36 gorgeous kitchen island ideas that you and your guests will love

Design experts are fans of these fab and functional kitchen island ideas

Kitchen island ideas like this one are so chic. Pictured is a sage green kitchen island with marble countertop and vegetables on it, dark green velvet bar chairs with gold legs, two gold pendant lights, and green shelves on white walls behind it
(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Debating the best kitchen island ideas for your cooking space? You want to make sure you get it right, as yours will undoubtedly become the epicenter of family life and the place that everyone gravitates towards. 

We've rounded up a whole range of kitchen island ideas to help get you started, with the help of expert advice from interior designers. From chic countertops to lovely lighting, there are plenty of ways to style yours.

If you're looking for kitchen ideas, islands work in spaces both big and small as an area for friends and family members to gather around and socialize, whilst also providing vital extra storage and functionality.

Chic kitchen island ideas to inspire

The more you start looking into islands, the more you realize how much they can enhance the design elements present in your space. These can be either timeless styles or kitchen island trends that bring big impact, and even bigger joy.

We have rounded up useful products throughout, in case you want to start making your island shine ASAP. From colorful small kitchen island ideas to more neutral options, we have plenty of inspiration.

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

1. Paint your kitchen island a fun and vibrant color

A kitchen with a bright pink kitchen island with a green vase on it, a chandelier above it, and a wooden stool next to it, with dark tile flooring

(Image credit: Devol)

Create an eye-catching look in your kitchen by going for colorful kitchen island ideas that contrasts with other elements.

"Islands offer a great opportunity to choose either a complementary finish and style or a contrasting finish and style to the rest of the kitchen," says interior designer Shannon Connor.

For example, this bright pink kitchen island contrasts beautifully with the navy cabinets and green tiles for a stand-out space.

If you've already got a kitchen island and it's looking tired, give it a fresh and vibrant coat of paint. It's simple to learn how to paint kitchen cabinets yourself for very little cost, and the steps you take are dependent on what material you're painting.

We also like the idea of complementing this with colorful and textured decor to add even more interest to the space. And don't forget a lick of fresh paint on the ceiling — learn how to paint the ceiling yourself — will brighten up the space no end.

2. Add height with island legs

A light wooden kitchen island with white surfaces, three gold globe pendant lights hanging fron it, and a black window, and two wall sconces on a white wall behind it

(Image credit: Wood Works Brighton)

If you're tight on space, freestanding kitchen furniture, such as a kitchen island on legs, can work to visually enlarge your room. 

Lifting the piece off the ground means more flooring is visible, and this works to trick the eye into making your space feel bigger than it is. 

3. Turn it into a comfy dining area

A kitchen with a dark blue kitchen island with a white marble surfaces, red and white striped bar chairs with blue legs, a gold tap, three gold and white globe pendant lights, and blue cabinets and an oven behind it

(Image credit: Gabriella James, Chairmakers)

If you want to be able to dine at your kitchen island, consider kitchen island seating from the start of your design process. 

From aesthetic industrial style wooden bar stools, to more comfy seats (we like the Orren Ellis Bar Seats from Wayfair) and padded velvet designs, there are many styles to choose from.

Ask yourself if you want a simple perch for grabbing a coffee in the morning,  enough comfort to be able to work from home there, or something more luxe to entertain guests.

4. Add grandeur and elegance with trim detail

A white kitchen with a wooden paneled ornate kitchen island and wooden bar stool

(Image credit: JLK Interiors)

Ensure your kitchen island blends in with the look, feel and period of the rest of your home. 

In an older, more historic property, an ornately paneled kitchen island like this can work to make your space feel more authentic, and blended with your home's natural bones. 

5. Add a sink

A white minimal kitchen with wooden flooring, white cabinets, and two sinks - one on the left and one on the right on the kitchen island

(Image credit: Think Chic Interiors)

This may seem like a bit of a luxury, but using your kitchen island to house a second sink is guaranteed to be a game-changer in your kitchen. 

"If you have enough room, then a sink in your island may be a great option," Shannon explains. "Keep in mind that you don't want to design a small sink just to fit it into the island. You want to ensure that you'll have enough room on the left and right of the sink to stage dirty/clean dishes."

