The Top 69 Kitchen Island Ideas
Adding a kitchen island is a great way to gain extra counter space and storage space in your kitchen. But perhaps an island’s greatest power is how it invariably becomes the preferred gathering spot for your family and friends.
Depending on what elements you include in your island design, it can serve as a cooking, cleaning, dining, and/or prep space. If you don’t want to commit to a full kitchen remodel, you can still enjoy some of the benefits of an island by purchasing a movable kitchen island. Check out our collection of best kitchen island ideas and you’ll likely find one that’s perfect for your home.
A contemporary kitchen benefits from a kitchen island that reflects modern kitchen design’s clean lines and surfaces. A pure white marble or quartz countertop is ideal in a contemporary kitchen, but darker marble or stainless steel work equally well. A grey or other neutral color palette allows your contemporary texture and design to stand out.
Even so, color is definitely at home in contemporary kitchen design. Try a clear glass countertop on a brightly painted minimalist kitchen island. Go with hot pink, bright turquoise, or another favorite color to create a dramatic rectangular kitchen island. A bold metal pendant light fixture completes the look.
Since counter space is one of the benefits of having a kitchen island, put some serious thought into the type of countertop you choose. Not only does the material matter, the design plays a big part in the overall appearance of your island. Waterfall countertops are currently popular, where the marble or quartz surface “falls” over the corners to extend to the floor in one smooth line.
A cantilevered countertop is one that creates bar seating beneath the surface. It doesn’t have legs supporting it. There may be no additional support required, or it may be supported by corbels or brackets beneath. Marble, granite, or butcher block countertops are good choices when cantilevering is desired.
If you want a custom kitchen island, you can hire a contractor to build it, or attempt to DIY. If your DIY skills are minimal, your best bet is to let an experienced cabinetry expert know your needs and allow them to create the perfect kitchen island design.
Be specific with your requests. Decide if you want your storage to include open shelving or a classic kitchen cabinet design. A good balance is to have open shelves on the external side and cabinet doors on the interior side.
If you’re a relatively good woodworker, a DIY kitchen island may be a fun project to tackle. When you do it yourself, you can save money by using reclaimed wood or countertops. Hundreds of DIY kitchen island idea plans can be found online, including this one that features an under-counter microwave, seating, storage, and a marble quartz countertop:
A portable kitchen island can also be a good DIY project for a smaller kitchen. This small kitchen island on wheels has a clean, basic style that will fit into any type of home decor:
For a cohesive appearance, design your kitchen island ideas around the existing countertops and materials already present in your kitchen. For example, if you have a white marble countertop, put that on the island, too. If you have brass fixtures on the kitchen sink, use brass drawer pulls on your island cabinetry.
This isn’t a hard-and-fast rule, however. Sometimes the best kitchen island ideas are those that completely contrast the rest of the room. Paint your kitchen island an entirely different color from the rest of your cabinetry. Any shade of blue adds a swath of peace and calm to your kitchen, while yellow or red amplify the vibration of a busy home kitchen.
A farmhouse kitchen is a great space to include a wood island, especially if it’s covered in white shiplap. Remember that farmhouse design includes lots of white paired with warm wood and dark metal accents. Any combination of these features will result in a great farmhouse kitchen island design.
With farmhouse decor, it’s especially popular to make your island look like a freestanding piece of furniture. Adding short legs to the bottom of your kitchen island is a simple way to achieve this look. A wooden, copper or galvanized steel range hood adds farmhouse style over an island stove.
Adequate island lighting is a must, especially if it’s where you most frequently use your knives. Pendant lights are a popular choice over kitchen islands, and can be found in modern, rustic, whimsical, or traditional designs.
Long, narrow chandeliers are another good island lighting option. If your ceilings are low, recessed lighting might be the best way to illuminate your island. If you have a small kitchen or a movable kitchen island, you may not need additional lighting over the island.
Outdoor kitchens benefit from islands, too. Counter space may be limited in an outdoor kitchen, making the addition of an island necessary to accomplish serious cooking tasks.
If you only have room on the patio for a dining table or an island, go with the kitchen island. Include a cantilevered surface and use bar stools for seating. Be sure to construct your outdoor island with weatherproofed materials, even if your outdoor kitchen is in a covered location.
Since warm wood finishes are a mainstay of rustic decor, a butcher block island is the perfect kitchen island idea in a rustic space. Extend the island countertop to create a seating area and park rustic barstools beneath it.
Dark marble or granite countertop surfaces may also fit well into a rustic kitchen design. A concrete countertop is ideal if your rustic tastes trend toward an industrial vibe. Mix it up by incorporating concrete, stainless steel, and butcher block surfaces on your island.
If you have a small kitchen that has no room for a breakfast nook or dining table, island seating can be a great alternative. Choose a bar stool design that works well with your decor and enjoy comfortable, casual dining.
Upholstered island seats are more comfortable than hard surfaces, but you should spray them with fabric protectant for easier cleaning. Choose a fabric that ties together the different colors and overall style your kitchen represents.
If your kitchen space allows it, a kitchen island can be a great place to include a sink. Whether it’s your main kitchen sink, an apron-front farmhouse sink, or a small secondary sink, it will multiply your island’s usefulness.
Of course, installing new plumbing will greatly increase the cost of adding a new kitchen island. However, you may find the expense well worth it in exchange for more useful work space. A secondary sink is also a great spot to introduce copper or another unique finish into your kitchen design.
A need for more storage is a common reason homeowners add an island to their kitchen floor plan. Include as many shelves, drawers, and cabinets as the space allows. If extra storage space is your primary reason for adding a kitchen island, don’t waste space by relocating a microwave or other appliance there.
Hang a decorative pot rack over your island to further expand its storage options. A wine rack is a nice addition to the end of a permanent kitchen island. Have an electrician add outlets to your island so you can use your mixer and other small appliances in the same area they’re stored.
Although kitchen islands haven’t always been part of American kitchen design, they still work well in traditional home interiors. The colors and details you use are what gives your island a traditional look and makes it seem that it was included in the original construction.
Marble, granite, and other natural stone surfaces are traditional countertop materials. If you love to bake, marble is a must even if you don’t want it covering the entire countertop. Marble stays cool longer than other materials, making it the perfect counter space surface for rolling out dough or fondant.
Kitchen Island FAQs
The best size is whatever allows enough room for people to easily move around the kitchen island. A good minimum kitchen island size is 4 feet by 2.5 feet. If you have an oven or dishwasher under your island countertop, make sure there’s room for the doors to swing open freely.
Even if you have a large kitchen, don’t oversize your custom kitchen island. If it’s too big, you won’t be able to reach far enough to clean the middle or even utilize that space. It’s better to build two smaller islands than one giant feature.
If you want your island the same height as your kitchen countertop, make it 36” tall. If you prefer a bar height, make it 42” tall. Be sure to include a countertop overhang between 12 and 15 inches so that everyone’s knees slide under comfortably.