Kitchen island ideas: 14 ways to create a focal point in your kitchen

On the hunt for kitchen island ideas? We've got loads of lovely, inspiring ways to add one to your space no matter your style or budget, or the size of your kitchen

Neptune kitchen island ideas
(Image credit: Neptune)

On the look out for some kitchen island ideas? They do seem to be the most covetable feature of kitchen at the moment as we all move to a more open plan, multi-functional way of designing our homes. Plus, of course, they're practical, offer tons of useful storage and worktop space, and they make for a focal point that really make a kitchen feel like a sociable space.

So whether you like a traditional farmhouse style kitchen or something super modern and sleek, we've got you covered with a whole range of kitchen island ideas that include everything from storage to lighting...

Wondering where exactly a kitchen island should go? Find out in our ultimate guide to planning and designing a kitchen.

Positioning and sizing your kitchen island

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 island lighting to ensure it takes centre-stage.

1. Choose glass doors to display china and glassware

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.

Martin Moore's English Collection

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

2. Find slim fit kitchen island ideas for narrow rooms

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.

Sebastian Cox Kitchen sideboard by deVOL

(Image credit: deVOL)

3. Divide the cooking and dining areas with an island

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

Burbidge’s Gresham range in Antique grey Chamois and Putty

(Image credit: Burbidge)

4. Make your kitchen island a sink station

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. 

Charlie Kingham’s Shoreditch collection

(Image credit: Charlie Kingham)

5. Minimise the kitchen island's proportions

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. 

Kitchen island from Ikea

(Image credit: Ikea)

6. Choose an island with curve appeal

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! Magnet’s Somerton Duck Egg kitchen starts from £847 for a 60cm base unit.  

For more curved kitchen ideas check out our in depth design feature.  

Magnet’s Somerton Duck Egg kitchen

(Image credit: Magnet)

7. Include bold island lighting

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 , £150, to really impress. Neptune’s Suffolk kitchen starts from £16,000. 

For the full low down on how to choose and plan the right lighting for your kitchen have a read of our guide. 

Neptune Suffolk Kitchen

(Image credit: Neptune)

8. Opt for dual worktops

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.

Masterclass Kitchens' Ashbourne range

(Image credit: Masterclass Kitchens)

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

Fitting a whole island into a small kitchen 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.

aga in period kitchen

(Image credit: Colin Poole)

10. Look for mirrored kitchen island ideas to stretch space

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.  

Wren Kitchens' Mirage Kitchen Island

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

11. 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 style kitchen design ideas. You can thank us later. 

12. Go for a contemporary take on the rustic look


(Image credit: Period Living)

A subscription to Period Living magazine is the perfect source of inspiration for anyone who owns an older property, or just loves characterful style. For a limited time, when you subscribe for six months for £20, you will receive an Annie Sloan Chalk Paint set worth £30

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 design ideas for you to swoon over. 

The Weybridge Kitchen by The Main Company

(Image credit: The Main Company)

13. Go all-marble for maximum design impact

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. 

kitchen by Blakes London

(Image credit: Blakes London)

14. Or mix marble with other luxe materials 

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 design ideas if this interior style has caught your eye.

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

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

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