Kitchen island makeover ideas – 10 nifty ways to update this key space

Our kitchen island makeover ideas range from tiling the sides to adding storage or a new countertop

White kitchen with blue island, white countertop, hardwood floor, crhome pendants, wood and leather barstools, vase with foraged stems,
(Image credit: Flax Interiors / Vivian Johnson)

Think about trying some new kitchen island makeover ideas to update your space. Kitchen islands are a huge investment and once you've got one, an invaluable part of the space. After a few years, and with changing trends, we often feel the need to update our kitchens and that includes the island. 

This is where our kitchen island makeover ideas come in – it can be as easy as a color update, or perhaps tiling the sides. Or, if you've got the budget, a new countertop and an extension to one end to accommodate extra seating.

Some of our kitchen island ideas can be achieved over a weekend – read our inspirational guide below. 

Kitchen island makeover ideas that will transform this key element

With the kitchen being the hub of the home, it pays to invest in it so it lasts well. Kitchen islands can work in small or larger spaces and can transform your kitchen into a social gathering area for friends and family. 

You can makeover your kitchen island with our clever updates below.

Prices were correct at the time this article was published.

1. Give your island a fresh new color

Green kitchen with matching slimline island, pink curtains, hardwood floor, pendants

(Image credit: Aha Interiors)

Perhaps one of the quickest and easiest kitchen island makeovers is to give it a fresh coat of paint. This could be at the same time as updating your kitchen cabinetry, or you might decide to paint your island in a completely different shade

"I like adding a pop of color, and a kitchen island is an ideal and easy place to integrate color – making the cabinetry look refreshed and modern. The bright pop of green contrasts with the blues and pinks in this custom kitchen," says Paulina Hospod, president of Aha Interiors

Annie Sloan CBE, paint and color expert agrees, "A kitchen island is a fabulous place to add a pop of color. Kitchens can benefit from bold, playful, joy-sparking shades and the kitchen island is a very low-commitment place to dip your toe with color as they can be so easily repainted. If you choose a color which makes your heart sing, though, you won’t need to."

We love the rich green shade that Paulina chose for this kitchen island, for a similar shade have a look at Benjamin Moore's Cat's Eye 2036-10, it's a bold emerald green that will look great with both neutrals and brights. 

headshot of Paulina Hospod
Paulina Hospod

With over two decades of remodeling experience, Paulina excels as a project manager for high-end residential renovations and is an architectural cabinetry and interior design expert at Aha Interiors, a family-owned design firm specializing in design, millwork, and construction. 

expert headshot of Annie Sloan
Annie Sloan CBE

Annie Sloan CBE, invented her revolutionary Chalk Paint™, in 1990 and is widely considered one of the world's leading authorities in paint, color and style. 

2. Update your countertop surface

Artwork, wooden floor, white cabinets, marble island, mushroom colored walls, open shelving,

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

Loving the shape of your kitchen island but fancy a new surface? There are some fabulous peel and stick options that can be used to literally transform a tired countertop, into a striking marble kitchen island over a weekend. 

Have a look at Amazon's Very Berry Sticker Marble Contact Paper Peel and Stick, it's also renter friendly! It has a matte finish and the vinyl it's made from is extremely durable, waterproof and can withstand wear and tear. 

3. Extend your island to include seating

White kitchen with navy island, white countertop, wood and leather bar stools, chrome pendant lights,

(Image credit: Flax Interiors / Vivian Johnson)

It might be you inherited your kitchen island when you moved in, or, it's become a little small for your current lifestyle. In either case, this is where you can give it a spruce up and extend it to incorporate seating. 

Doing this opens it up for those special family gatherings and for using it as a hub for entertaining. 

"Small changes go a long way! In this kitchen remodel, the standout of the kitchen is the island. We extended the island to add extra seating for my client's growing family. Add in a new countertop, fresh coat of paint, and some tile, and the island infuses a fun pop of color and intrigue into the kitchen design," explains Emily Flaxman, owner and principal designer at Flax Interiors

expert headshot of Emily Flaxman, Flax Interiors, a dark haired woman wearing a patchwork style dress in a white kitchen
Emily Flaxman

Emily started her career in interior design working alongside some of the top interior designers in the country at Martha Angus Interior Design. She also has work experience in live television, brick-and-mortar retail marketing, eCommerce, and branding. 

4. Update knobs and handles

Green kitchen with vintage table as island, marble countertop, dark wood flooring,

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

One of our favorite kitchen island makeover ideas is to update the knobs and handles. It's amazing how upgrading these key pieces of hardware can give your island a new look.

Helen Parker, creative director at deVOL Kitchens agrees, "I would look after your drawers and if they are wood keep them oiled or carefully painted and change the knobs and handles to give a fresh new look. This can be fun and just as rewarding and visually different as having a new kitchen, it requires a little imagination, which is creative and satisfying."

Start by sourcing some hardware that will suit your existing scheme, if you want to follow the trends then opt for brass. We like the look of Wayfair's Kent Knurled 7" Center to Center Bar Pull.

expert headshot of Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL Kitchens, a blond woman standing in a kitchen with a white shirt on
Helen Parker

Helen Parker is deVOL's creative director. Joining in 2004 as a kitchen designer, by 2011 she had become responsible for deVOL's style, creating one-of-a-kind showrooms, sourcing antiques and gifts, and designing new pieces of furniture and accessories.