Shannon also advises noting what is near the sink, as water tends to splash out and around this area, especially if yours is a spray faucet. Placing your sink in the wrong place could be a big kitchen island mistake.

You'll have to keep in mind that extra plumbing will be needed to install a sink in the center of your room, which could be quite costly, but we bet it'll be worth it.

6. Opt for an L-shaped island layout

A kitchen with a gray wall and cabinets, a dark gray wooden L-shaped kitchen island with white surfaces, and a corner seat attached to it with green throw pillows and a table

(Image credit: Simon Taylor Furniture)

When planning a kitchen island, begin by looking at the shape and size of your space, and work out what kind of island will work best. 

"The best way to decide on your kitchen island size depends on how your kitchen is laid out," explains Kim Emery, owner and designer at Clipper City House. "You want to ensure you have at least three to four feet around the island so it's easy to get around and it doesn't look crammed in."

For larger spaces, a rectangular island could leave you with too much empty and wasted room, so an L-shaped island like this could be the answer. 

The seating area creates a clear division between the kitchen and the adjoining living room, helping to clearly zone the spaces while keeping the open plan feel. 

7. Incorporate a wine fridge

A blue shaker kitchen island with gold tap and white marble worktop

(Image credit: JLK Interiors)

Your kitchen island is the perfect height for fitting in a wine fridge, and it's a convenient spot for you and your guests to grab a bottle while you cook.

Available in a range of sizes including very narrow designs for smaller islands (for example, we like the Staigis Mini Wine Fridge from Amazon), if you're a bit of a wine connoisseur it's only right that your precious bottles of vino have the perfectly regulated home they deserve. 

8. Create a waterfall worktop

A wooden kitchen island with wooden waterfall worktop and gray barstools

(Image credit: Thomas Melhorn)

Extending your kitchen worktop material down the side of your kitchen island is a great way to add extra texture to your space and create a statement. Learning what a waterfall kitchen island is is key to bringing this in.

“A waterfall countertop is rather stylish and contemporary, as the surface material extends down the sides making the countertop look seamless,” explains Artem Kropovinsky, interior designer and founder at Arsight. 

Whether your worktop is wooden, marble or stone-effect, using pattern and texture to the max like this prevents a space from feeling cold or clinical.

9. Build your oven into the design

A white kitchen island with two silver ovens built into the base and a black hob with a silver saucepan on top

(Image credit: Future PLC)

Going bespoke and integrating your best range oven into your island is super popular nowadays. 

The oven is a key player in this food-oriented space, so it makes sense to put it in the center of your room, giving you easy access from any part of the kitchen. 

If you do decide to incorporate your cooker into your island, the extra wiring work involved could be tricky, so that's definitely the time to call in the professionals to get it done right.

10. Go for an extendable worktop

A wooden kitchen island with white worktop and two bowls of fruit in it, and white cabinets and a silver oven behind it

(Image credit: JLK Interiors)

It's a simple but effective solution — choosing a worktop that extends out further than your cabinets creates an instant bar area. Here you can tuck your stools neatly out the way, or sit comfortably while someone else does the cooking. 

11. Make a statement with a splash of gold

A kitchen island with a white surface, a brushed gold faucet, a glass vase of white roses and a brown soap dispenser, and navy blue cabinets with gold handles below it and on the walls behind it

(Image credit: Willis & Stone)

In an open-plan kitchen diner, chances are the side of your kitchen island will be a key sightline when you or your guests are gathered around the dining table. So make sure the view is a pleasant one. 

A gold metallic tap (such as the allen and roth Harlow brushed gold metal faucet at Lowe's) brings a contemporary, luxe vibe to the scheme and contrasts beautifully with the rich navy blue cabinets. 

12. Install a raised worktop to add dimension

A purple kitchen with tiled floor, bar stools, kitchen island and a wooden breakfast bar with colorful books underneath

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

If you want your island to be a space for cooking and dining, make each separate purpose crystal clear by choosing two different worktop materials and placing them and crying heights. 

“Incorporate a raised bar or dining area for casual meals and entertaining, while maintaining a lower, counter-height workspace for meal prep and cooking,” suggests Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design. 

For example, here the wooden worktop is slightly raised, creating a perfect and comfortable space for eating your dinner or having your morning coffee.  

