Should a kitchen island match the cabinets? Experts explain whether you should complement or contrast

We quiz design experts on 'should a kitchen island match the cabinets?'

Should a kitchen island match the cabinets? Here is a kitchen with dark blue kitchen cabinets, with one opening up to display glassses and mugs, two wooden shelves, and a pink kitchen island with a white countertop
(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Should a kitchen island match the cabinets? You might be wondering this question if you're thinking about bringing one in and need a little guidance.

You might even already have a kitchen island and think something looks a little off. Either way, we've got you covered with advice from design experts, so you can choose the correct color and style for your space.

When scoping out kitchen island ideas, it's super important to keep in mind what's surrounding this centerpiece, as this is key to making it as stylish as possible.

Should a kitchen island match the cabinets? Our experts weigh in

When deciding on kitchen island colors, it's worth knowing whether the kitchen island should match the cabinets. This does largely depend on the size and layout of your space.

We've also rounded up some beautiful kitchen islands you can bring into your space at the end, in case you're still seeking your perfect one out.

The prices below were correct at the time of publishing this article. 

Should a kitchen island match the cabinets?

A kitchen with pale green kitchen cabinets with two built-in ovens and a curved kitchen island with matching cabinets

(Image credit: Et Lorem)

Whether you’re looking for large or small kitchen island ideas is the most important part of deciding if your kitchen island should match the cabinets.

“The choice between matching or contrasting should consider the kitchen's layout and size,” explains Pam Hutter, design expert and principal of Hutter Architects.

She continues, “Smaller kitchens often benefit from matching elements to enhance the sense of space, while larger kitchens can handle more dramatic contrasts and benefit from the added character that a distinct island brings.”

Pam also suggests considering the balance of color, texture, and form. “This will ensure the island isn’t just functional but also complements the overall design narrative of your home,” she adds.

Benefits of matching a kitchen island with cabinets

A black kitchen island with rainbow colored books and mugs in the inside shelves, a white countertop with a book and mug on it, a silver fridge, and matching black cabinets

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Matching the kitchen island and kitchen cabinets colors can create a beautiful sense of cohesion in the space. 

“This design strategy works exceptionally well in smaller kitchens where the island blends seamlessly with the surrounding cabinetry, creating a unified look,” explains Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

She’s also helpfully broken down the key benefits of matching the kitchen island to the cabinets:

  • Harmonious aesthetics: Achieve a cohesive and balanced look throughout the kitchen.
  • Visual continuity: Create a sense of expansiveness and openness, especially in smaller kitchens.
  • Streamlined design: Simplify the decision-making process by sticking to a consistent kitchen island color palette and style.

Choosing the same cabinet color and style will ultimately make the kitchen feel more expansive and harmonious.

Benefits of contrasting a kitchen island with cabinets

A white waterfall kitchen island with ashy wood back panels and stools and blue cabinets behind it with marble countertops

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

On the flip side, opting for a contrasting kitchen island introduces visual interest and adds a unique focal point to the space. 

Nina explains, “Contrasting islands can serve as statement pieces, infusing personality and character into the kitchen design.”

As well as this, Nina says the key benefits of contrasting kitchen islands to the cabinets are:

  • Bold design statement: Make a style statement and showcase your design personality.
  • Visual contrast: Add depth and dimension to the kitchen by introducing different colors or materials.
  • Flexible design options: Experiment with complementary or contrasting colors to achieve a custom look.

These approaches work well in larger kitchens or in those with a more eclectic or transitional style, allowing the island to stand out as a distinct feature.

Shop kitchen islands

If you're still on the lookout for your perfect kitchen island, these ones are perfect choices for matching and contrasting with your kitchen cabinets, depending on the layout of your home.

Whether you choose to match the kitchen island with the cabinets or create a striking contrast, the key is to balance functionality, aesthetics, and personal preference. 

“Ultimately, let your creativity and style preferences guide you in crafting the perfect kitchen space,” Nina finishes by saying.

If you’ve got other island questions on your mind, learning what a waterfall kitchen island is may also come in useful when planning how to design this feature.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.