Design at Magnet. ‘Kitchen islands with seating options have become an ever-increasing trend, with many different styles to choose from.’

    ‘Smaller kitchens can incorporate seating into their island design, perhaps with a worktop overhang and bar stools. Other options include long islands with integrated low level, table seating at one end which makes a comfortable set up for family meals and entertaining.’

    6. Squeeze in a moveable island if space is tight

    Cream kitchen with freestanding island

    Image credit: Future PLC/Colin Poole

    If you don’t have the luxury of a large and spacious kitchen, it doesn’t mean you have to forsake a kitchen island if prep surfaces are lacking. A portable kitchen island idea will give an extra work surface and seating space, plus the added benefit that it can be easily moved to a different position if needed.

    A fixed island will often require plumbing and electrics so causes more upheaval, while a portable island is freestanding and moveable, so less limiting in terms of layout. Opt for one with a combination of storage plus stowing space for stools to maximise its footprint.

    7. Refresh a tired kitchen with a splash of colour

    Pale blue Kitchen with blue painted kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/Douglas Gibb

    A central island is the optimum place for adding a pop of colour to a neutral kitchen or dated decor. Painting the island a cheery, contrast shade allows a quick and easy refresh that can work wonders on a tired kitchen, without committing to a full room redo.

    In practical spaces like kitchens, always go for a hardwearing, water-resistant paint finish that can handle regular wipe-downs of splashes and splatters. To save prep time if re-painting a wooden island, opt for purpose-made Cupboard paint – try Rust-oleum or Ronseal – it’s easy to apply to furniture and won’t need primer or top coat.

    8. Pick a practical stainless steel worktop

    White kitchen with stainless steel island and red stools

    Image credit: Future PLC/Rachael Smith

    Choosing the best countertop for your kitchen island will depend on what you’re going to be using it for. An extra work surface for prepping food will need to be hardwearing and easy-clean. If you want to incorporate a sink or hob, you’ll need a sleek integratable surface. Or if it’s more of a bar area where you’ll be socialising, think more in terms of looks and luxury.

    Stainless steel counters are a practical option for kitchen prep spaces. Not only do they look the part, stainless steel is hygienic and easy-clean, as well as being heat and corrosive-resistant. Stainless steel is often the worktop of choice in professional kitchens and while it can scratch and dent, this all adds to its character and charm.

    9. Plan a practical layout that flows

    White gloss kitchen with wood and marble kitchen island

    Image credit: IKEA

    In an open-plan kitchen-diner, position the island unit so that it steers traffic away from kitchen hotspots, such as the hob and oven, and towards seating areas instead. Go for a storage-heavy design with plenty of drawers or cubbies as cluttered surfaces will ruin the look of a sleek, open-plan space.

    Also consider how kitchen island lighting ideas plays a key role in creating a cohesive scheme. A triple row of pendants positioned above an island creates a focal point and helps to zone the space further. Contrast flooring gives the area a change of pace too, with an island as a neat dividing mechanism.

    10. Incorporate extra storage at one end

    White kitchen with green kitchen island idea with shelving built into the side

    Image credit: Mereway

    Maximise every inch of a kitchen island with well thought-out storage ideas. Instead of standard end panels, put this wasted space to better use by incorporating a set of slimline shelves. At less than 10cm deep, a narrow gap like this works perfectly as a spice rack or a spot for stashing condiments and oils.

    Alternatively, just add a couple of steel rungs and the slimline space is ideal for displaying cookery books, with covers facing outwards so they’re easier to identify.

    11. Boost light levels with glossy surfaces and glass doors

    Marble white kitchen with grey island with glass door cupboards

    Image credit: Higham

    In large kitchens with lots of cabinetry, pale worktops with light-reflective finishes can help break up solid blocks of colour and add visual interest to a space.

    For a central kitchen island with outward-facing cabinets, opt for glass door fronts in place of a solid bank of doors. Glass reflects light too, bouncing it across a room to further enhance the feeling of spaciousness.