13. Get the positioning right

Concrete effect gray cabinets with a kitchen island with white counters and sink in a modern kitchen

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

The best kitchen islands are carefully positioned to aid easy travel around the kitchen  — especially in high-traffic areas around the fridge and sink. 

Don't forget to allow space for dishwasher doors and extending drawers. Incorporating a sink or stove helps to centralize food preparation, bringing the chef into the action. 

We're also loving how this island set up brings in bags of modern kitchen color ideas.

14. Create a rustic look

An industrial style kitchen with a freestanding rustic wooden and marble kitchen island with wooden stools with metal legs and rattan baskets around the kitchen

(Image credit: Iben and Niels Ahlberg/inagency.dk)

If your kitchen cabinets have to prioritize function over style, let your island be the focal point and bring in your personality to the space.

We love the rustic look of this island and how it works with the mismatched chairs to bring in eclectic, farmhouse vibes. They're also a beautiful example of wood kitchen ideas.

You could always scout out your own from secondhand furniture stores to create an eclectic finish like the style above, or bring in a freestanding item such as the Laurel Foundry Modern Farmhouse freestanding console on Wayfair to do the job.

15. Use something unexpected

A gray kitchen with a light wooden drawered, tall apothecary cabinet as an island, a wooden stool to the right of it, a jute rug underneath it, and white subway tiles on the splashback

(Image credit: Katie Lee)

A kitchen island doesn't have to be marketed as a kitchen island to serve as one. If you find the perfect table, butcher's block or storage item while browsing preloved furniture stores like Goodwill, see if they would sit well in the middle of your kitchen. 

This apothecary chest brings a charming and rustic edge to the space, and is really practical for storing smaller items too. 

16. Add open shelving

Charcoal kitchen island with deep-set drawers that are illuminated with hidden lighting

(Image credit: Tom Howley Kitchens)

Bring more warmth and texture to your island by giving your open kitchen shelving idea a little lift, lining them with wood for design interest. 

Nina explains, “Replace traditional cabinetry with open shelves to showcase your favorite cookbooks, glassware, and decorative accessories.”

She adds, “Not only does open shelving create visual interest, but it also makes everyday items easily accessible and adds an airy, spacious feel to the kitchen.”

17. Cover with tongue and groove paneling

A light pink paneled kitchen island with white worktop, two wooden bar stools, and three large brass pendant lights above it

(Image credit: Future Katie Lee)

An easy way to contrast textures in your kitchen and to bring in colorful kitchen ideas is to panel your kitchen island. 

You could keep it subtle like this one and go for a grooved design, or you could DIY the look with wooden planks for a more rustic look. 

DIY kitchen island ideas are a great way to mimic the look of more expensive models, but at a much lower cost. 

18. Build in cookbook shelving

A view across a kitchen island in the kitchen diner with white flooring and white and wood kitchen units with books and cookware on them

(Image credit: Future PLC / Darren Chung Photography)

When designing your kitchen island, always try and include a mix of different types of kitchen island storage, such as drawers, cabinets and open storage. 

Artem says, “By using creative storage techniques, such as secret drawers or a pull-out pantry in the island, space is optimized and necessities are close.” 

If you love a good cookbook and you use them all the time, make the most of the side of your island by building in narrow shelving. This is the perfect place to store and display your cookbooks and even turn them into a design feature too.  

19. Make countertops clutter-free

A dark blue kitchen island with a gray marble base with a gold sink, and then two wooden stools underneath it and colorful books within it

(Image credit: Photography: Malcolm Menzies)

By keeping your countertop space free from clutter and with just a few artistic additions, you can decorate your space without making everything look disorganized. 

Shannon explains, "Clean islands are similar to made beds — the rest of the kitchen can be messy but if the island is clean and perhaps even accessorized, the whole kitchen looks better.

A great takeaway idea from this kitchen island is to arrange any decor on your island on a tray so you can move it around the space with ease, should you need the surface for prep. For more guidance, our experts delved into decluttering counters.

20. Wallpaper a section of your island

A kitchen diner with brick effect wallpaper on the island with a a white stool in front of it and a white cabinet next to it

(Image credit: Future PLC / Fiona Walker-Arnott)

Want a quick update for your kitchen island? Wallpaper. There are many kitchen wallpaper ideas to add a pop of pattern to your space, but using wallpaper on the underside of your kitchen island is a simple way to add a quirky twist. A realistic brick effect wallpaper or even a paneling wallpaper to bring a rugged and rustic feel to your space with minimal expense and fuss. 