5. Add a shelving unit to one end

White kitchen, AGA, artwork, kitchen with storage solution on end of island, pendant lights, rug

(Image credit: OKA)

There are two ways to do add a new element to your existing kitchen island, the first is to ask a joiner to create a shelving section and invest in a new countertop. Or you can add a freestanding shelving solution to the end of your island, Sue Jones, co-founder and creative director at OKA explains: 

“A lot of the time a kitchen island will already be in place when you move into a house but if it doesn’t offer enough storage or surface space and you have additional floor space, a standalone unit placed on the end, like a bookshelf, can be a great addition – shelf wealth is not just for the living room or bedroom. 

It’s a great opportunity to add character to your kitchen by curating a selection of your favourite cookbooks, patterned bowls or a selection of mugs on the shelves, which not only provide easy to access to the pieces you use the most, but also brings a pop of color to the centre of the room which may have otherwise have been a plain surface end.”

Walmart's Casual Home 324-34 Solid Wood Montego X Design Style 3 Shelf Bookcase in Walnut would be a good budget option. 


expert headshot of Sue Jones OKA
Sue Jones

Sue founded OKA in early 1999 with friends Annabel Astor and Lucinda Waterhouse. OKA grew into a fully-fledged omni-channel retailer operating 13 stores across the UK and three in the US, alongside a well-established online store, a quarterly magazine, and a complimentary trade service.  

6. Look for small storage additions

Black and white kitchen, black island with bar stools and storage rail on end, mini cart at other end, black pendant lights, black wall unit, Ikea,

(Image credit: IKEA)

For budget-busting ideas consider buying some quick fixes that will make your kitchen island more user friendly, and add more ease and practicality to every day. 

Things like a hanging rail on one end that can hold tea towels, oven gloves, and larger utensils. You can also add a moveable butcher's block to one end that will add a little extra countertop space for entertaining prep.

7. Invest in a new countertop style

kitchen with wood cabinetry, waterfall island with bar stools, green bookshelf, pendants, herringbone floor,

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

There are plenty of options when it comes to kitchen island styles, including different materials for your countertop and whether it travels down the sides like this  waterfall style design.

"Over recent years and particularly during the cost of living crisis, we’ve seen an increase in the number of customers opting for more affordable kitchen cabinetry, but wisely picking a premium countertop," says Jonathan Stanley, VP of marketing at Caesarstone.

Changing up your kitchen island this way will still be more cost effective than opting for a whole new design. Jonathan continues; 

"This shift is what we call the rise of the ‘jigsaw kitchen’ – mixing and matching premium and more affordable elements to design a space that will stand the test of time whilst suiting a more limited or carefully planned budget. Renovating a kitchen is one of the highest budget installations and a project that shouldn’t be undertaken lightly." 

headshot of Jonathan Stanley
Jonathan Stanley

Established in 1987, Caesarstone is a global leader in premium surfaces, specializing in sustainable worktops that blend exquisite design with superior durability. Caesarstone’s marketing team is headed up by Jonathan Stanley, a communications leader with more than twenty years of experience.

8. Tile the sides for a decorative touch

A kitchen with a wooden kitchen island with a silver mosaic tile back panel, two white sools, white cabinets behind it, and a silver pendant lamp on the ceiling

(Image credit: Future PLC / Dominic Blackmore)

If you love a spot of DIY and have some leftover tiles then add some to the sides of your kitchen island. 

Not only will they add color and pattern, but also a decorative aspect to your kitchen scheme, especially if you choose some that shimmer and shine! 

If you choose a peel and stick style tile it's a great weekend DIY job that is fuss and mess free, we've taken a shining to Wayfair's PVC Peel and Stick Mosaic that has a marble look with a touch of gold metallic. 

9. Introduce task lighting

A kitchen with blue island, marble island worktop and shiplap walls painted in white and yellow with two white pendant ceiling lights over island

(Image credit: Original BTC)

Without good lighting, your kitchen island will be harder to use when the light fades and you still need to prep – the Big Light is not good enough for homework and reading recipes right?

Kitchen pendant lights are a good makeover option that will transform your space in no time. We tend to prefer a trio that sit right above the width of your island, that way you get maximum light coverage. 

“A dimmable pendant – or, for a dramatic look, a row of pendants - is useful for switching from functional to relaxation mode, whether over your dining table or central island," advises Charlie Bowles, director of Original BTC

expert headshot of Charlie Bowles, director, Original BTC
Charlie Bowles

Charlie Bowles is the director of British lighting manufacturer Original BTC after he took over from Peter Bowles his father and the company’s founder in 2012. With its New York showroom opening in 2017, Original BTC also has showrooms in London, Paris, and Taiwan.

10. Decorate the sides with paneling

White kitchen with small white island, marble countertops, pendant lights with copper inside

(Image credit: Demi Ryan)

For a cost-effective makeover idea, consider adding wall paneling to each end of your kitchen island. It could be shiplap, leftover wainscotting from another project or some flooring offcuts. 

You can paint it to match your scheme or make a feature of it by choosing a contrasting shade. 

Wayfair have a good selection of Acoustic Slat Wood Panels – that could be cut to size for your kitchen island ends. 

A new kitchen island is most definitely an investment, and if you don't want to hand over savings right now, consider giving it a new lease of life instead. 

Our kitchen island makeover ideas will give you that extra bit of inspiration to help you upgrade your current design and turn it into one that looks new – and with some shiny new storage solutions too. 

Sophie Warren-Smith

Sophie has been an interior stylist and journalist for over 22 years and has worked for many of the main interior magazines during that time both in-house and as a freelancer. On the side, as well as being the News Editor of indie magazine, 91, Sophie trained to be a florist in 2019 and launched The Prettiest Posy where she curates beautiful flowers for the modern bride.