    12. Slot in a slimline island

    Kitchen island ideas with grey kitchen and slimline island

    Image credit: Victoria Plum

    Even if you don’t have stacks of floor space to play with, a kitchen island needn’t be out of the question. Scale down its footprint by opting for an extra-narrow design made up of shallow depth kitchen cupboards.

    Adding a small overhang on one side will give room for a row of high stools to sit at. Keep to a calm, subdued colour palette with glossy light-reflective work surfaces. And choose pale-coloured flooring with a large-scale pattern to aid the feeling of spaciousness.

    13. Drop in a low dining table

    Navy blue kitchen with bright orange larder cupboard and kitchen island with lower dining section

    Image credit: Harvey Jones

    Design a kitchen island that feels inviting for dining by dropping a lower height worktop, meaning you can use standard dining chair rather than high bar stools. It’s great idea for family kitchens, where you might not want little ones clambering precariously onto bar stools.

    Use the same colour cabinetry for the dining portion of the kitchen island but drop the height by just enough to make it useable as a dining table. Using an a contrasting worktop to the remainder of the island helps to make its purpose standout even further.

    14. Incorporate stylish storage


    Image credit: Future PLC

    Look to use one side of a large island as kitchen storage idea, with enough concealed drawers to hide the majority for kitchen accessories. Then leave a sideboard-style surface to stack cookbooks and display colourful chinaware.

    This is an especially effective open-plan kitchen idea, where you are directly looking at one side of the kitchen island. The broken design helps to make the block kitchen unit feel less imposing on the rest of the space.

    15. Use wood as a worktop

    Kitchen island adjoined to dining table

    Image credit: Harvey Jones

    This thoughtfully designed kitchen island offers a dining table and island hybrid. More than a breakfast bar, this design extends the wooden worktop down onto a fully-fitted dining table. The wooden worktop is ideal for use on an island where the purpose is primarily entertaining thanks to the softer qualities.

    ‘A wooden worktop is a soft material which can become scratched or scorched during wood preparation. Confine the use of wood to soft-use areas such as breakfast bars for eating or  entertaining’ advises Melissa Klink at Harvey Jones. ‘Use a harder surface which is easy to clean, such as  granite or quartz composite, for food prep areas.’

    16. Use each half of the island differently

    kitchen extension

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    Where you have the space, as is the case in this open-plan kitchen extension idea, use a kitchen island to bridge the gap between functional kitchen space and social dining elements.

    Do this by ‘dividing’ the island in half in terms of usage, with purposeful kitchen elements such as integrated fridges and induction hobs one side and a breakfast bar with stools on the other.

    A multifunctional design helps to unify the different uses within the space, while still clearly zoning each purpose.

    17. Get the scale right

    large square kitchen island in navy to match surrounding kitchen

    image credit: Harvey Jones

    Choosing the right size to scale is key when it comes to planning a kitchen island, because while you want it to be the focal point you don’t want it to be overbearing on the layout as a whole. So how much space should you have between a counter and island?

    Matt Baker, kitchen designer at Harvey Jones offers his advice, ‘The most important element has to be the walkways around the island. As a rule of thumb they need to be 1000mm wide in order to be safe and practical in a kitchen.’

    ‘Many seem to think the bigger the better. Wide islands are sure to make an impact, however they’re not the most practical solution because you have to be able to reach the middle when cooking. Try to keep it no deeper than 1400mm front to back.’

    18. Position appliances away from your entertaining space

    kitchen with long central island

    Image credit: Future PLC

    If you’re putting an island into an open-plan kitchen you’re most likely looking to create an engaging and inviting space for entertaining. Kitchen appliance layout ideas are therefore important.

    It might not make sense to position cooking appliances on the outside facing walls of the space, as you’d have your back to guests for the majority of the time while you cook.

    Incorporating the oven and hob into the island facing towards to the social space will help create a more engaging environment while hosting.

    19. Make sure your island is well lit

    Blue kitchen with island and statement lighting

    Image credit: Future PLC

    As far as kitchen lighting ideas go, the island is one of the most important focal points – some would say the star of the show. While you want the entire kitchen to be lit for your needs it’s imperative to make sure the island fits perfectly within the lighting plan.