This is also a great way to make your kitchen island and cabinets match, if you live in a smaller space.

21. Make storage a priority

A white kitchen in an open plan living space with a large kitchen island and yellow island lighting

(Image credit: Bruce Hemming)

When it comes to kitchen storage ideas, getting rid of all wall cabinets can work well in an open-plan space with an island.

If they are big enough, you can fit in all your appliances plus storage into your kitchen island cabinets and create a really open, social space. You can always add a dresser if you need extra storage space. 

22. Go for a classic country look

A dark mahogany wood kitchen island with a sink, large range cooker and curtains in a DeVol kitchen

(Image credit: deVOL)

How dreamy is this space from deVol kitchens? We love the really distinctive, classic style of this island  — the dark wood and grey quartz aren't a combo you see very often anymore and the result is almost retro. 

23. Warm up with a wooden island

A dark blue shaker kitchen with wood kitchen island with wood bar stools

(Image credit: CRL Stone)

Going for a blue kitchen? Or a cool gray? Warm up the space with a contrasting wooden island. Make the look all the more cohesive by picking a wooden worktop to match the wood of the island —  then you can pick a more statement worktop for the island like marble or a copper would look cool. 

24. Go for glass doors

A kitchen with dark brown wooden cabinets, black cabinets with glass fronts and pink shelves, dark green tiiles, and a kitchen island with a white surface, a wooden glass cabinet on it and pendant lights hanging above

(Image credit: Naked Kitchens)

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. 

25. Keep one thing the same

A sage green kitchen island with drawers and cabinets on the side of it and glass jars and a vase of flowers on top of it, with white walls and wooden flooring above and below

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

If you want to choose two different colors for your kitchen island and the rest of your cabinets, keep the overall scheme consistent by using the same style cabinets. 

Here, shaker-style cabinets are used throughout the space to create a coherent and cohesive scheme. 

Alternatively, you can choose to mix up the style of your kitchen cabinet ideas, but keep the same handles, as this works to visually unite the space in a similar way. 

26. Choose an island with curve appeal

A gray kitchen with cream kitchen island with rounded corners, breakfast bar and wood bar stools

(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 often found in cooking spaces, and they make great small kitchen ideas and narrow kitchen island ideas to improve the natural traffic flow around the island. 

27. Hang a bold pendant

A marble kitchen island with a wooden fruit bowl and plants on it, three circular brass pendant lights above it, and dark wooden beams on the ceiling

(Image credit: Custom Home Design by Nina Lichtenstein / Bernardini Builders / DNA Photography)

Lighting can take your kitchen island to the next level. Use dramatic kitchen lighting ideas and fittings to anchor your 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 to really impress and create a clear focal point in your space. 

28. Try a mirrored kitchen island

A rectangular white kitchen island with a mirrored base, a black and silver fridge behind it and an open door frame and white walls

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Keep the kitchen island unit love alive by thinking outside the box in terms of both shape and materials. 

This mirrored island is a compelling combination of geometric quartz and mirrored glass that can’t fail to impress.  

29. Go all-marble for maximum design impact

a marble kitchen island in a white kitchen with large patio doors and dining area

(Image credit: Blakes London)

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

Nina suggests, “Select a striking countertop material such as marble to create a focal point that anchors the space.”  

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

30. Mix marble with other luxe materials

A marble kitchen island with a silver sink, sage green base, two green cushioned bar stools, three tulip pendant lights and white cabinets behind it

(Image credit: Higham Furniture)

Marble continues to be one of the most popular stone styles for luxury kitchen countertops — and we can see why. Sophisticated and stylish, it adds a timeless feel to any interior. 

If you're remodeling 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 sage green and metallic fixtures.

31. Opt for wheels

A dark green kitchen with a dark green kitchen island with a wooden surface, drawers, and wooden shelves with bowls and books on the lower

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

We love the genius idea of having portable kitchen island ideas, which add both style and practicality.

This means that you can make your space even more multifunctional — keep it in the center of your room for a family buffet, then roll it out to the side to make more room for dancing.

