23 kitchen island ideas – practical but pretty ways to add a focal point | Real Homes

23 kitchen island ideas – practical but pretty ways to add a focal point

Our kitchen island ideas will definitely persuade you to add one to your space...

Kitchen island ideas
(Image credit: Amara)

Just try and look at these gorgeous kitchen island ideas and not want to add one to your own kitchen instantly. Stylish and with heaps of added storage and surface space, whatever the style of your kitchen, kitchen island units offer a multi-functional way of using your space.

If you have modern kitchen or a period style space, we have plenty beautiful ideas below to get your creative juices flowing. And when you're looking for more kitchen ideas and inspiration be sure to check out our feature.

  • Wondering where exactly a kitchen island should go? Find out in our guide to kitchen design

1. Get the positioning and sizing of your kitchen island right

January 2020: Debbie Goodwin set about lovingly renovating the bungalow her dad built

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The best kitchen islands are carefully positioned to aid easy travel around the kitchen – aim for at least a 90cm to 110cm wide walkway in high traffic areas around the fridge and sink. And don't forget to allow space for dishwasher doors and extending drawers. Incorporating a sink and/or hob helps to centralise food preparation, bringing the chef into the action. Be unashamedly bold with your kitchen island lighting to ensure it takes centre-stage.

2. Go for glass doors in your kitchen island unit 

Martin Moore's English Collection

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

Nobody ever complained of too much kitchen storage, but it needn’t all be purely practical when it comes to kitchen island ideas. Glass doors provide a pretty dresser-style display feature that’s perfect for showing off vintage glassware and treasured ceramics. Bespoke kitchens from Martin Moore’s English Collection start from £35,000.

3. Find slim fit kitchen island ideas for narrow rooms

Sebastian Cox Kitchen sideboard by deVOL

(Image credit: deVOL)

If space is tight, freestanding kitchen furniture, such as a sideboard can be repurposed to add extra prep areas and storage without crowding you out. Do make sure the rear of the cabinet is smartly finished (some have back panels in a cheaper, thinner board). We love the aged copper worktop added to this Sebastian Cox Kitchen sideboard by deVOL, priced from £2,700.

4. Divide the cooking and dining areas with an island

Burbidge’s Gresham range in Antique grey Chamois and Putty

(Image credit: Burbidge)

Looking for kitchen island ideas for a large open-plan kitchens? An L-shape kitchen island is a fantastically flexible way to define the cooking area while adding oodles of worktop. This stylish design features a generous breakfast bar – the perfect spot to park guests while you rustle up supper. Burbidge’s Gresham range in Antique grey Chamois and Putty starts from £12,000.

If you are planning to incorporate a breakfast bar into your kitchen island, you are going to want to have a look at these island seating ideas

5. Make your kitchen island a sink station

Charlie Kingham’s Shoreditch collection

(Image credit: Charlie Kingham)

Installing the sink in your kitchen island is a sociable option that allows you to look out into the room – and possibly garden beyond – while you work. This bespoke undermounted sink is in the same honed Arabescato marble as the worktop for a sleek, seamless finish. Add a boiling water tap for speedy brews. Charlie Kingham’s Shoreditch collection starts from £20,000. 

6. Minimise the kitchen island unit's proportions

Kitchen island from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

It’s tempting to think big when planning a kitchen island but really large designs can prove overpowering. Dropping one corner unit creates a far more dynamic shape that feels less bulky. Pop on a cushion for a snug seating nook. This island features Ikea’s Uddevalla blackboard door, from £15; Ringhult door in high gloss white, from £22, and Säljan worktop in white, from £40. 

7. Choose an island with curve appeal

Magnet kitchen island ideas

(Image credit: Magnet )

When you're looking for kitchen island ideas, think form, too. Gently curved kitchen cabinetry softens the sharp lines and hard surfaces found in kitchens, can help make small kitchens feel more spacious, and will improve the natural traffic flow around the island. They’re far kinder on small children’s foreheads, too! We love Magnet’s Winchester kitchen a very modern take on a curved kitchen. 