    As it often serves as the main food prep station and the hub of entertaining it needs to be well-lit, most likely by multiple lighting options. Whether that’s overhead spotlights or lanterns, which you can dim for intimacy or brighten for practical task lighting, ensure the main focus for good lighting is the centre of the island.

    20. Contrast with your wall cabinets

    kitchen cabinets grey and navy

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Joanna Henderson

    Kitchen colour schemes are another thing to think about. Lots of people like to use their island to inject a warming splash of on-trend colour to uplift an otherwise neutral colour scheme.

    If you like this idea, but are worried you may tire of your choice, ensure your cabinet is lade of wood or a high-quality wood veneer that can be easily repainted down the lime.

    21. Balance the layout

    grey kitchen with mirrored glass splashback and pendants over kitchen island

    Image credit: Martin Moore Kitchens

    Whether large or small, the key to getting a kitchen island scheme right is balance. This sophisticated grey kitchen idea demonstrates how to do the job perfectly, with a harmonious balance of grey cabinetry throughout with white walls and worktops to soften the look.

    There’s a symmetry with the seating along the island breakfast bar which adds further balance, making one end entirely dedicated to entertaining.

    22. Blend in a breakfast bar

    Kitchen marble splashback and gold cooker hood

    Image credit: Future PLC

    Multifunctional is all-important when it comes to kitchen design, to make the space as efficient as possible – large or small.

    An ideal multifunctional kitchen island is one that functions as a food prep space with a sink, a storage space and a social space with a breakfast bar.

    23. Get the height right

    kitchen sialdns idea for a home work space

    Image credit: Optiplan Kitchens

    ‘As the heart of the home, plenty more goes on in a kitchen space than simply cooking and eating’ explains Andy Briggs, interior designer for Optiplan Kitchens.

    ‘A kitchen island enables you to perhaps work or have children close by whilst preparing meals. It also offers a popular “standing workspace” for those working from home or doing hobbies – this is meant to be better for your posture than continuously sitting.’

    ‘The height of an island is also ideal for families with small children, as a high chair can be pulled up and little ones can enjoy meal times at the same level as their family.’

    24. Curve the edges for better flow

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Lizzie Orme

    If you’re trying to fit an island into a smaller kitchen, it’s a good idea to choose a design with rounded edges. This will inevitably cost more, but there will be no sharp corners to catch against as you and your family manoeuvre around the space.

    25. Add an alternative worktop

    grey open-plan kitchen

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Brent Darby

    Create a hybrid of styles within your kitchen scheme by combining kitchen worktop ideas on your kitchen island. Use a different material to indicate a change of function for that portion of the kitchen island.

    In this stylish kitchen space a hearty wooden worktop is extended out – over the granite worktop covering the remainder of the island – to form a dedicated dining area. Simple placement with bar stools helps to enhance the signals for its dining function.

    26. Inject a bold accent colour on the island

    red kitchen island

    Image credit: Magnet

    A kitchen island is the perfect place to welcome a brave colour choice in a kitchen colour scheme. While the colour is permanent it is not as daring as choosing a whole kitchen with coloured cabinets.

    You could always repaint the island at some point down the line, should you have a change of heart with the bold hue.

    27. Power up your island

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    It’s vital you include ample plug sockets on your island. They’re not only useful for powering small appliances like stand mixers and food processors, they’ll also be handy for charging phones and laptops – as working from home continues to be a way of life.

    The timber stools have bags of character, and work beautifully with the pale blue island, giving the overall scheme a subtle coastal feel.

    28. And make smart choices when it comes to power supply

    white kitchen island with USB ports

    image credit: Harvey Jones

    More than just ensuring the island is connected to the power supply – think about the right kind of power. Harvey Jones kitchen designer Matt Baker advises, ‘If you need power points in an island cabling will need to laid before screed is put down. Sockets can then be fitted before the worktops are installed.’

    He goes on to add, ‘I would personally urge every customer to go with sockets that have USB slots in them these days, as most of our tech uses these to charge.’