“Whether used as an extra workspace, serving station, or makeshift bar cart, a mobile island adds convenience and flexibility to any kitchen layout,” Nina adds. 

If you're looking for one, we like the Phi Villa Kitchen Island Cart on Amazon.

32. Choose an unusual, stand out finish

A gray and green kitchen with a green marble kitchen island with a marble countertop with crittal style windows

(Image credit: Verde Tinos)

Give your kitchen island extra special treatment with an all-over stone or stone-effect pattern. Using marble for the whole kitchen island is definitely not a budget choice, but it's one that'll last a long time and is sure to become the talking point of everyone that walks through the door. 

For a less expensive alternative, choose marble-effect slabs, or you can even buy marble-effect vinyl stickers (this Practicalws Marble Peel and Stick Roll is an Amazon best seller) to stick on to your existing island. 

33. Integrate open shelving

A white kitchen island with a wooden wine rack and black wine fridge on the side of it, two glasses and a box of vegetables on top of it, two black glass pendant lights above, and two wooden stools to the right

(Image credit: Simon Taylor Furniture)

We're super envious of this easy and breezy kitchen, but the sleek island with open shelves with room for bottles is a real show stopper. 

Is open shelving too hazardous with little ones around? Try glazed cabinets — we promise they're coming back onto the kitchen scene. 

34. Swap a big design for a smaller island

A white kitchen with a small kitchen island with an open wooden shelf, white kitchen cabinets around it, and a brown brick wall with a white wood hanging above the silver oven

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

If you're working with a more compact space or a galley kitchen, a larger island may be out of the question — but there's always room for a smaller island if you're clever with your layout.

This island fits beautifully in the space, working as a useful addition rather than an overwhelming feature.

35. Use space for bulky appliances

a grey kitchen with large island with breakfast bar, storage and statement lighting

(Image credit: Industville)

When you are limited with how many units you can fit into a small kitchen, then fully utilize your kitchen island instead. Appliances such as the best dishwashers, and fridges can be housed in it.

Another great tip to enhance a more compact space is to add an accent area of detail, like this tiled section, to tease the eye away from the surroundings.

36. Splash out on the countertop

Industrial style kitchen island

(Image credit: Ikea/Benjamin Edwards)

Be it detailed marble, a piece of polished wood, a slab of concrete or hammered metal, you can go bold with your kitchen island countertop. 

This might be the area where you decide to splurge, as this will allow it to become the focal point of your kitchen, making it 100% worth your investment.


Is a kitchen island a good option?

If space isn’t an issue a kitchen island is a great way to get more out of your space. Entirely functional, islands are great at offering alternative storage opportunities, the ends can be used to store and display cookbooks whilst drawers and typical cabinetry can make the body of the island.

Can you just buy a kitchen island?

Many kitchen companies have ready-made kitchen islands that you can buy almost off the shelf, and these are complete with all the essential storage, slots for appliances, and often room for barstools too. 

For a quick solution, this Lark Manor Aralynne Kitchen Island from Wayfair has everything you could want from an island.

What can I use for a kitchen island?

As long as your piece of furniture allows you to prepare food and store things, there are no set rules as to what you can use as a kitchen island. If you're looking for something a little different, you can use a vintage chest of drawers, a desk, an old cabinet, a butchers block, or any similar piece of furniture as your kitchen island.

From sleek and sophisticated to rustic and charming, the possibilities for kitchen island design are endless.

“The only limit to transforming your kitchen island into a functional, fashionable masterpiece that reflects your personal style and enhances your cooking experiences, is your imagination,” Nina finishes by saying.

If you do need to tidy up before you bring your island in, you might want to learn how to organize a kitchen with too much stuff.

Linda Clayton

Linda is a freelance journalist who has specialised in homes and interiors for the past 19 years, beginning on a trade rag for the Daily Mail Group and now writing full-time for the likes of Homes & Gardens, Livingetc, Country Homes & Interiors, and of course Real Homes. Linda is our resident mattress reviewer. She spends at least a week on every mattress she tests for us, as does her ever-patient husband. In reviewing mattresses for us for more than a year, she has become something of a very opinionated expert. She lives in Devon with her cabinetmaker husband, two daughters and many pets, and is locked in an on-going battle to drag their red brick Victorian home out of 1970s swirly-carpet hell...

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