8. Include bold island lighting

Neptune Suffolk Kitchen

(Image credit: Neptune)

Kitchen island lights can take your kitchen island to the next level. Use dramatic kitchen light fittings to anchor your kitchen island unit and ramp up the wow factor. A line of pendants can be especially effective – odd numbers work best – or go for a single outsized shade, like this Byron Pendant , £50, to really impress. Neptune’s Suffolk kitchen starts from £16,000. 

For the full low down on kitchen lighting ideas have a read of our guide. 

9. Opt for dual worktops

Masterclass Kitchens' Ashbourne range

(Image credit: Masterclass Kitchens)

Opting for split surfaces is a simple but incredibly effective way of adding interest to your kitchen island. Here, the breakfast bar is made from solid wood, which is kind on elbows and crockery, while the hardworking prep side is a more durable composite quartz surface. Masterclass Kitchens’ Ashbourne range, shown in Graphite, starts from £7,500. Choose the right kitchen worktops with our guide to kitchen worktop materials.

10. Got a small kitchen? Incorporate a butcher's block instead

aga in period kitchen

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

Fitting a whole island into a small kitchen design isn't the most realistic plan, but if you love that flexible, freestanding look that an island brings to a space, you can always create a similar effect with a butcher's block. They are much more compact than an island but can still give you extra surface space and extra storage, plus of course, they act as an important focal point in the room, however small. You'll find a few options in our round up of the best kitchen trolleys so go and have a nosey over there. Or you could of course pick up a lovely reclaimed or secondhand one on eBay. Our advice? Keep it colour light – that way the room won't feel crowded.

11. Look for mirrored kitchen island ideas to stretch space

Wren Kitchens' Mirage Kitchen Island

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Keep the kitchen island unit love alive by thinking outside the box in terms of both shape and materials. Wren’s Mirage Island, £4,948 as shown, is a compelling combination of geometric quartz and mirrored glass that can’t fail to impress.  

12. Give your kitchen island an industrial edge

This rustic island unit is made from salvaged oak beams, fused with hand-welded metalwork for an on-trend industrial touch. From Clayton Cabinets

(Image credit: Clayton Cabinets)

Looking for kitchen island ideas that are just a little bit different? Deliberately contrasting old and new can prove extremely arresting, and often a little kinder on the environment, too. This rustic, industrial-style kitchen island unit is made from salvaged oak beams, fused with hand-welded metalwork for an on-trend industrial touch. Bespoke kitchens start from £21,000 at Clayton Cabinets.  

Love the industrial look? Us too, hence why we have dedicated an entire feature to industrial kitchen ideas. You can thank us later. 

13. Go for a contemporary take on the rustic look

The Weybridge Kitchen by The Main Company

(Image credit: The Main Company)

Get the balance right between contemporary and rustic styles by choosing a freestanding kitchen island idea that combines traditional craftsmanship with a modern feature, such as a sleek contemporary – and very practical – worktop. 

Easy and cheaper to install because these types of islands don't require plumbing or wiring for sinks or hobs, they're the perfect prep spaces for the keen cook. This design cleverly accommodates kitchen island seating and storage. 

The clean lines and on trend – but also forever classic – grey kitchen cabinetry combine with the sleek worktop to create the perfect combination of contemporary and traditional design. 

The Weybridge Kitchen by The Main Company features classic handcrafted cabinetry and a light-reflecting quartzite worktop. 

We've got plenty more grey kitchen ideas for you to swoon over. 

14. Go all-marble for maximum design impact

kitchen by Blakes London

(Image credit: Blakes London)

Kitchen islands come in a wide variety of materials and finishes, but for maximum design impact, nothing beats an all-marble island. 

This kitchen by Blakes London has been taken to the next level with a marble island that showcases the unique veined pattern in the stone; luxurious yet understated. 

15. Or mix marble with other luxe materials 

large kitchen with dark scheme and large quartz island with gold section by caesarstone

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

Marble continues to be one of the most popular stone styles for kitchen worktops – and we can see why: sophisticated and stylish, it adds a timeless feel to any interior. 