    29. Raise the bar

    Kitchen island ideas with raised dining section

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Rachel Smith

    Adding an elevated shelf to one side of the kitchen island transforms the space into a functional dining area. Lifting the bar to a higher level than the island helps to define it’s purpose as a dedicated dining space. Equally the higher height might suit as a working from home space, if standing is preferred.

    30. Go with the flow in open-plan kitchens

    open plan kitchen with pink living area and bar

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Veronica Rodriguez

    Open-plan living spaces often benefit from identifying dedicated spaces within the layout, for different purposes. Floating a kitchen island doesn’t interrupt the flow of the floor plan,  but it does clearly define the kitchen functionality within the space. Just as a dining table sets the scene for dining.

    31. Choose compact for a small kitchen layout

    small kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Even the tiniest of kitchen spaces can welcome an island, so your small kitchen ideas needn’t be compromised. Ensure the design is compact enough to fit but sizeable enough to fulfil its purpose.

    Just ensure you have enough area to accommodate space between any hot kitchen apparatus and guests enjoying the breakfast bar.

    32. Balance a layout

    blue kitchen with gold handles

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    Welcome an island into a kitchen to enhance the form and function of the space. The extra unit provides more work surface for food prep and dining when paired with bar stools.

    Continue a colour scheme in an all-white space by choosing the same design for the kitchen island as that of the main kitchen design. The splash of central colour in the room helps to cement the look further.

    33. Compliment colour throughout

    navy kitchen ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Chris Snook

    Create a cohesive colour scheme throughout by using the same colour for every detail in a kitchen space. From the island to the wall cabinets, from lighting to the accessories, make it match to uniform a space.

    34. Add in a shelf for cookery books

    kitchen island ideas 5

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    The best place to store cookery books? In the kitchen of course! Adding a few kitchen shelving ideas into your island will ensure all your favourite cookbooks are easy to hand.

    This is an easy hack for adding personality and colour into a neutral kitchen.

    35. Drop in a kitchen sink

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC

    A large sink in a kitchen island might be a little controversial, but is a great solution if you’re struggling for space.

    In this kitchen, the space that the sink would have taken up against a wall worktop has been transformed into much needed storage leaving the sink in the easily accessible island.

    36. Dazzle diners with gold

    white kitchen with gold

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Veronica Rodriguez

    Make a freestanding island stand out all the more with the addition of a luxe finish. A touch of gold on the underside helps to make the island take on a role of function and fabulous form.

    37. Strike a balance with storage and seating

    White kitchen with kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ James French

    Work with a smart design that provides optimum storage space for all your kitchen needs on one side, while providing a bar of seating along the other side.

    38. Create multi-functional storage with seagrass baskets

    Kitchen island ideas 4

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    Deep shelves in an island can be tricky, however with the help of some seagrass baskets they can be transformed into picture-perfect storage. To recreate this glamorous vintage theme, alternate the shelves with storage baskets and your favourite vintage-style crockery.

    39. Position an island opposite a window wall

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Alasdair Macintosh

    Floor-to-ceilings sliding windows in a kitchen extension look gorgeous but can cut down on the space available for storage. An easy solution is to introduce a slick island with space for drawers and cupboards just in front of the window.

    Not only does this double the work surface and storage, but you can also hide breakfast bar stools behind it to keep the space looking slick.

    40. Install a fridge in your kitchen island

    White and grey kitchen with large island

    Image credit: Future PLC

    A small undercounter fridge is a great addition in a large workstation. It can hold fresh food to be prepped on the island or be filled with drinks for guests to help themselves to, without disturbing the chef.

    An extra fridge in a central island is perfect for keeping fruit, vegetable and salads cool and close at hand for prepping. Lunch and breakfast time ingredients – jams, butter and cheeses – are best kept in this fridge for quick and easy meal preparation.

    41. Go for a classic colour combo

    Large white kitchen with navy blue kitchen island with bar stool seats

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    Choose a Shaker-style island in on-trend navy blue and create a country kitchen with a very modern twist.

    This design features a built-in sink, cupboard storage, a marble top, staging-style shelving and one side dedicated to breakfast bar seating. Combine with grey wall units and a range cooker for the perfect mix of classic and contemporary.

    42. Make a statement with bright bar stools

    grey kitchen with marble kitchen island with bold blue chairs

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    New cabinetry is a big investment. So it’s understandable that you might not want to be too experimental with colour. If that’s the case, why not introduce a brighter shade through accessories that are easier to switch out if you get bored – like these statement bar stools?

    For something less permanent, a vase of flowers will do the job!

    43. Fashion bespoke bookends

    Light grey kitchen with stone topped kitchen island with wooden bar stools

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    Create your own book ends with a bespoke design. Either side of your seating, allow enough space to fashion shelving that can act as mini bookcases. The wooden stools in the same material as the bookcases helps to add warmth to the otherwise cool scheme.

    44. Make it as multifunctional as possible

    Black kitchen with central marble island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

    Look closely at this classy, understated kitchen island and you’ll discover it serves a multitude of purposes – a place to wash, prep food, with a neat breakfast bar to eat at with tucked-under stools. There would be plenty of space to add a hob if you wanted, too. 

    45. Keep it tidy with drawers

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Brett Charles

    Echo the homely feel of a country kitchen with a pastel blue centrepiece island. In an otherwise neutral scheme, this island adds a subtle injection of colour and draws the eye to its charming display of drawers and white knobs.

    Fill them with everything you need to lay the table, but leave a few empty so that you have somewhere to hide clutter when unexpected visitors arrive.

    46. Squeeze in a slimline island

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Giles

    You don’t need a vast kitchen to fit in an island, as this skinny design proves. It even doubles as a breakfast bar, courtesy of a simple overhanging work surface.

    Tongue and groove panelling integrates the piece with the rest of the Shaker-style scheme, while the light and bright colour scheme helps to make the room feel spacious.

    47. Upcycle your own mini island

    White kitchen with aqua tiled splashback and yellow freestanding kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Jamie Mason

    For an easy and affordable way to create a pretty and practical feature in a kitchen, upcycle a vintage table and use it as an island.

    Choose any paint colour you wish to transform your centrepiece – this sunny yellow is a particularly cheery choice – and add a stool in a contrasting colour to complete the look.

    48. Go large


    Image credit: Future PLC/ Nicholas Yarsley

    If you’ve got the space, why be afraid to use it? At the heart of this spacious open-plan kitchen is an immense island with a glossy white worktop and dramatic dark grey Shaker-style cabinetry.

    This multifunctional unit has everything, including the kitchen sink! There’s infinite space to prep food, abundant storage and even an integrated dining area. If you have a generous kitchen that craves a show-stopping centre piece like this, think big, useful and above all, striking.

    49. Upcycle reclaimed wood

    Kitchen island ideas

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Matthew Williams

    Remember those railway sleepers everyone used to put in their gardens? Well now they’re creeping into kitchen design. The chunky proportions make them ideal for craggy, rugged shelving and their solidity works well for a breakfast bar too.

    Consider a second-hand kitchen to give a new lease of life to used kitchen units and worktops that are big on quality, low on costs.

    50. Supersize an island to make a big impression

    extra long kitchen island in open plan kitchen

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Veronica Rodriguez

    If you have the space, fill it with a kitchen island. This produces a very modern kitchen design with an expansive countertop that serves as a casual eating spot as well as a practical worksurface for food prep.

    Emphasise its importance with a run of low-slung industrial-style pendants on high and leather-upholstered stools below.

    51. Update an existing kitchen with a traditional butcher’s block

    Cream country kitchen with cream Aga wooden worktops and stone flooring

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Polly Eltes

    This simple way to add more prep space and storage into a U-shaped kitchen idea is also extremely elegant. A chunky end-grain surface will take a lot of culinary punishment and the open shelf at the bottom provides easy access to cookware. What’s more the design would work just as well with slab-style units.

    52. Hide the clutter

    Kitchen with upcycled wooden kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Holly Joliffe

    A taller, or ‘flying’ breakfast bar like this one serves two purposes. Firstly, its height is great for more casual eating and drinking. And second, if you do make a mess in the kitchen, it’s obscured from view of guests by the bar. Genius, no?!

    53. Keep the design slimline

    White kitchen island idea

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Alistair Nicholls

    Incorporate a slimline kitchen island to mirror the surrounding work surfaces, in order for the island to feel like merely a detached counter.

    This idea is ideal for smaller kitchens to prevent surfaces from feeling imposing on the compact space. Use white worktops and materials to retain a light and airy feel. Add seating under one end of a slim kitchen island to save further space, allowing stools to be tucked away when not in use.

    54. Make a statement with mosaics

    kitchen island with mosaic tiles

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Dominic Blackmore

    Make the island shine bright with a generous helping of iridescent tiles. Not only will they add decoration, they provide an easy to clean surface, ideal for a kitchen.

    55. Pick out an alternative finish

    green kitchen island idea in white kitchen

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Colin Poole

    A freestanding kitchen piece of furniture allows you not only the freedom to incorporate an accent colour, it also allows you to add a different material and surface finish. If your kitchen units are classic Shaker-style you could introduce a panelled island to add further rustic charm.

    Painting the wooden island in a shade of fresh mint green adds another design element of classic country style.

    56. Disguise the design

    kitchen island as a dining table

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Katie Lee

    There’s no saying a kitchen island has to always be a block that stands out, as this example proves. This smart kitchen island feels more like a wooden dining table, where the worktop has been seamlessly continued over to form an extended dining area.

    This clever idea eradicates the need for a separate dining table in the kitchen, yet it  doesn’t feel like you’re sat at the kitchen worktop for fine dining.

    57. Double the size for dedicated dining

    Cream kitchen with exposed brick wall and black quartz worktop

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Robert Sanderson

    Go all out on a bespoke design to allow for ample dining space. There’s nothing worse than a kitchen island that  doesn’t cater to your needs. If the heart of your home is a space for entertaining, ensure the island design is tailored to accommodate this.

    58. Make the most of space with oversized drawers

    light wooden kitchen island with large drawers

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    Allow just enough room for a breakfast bar at one end, to tuck bar stools under – utilising the rest of the island as valuable kitchen storage.

    Choose oversized pull out drawers to store all your kitchen pans and crockery to keep everything central and within reach for any kitchen task. ask your kitchen design for ideas about in drawer separators and racks to make the storage work even harder.

    59. Set tasks to one side

    Industrial style kitchen with brick walls grey kitchen cabinets and black metal pendant lights and bar stools

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Simon Whitmore

    Allow the use of your kitchen island to be a totally separate area from your everyday cooking area. Set it up as a Bake Off-style bench where you keep all your large kitchen appliances like stand mixers to one area.

    Use the storage space within the island to house all your baking tools, away from the everyday utensils draw. A great idea to avoid the ‘now, where did I put that balloon whisk attachment?’

    60. Think outside the box for the shape

    curved kitchen island idea

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Darren Chung

    Make it your own with a total bespoke design. If you want to create a space that intrigues and breaks confirming kitchen design trends, go freestyle with your finished kitchen design.

    Working with your chosen kitchen designer, work up a creative shape that suits your style tastes and fulfils the needs of your kitchen.

    61. Float an island when wall space is limited

    grey kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Tom Meadows

    Kitchen islands are the ideal solution when the space is limited on walls to utilise. A kitchen island can float in the middle of a space, meaning it doesn’t need to be anchored to a wall. It allows for storage and more all without interrupting the flow of the open-plan space.

    Another benefit of a kitchen island is the design will automatically enhance your kitchen decor, with no need to go on the hunt for a complementary table and chairs to fit into the space.

    62. Put an extra sink in place

    kitchen island sink

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Alistair Nicholls

    Putting in a extra, small sink is a great idea for a kitchen that loves to entertain. Consider this the ‘bar’ area, where the sink is used additional to the main sink. Or the hand washing station, to save garden dirt or germs from being anywhere near the sink you wash groceries in.

    This can also be a great idea for safety measure,  in kitchen that features a hot tap for instance, allowing the children to use the separate sink– safe in the knowledge they can’t accidentally use the wrong tap.

    63. Take a stand with an imaginative design

    Kitchen island with tulip style stand

    Image credit: Future PLC/ James French

    Tulip-style dining tables are a popular choice for retro interior design choices. To make your kitchen island fashionably unique and imaginative why not base your kitchen island design on the same style principles.

    Only instead of the Tulip base supporting a round table top, it will instead form the foundation for a quirky kitchen island.

    64. Break up the layout with an accent colour

    Lilac kitchen island in a neutral kitchen

    Image credit: Future PLC/ David Parmiter

    Where the rest of the kitchen is safe in neutral shades the island is where you can afford to have fun with an accent colour. Especially if you have a design that can be painted with ease, should you change your mind on the chosen accent colour. Wood panelling is the ideal design choice, if repainting for future makeovers.

    Contrasting the worktop choice with the surrounding kitchen surfaces will help to signal the island as a standalone piece – one that is not made to match.

    65. Create curves within the space

    curved kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Richard Gadsby

    Add interest to your kitchen space with a curved kitchen island design. Enhance the quirkiness further by mixing materials and finishes, to highlight the curvature.

    66. Allow for a change of purpose

    blue kitchen island

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Douglas Gibb

    Incorporating open elements to the kitchen island design will give freedom to change how the storage space is used. Whether you buy new appliances or new cook books, the way you choose to style the kitchen may evolve – so best to keep space free to suit.

    67. Position with a practical path in mind

    Image credit: Future PLC/ Fiona Walker-Arnott

    Position a kitchen island thoughtfully, making the most of an outside space. Thinking how handy the extra space will become when the doors are thrown open, proving plentiful surface space to aid alfresco entertaining.

    Even during the colder months, when the doors stay closed, the freestanding piece can welcome a break from the wall of glass doors.

    What is the best size for a kitchen island?

    What is the best size for a kitchen island will depend on the size of the kitchen. But even the smallest of kitchens can allow for a kitchen island, it will just be more compact. Once your determine the size of floorspace free to allocate for a kitchen island you can begin to plan the size based on needs.

    When it comes to picking the size of your island, measure your floor to make sure it will fit. ‘When planning your kitchen be careful not to be over ambitious with freestanding elements,’ advises Ben Burbidge, managing director at Kitchen Makers. ‘Ensure you precisely measure your floor so that an island will fit comfortably within your space.

    ‘When placed in the centre it should leave enough floor for you to manoeuvre around and access the rest of the kitchen. The area under the islands worktop is also essential as it offers amply space for storage and kitchen essentials such as low fridges and deep drawers.’

    If you require storage from the island design you will need to factor in the dimensions – because this will determine whether there’s enough space to allow legroom underneath, so the island can double up as a breakfast bar.

    What shape kitchen island should I choose?

    A shaped island unit can also help direct the flow of traffic away from busy hotspots. An island can be long and slim, running parallel to the work area; neat and round in a compact room; or big and broad, housing a sink and appliances.

    “Make the ‘entertaining’ section slightly higher than the cooking and preparation area,’ says Alex Main, Director at The Main Company. ‘And bear in mind to keep a safe distance from any hobs or hot taps when designing your kitchen.’

    ‘Create an l-shape seating area to ensure stools are not in one long line as this makes chatting to each other a neck-cricking exercise. Also remember to break the surface of the island up with cooking or washing up components to ensure it’s used to its full potential and to prevent it becoming a dumping ground!’

    How do you make an inexpensive kitchen island?

    How do you make an inexpensive kitchen island if on a budget? A great budget kitchen idea for creating an island is to buy an inexpensive freestanding piece of furniture, such as a butchers block. IKEA is the ideal place to head, with the retailer offering a whole variety of affordable freestanding furniture pieces.

    This cheap option also gives you the freedom to move things around, as the pieces are moveable – most commonly designs feature castor wheels on one side for easy movement.

    IKEA black kitchen island

    Image credit: IKEA

    How do you style a kitchen island?

    How you style a kitchen island will be determined by the proposed use. If the island is focused on function it’s best to style with storage, from compact cupboards to open units filled with woven baskets. If the island is more about creating a dining area style the space with inviting elements, such as comfortable seating complete with cushions.

    Will you be adding a kitchen island to your cooking space using these kitchen island ideas?

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