If you're designing a kitchen with a luxe, yet contemporary feel, consider combining a stylishly understated white marble with contrasting, stand-out elements – we love this use of an on-trend metallic.

Part of the Empira White collection by Caesarstone, this marble-effect quartz surface mirrors the complexity of natural stone but with ease of maintenance and durability key, making it the perfect solution if you're looking for a damage-resistant worktop material for a well-used kitchen.

Take a look at our luxury kitchen ideas if this interior style has caught your eye.

16. Add bar stools to your kitchen island unit 

Veerusha Diah and Yogesh Bhola's extended Woodford Green home is an uber-stylish space to hang out

(Image credit: James French)

What works so well with this kitchen island is that it's truly multi-functional. Spot the hob, while we're loving the storage cupboard space too, but what's really bringing this look together is the addition of bar stools. It means that one person can cook, while the other(s) can sit at the breakfast bar. It's sleek, modern, and the steel legs of the dinning rooms chairs match the bar stools also, creating relaxed yet very appealing uniformity.

17. Opt for wheels on your kitchen island for flexibility

Kitchen island ideas

(Image credit: Amara)

Pared back kitchens are starting to appear – no more fussy fixtures and fittings and matchy matchy wall and base units. This delightful design by Amara is beautiful in its simplicity, it follows through the style of the base units and shows how useful an island can be. AND it’s on wheels – so you can move it around, which in our book, is one of the most useful things ever! 

18. Take it with you when you move – the freestanding IKEA kitchen island

Kitchen island ideas

(Image credit: Ikea)

For those who don’t have an expansive kitchen, the VADHOLMA from Ikea will serve you well. Freestanding kitchens give you freedom to move pieces where you want them, and you can change them about too – so you are essentially designing your own kitchen to suit your needs. This island offers extra storage and a great oak worktop – all for a great value price! 

19. Choose an unusual finish to make your kitchen island stand out

Kitchen island ideas

(Image credit: Verde Tinos)

Kitchen islands are designed to give you that extra space – and they often have to work very hard. They double as a worktop, storage space and breakfast bar. So why not give yours special treatment like this eye-catching design that features Verde Tinos Carrara slab? The all round marble ensures the island is the focal point of the kitchen and doesn’t it look fabulous!

20. Integrate open shelving into your island

Pendant light ideas: blue kitchen and island with marble countertop, parquet flooring, and three pink pendant lights over the island

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies © Future)

We're super envious of homeowner Lingjing Yin's gorgeous kitchen, but her blue island is the real showstopper, complete with open shelving to display cookbooks, plants and trinkets. Open shelving too hazardous with little ones around? Try glazed cabinets – we promise they've had a modern makeover. Lingjing's kitchen was made by Kraftwork and painted in Basalt by Little Greene

21. Contrast your island with your kitchen units

Lily Pickard house: kitchen with dark kitchen units

(Image credit: Malcolm Menzies ©Future)

If you prefer your island to stand out rather than blend in, opt for a different material or colour to your main kitchen units. Here, homeowner Lily Pickard has chosen a subtle twist for her island, contrasting a black composite worktop with a wood-topped island. 

22. Pair a wooden island with a daring splash of colour

Modern kitchen with large island unit and white herringbone wall tiles

(Image credit: Rachael Smith)

Homeowner Rhiannon Payne used her kitchen island as an opportunity to introduce colour to an otherwise neutral kitchen – and pairing the splash of pink with the natural tones and texture of plywood makes for a subtle take on a bolder scheme . This island was made by a now defunct business, and the Ikea kitchen units were personalised with doors and drawer fronts from Matt Antrobus.

23. Create the illusion of a floating island

Prue de Wynter:

(Image credit: Chris Snook © Future)

This clever floating island belongs to architect and homeowner Prue de Wynter. Playing on the floor-expanding, space-saving illusion of wall-hung furniture and sanitaryware, this design uses a small base to create the effect of an island suspended in the air, adding a futuristic feel to a very modern space. Smart, eh? The kitchen is from Woodcam

More kitchen know-how: