20 kitchen island seating ideas for style and function

Including kitchen island seating will ensure your space is just as functional as it is beautiful. From bar stools to benches, here's what to consider.

An open-plan kitchen diner with white units wooden flooring and black framed windows
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

To introduce kitchen island seating into your cooking space is a good move. You'll find that most units now come with the option of seating anyhow because it is oh so practical and will add more interest to your surroundings also. Make sure you select the most good-looking kitchen island seating ideas for added function and to enhance the overall feel of your space, and you'll have yourself enviable results.

There are many ways to add a comfortable and handsome spot to perch on. Nonetheless, a little advanced planning when finalizing your favorite kitchen island ideas will ensure you choose the best option for your home. Lucky for you, we have all the key design elements to consider for traditional, modern, and everything-in-between schemes.

20 ways to style a kitchen island with seating

'There are a few key ingredients that will turn your kitchen into the perfect entertaining space,' says Al Bruce, founder of Olive & Barr.

'Somewhere your guests will feel relaxed, comfortable, and ready for a fun night in, while also making it easy for you to play maitre’d, cook up a feast, and then clean up afterwards.'

'When you’re entertaining in your kitchen, the best thing you can create is a place for people to chat, laugh and top up their glasses while you prepare the food. Make seating a priority and pop comfortable barstools around the island to create an intimate space where people can relax.'

1. Pair warm copper pendants with tan leather stools

A shaker style kitchen with island, tan leather bar stools and nine copper ceiling pendant lights

(Image credit: Olive & Barr)

Whether you're prepping mimosas and pancakes for a brunch or frying up some steaks – turn up the heat by coordinating your kitchen island lighting with your bar seating. This warm tan leather seating is complemented by a whopping total of nine copper pendants above the concrete worktop for a modern industrial feel.

While you don't have to invest in that many fixtures, we like the way that each has been hung at different heights to add interest and layering of light in this shaker-style kitchen.

2. Create a cozy farmhouse feel with light wood

A kitchen diner with ivory and light wood kitchen island, wooden oak bar stools and ivory/light wood larder

(Image credit: Dunelm)

Contrary to what you might think, kitchen island seating ideas don't have to be excessive or expansive. So if you haven't got the space or the money – don't think that you need to carve out a considerable amount of space in your cooking scheme to make it work.

Small kitchen islands are often more flexible and look chic as a standalone setup. We love the clean Scandi/farmhouse feel of this Ivory and light wooden island with the Loxwood barstools, available from Dunelm, which ties in perfectly with the home's wood framing and that dreamy larder cabinet. It makes a perfect place to enjoy breakfast or a late-night snack.

3. Combine comfort and style with luxury velvet stools

A navy kitchen island setup with luxury grey velvet bar stool, marble kitchen countertop and brass faucet fixtures

(Image credit: Sofa.com)

Barstools don't have a great reputation for being that comfortable for your butt or posture, but that isn't to say that you should settle for lousy kitchen island seating that cripples your back or makes your bottom go numb.

So pair this smart grey kitchen island seating with an equally expensive-looking marble kitchen island countertop and brass accessories for an uber-chic scheme. While it's not technically marketed as being ergonomic, it provides sturdy support for your lower body.

'Dress up your dining space with our luxurious Coco seating,' says Patricia Gibbons, senior commercial manager at Sofa.com.

'Boasting blind button detailing and a statement cut-out design, this fully upholstered number has curves in all the right places and looks simply stunning dressed up in sumptuous velvet. Available as a lavish bar stool and opulent dining chair, there's no denying that Coco offers style to dine for! Dine with a dash of ooh-la-la!'

4. Invest in family-friendly adjustable swivel seats

A set of three powder-coated steel bar stools in kitchen with trio of concrete grey pendant ceiling lights

(Image credit: B&Q)

There's no hard and fast rule when it comes to kitchen island sizes. They can be as long or as wide as you want. For some, it might be a central cooking or washing-up space, but in more recent times, it's been a place for the kids to do their homework and an impromptu office.

However, when considering what kitchen island seating to buy, it's important to take into the height of the short and tall people that perch over this space. Rather than buying two types of seating, an adjustable stool is a versatile seat to suit all.

The Karonda gas lift bar stools by GoodHome, available at B&Q are ideal for entertaining in your kitchen. They have padded seats for added comfort and footrests for additional support, and to stop little ones from slipping. Ideal for sleek spaces, they'll also fit under the countertop too!

Kitchen island seating is perfect for positioning in the hub of the home. These particular chairs are easy to wipe clean and spin a full 360 degrees so you don't need to manually rotate to watch TV or get a neck ache from socializing with others.

5. Pair a statement green island with wooden stools

A kitchen with light green kitchen island with floral decor and round wooden bar stools

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Bringing the outside in has always been on-trend, but if you've already got a room full of indoor houseplants and potted herbs aplenty by the windowsill, why not enhance the biophillic feel with a green island and wooden kitchen island seating combo?

Described as having warm undertones that infuse this leafy green with calming comfort, Fernwood Green by Benjamin Moore is the perfect kitchen color scheme to pair with wooden barstools for an indoor/outdoor forest feel. We love the bovine art which reinforces this calming meadow feel, with the chairs feeling somewhat milkmaid-esque. 

6. Create cozy comfort with a white cushioned seat

A white kitchen with kitchen island and cushioned kitchen island chairs

(Image credit: Cox and Cox)

Finished in pale white cotton, these elegant but modern Scandi kitchen island counter stools from Cox and Cox are clean and timeless and would look ever-so-chic in an all-white kitchen.

Magnificently minimalist in its design, the cushioned seat has a low-rise backrest for comfort and the solid grey wood frame of the chair has a relaxed wash finish to complement the pet bed kitchen island providing a place for pup or puss to rest too!

7. Add faux fur cushions for a glam touch

A contemporary wood and white gloss kitchen with kitchen island and bar stools with faux fur chair decor

(Image credit: Future)

Unless you have the time and patience to create a DIY kitchen island, these focal points aren't the cheapest of investments. So no one will blame you if you're looking for kitchen island ideas on a budget – including kitchen island seating.

Affordable seating can, unfortunately, be uncomfortable, so you can soften your seat with a pillow or cushion for a few dollars using materials from a haberdashery or craft store and a little sewing skill. This fluffy faux fur cover is a fancy cover to impress family and friends and no one will know about your thrifty handiwork... Unless you brag about it of course!

8. Create contrast with a clashing barstool color

A teal shaker-style kitchen with kitchen island and berry bar stools

(Image credit: Future)

Creating a stand-out meal is one thing, but if you want you're cooking space to be memorable, choose a colored kitchen island with a bold kitchen island seating choice. This teal-colored kitchen island works incredibly well with the magenta bar stools to create a decadent, jewel-like scene with Art-Deco-inspired hues. 

9. Mix cane and concrete for an industrial boho feel

A kitchen with black wooden kitchen island with concrete countertop, cane barstools and Berber carpet

(Image credit: Caesarstone)

Kitchen islands and kitchen island seating have come a long way since the once-exclusive offering of a high-gloss counter and chair combo. But, if you want something timeless that flirts with classic and contemporary kitchen ideas – pair cane chairs with a concrete-topped worksurface. In Reena Simon's (aka @hygge_for_home) kitchen, the warm wood works perfectly with the cool grey composite material to create a balanced kitchen or chic scullery. Plus, the weathered black furniture feels almost shou sugi ban in style.

10. Enhance space with a floating effect

A large white modern kitchen in a beamed space with kitchen island

(Image credit: Caple)

Clever design details can elevate inexpensive cabinetry to designer status. Here, barely-there chrome legs create the illusion of a contemporary cantilevered dining space – without the costly structural engineering of the real deal. Caple’s Darga kitchen in white as seen above.

11. Go for comfort with banquette style seating

A dark grey Humphrey Munson kitchen island with low level banquette seating

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

Banquette seating offers the cozy intimacy of your favorite diner, at home. It’s also a great space-saving solution on a kitchen island unit, as fitted seating requires less floor space than freestanding. This elegant bespoke banquette, upholstered in luxurious leather, is by Humphrey Munson.

As shown here, why not couple it up with your best dining table and chairs for a larger group gathering.

12. Color match your seats for a cohesive scheme

A colorful dark blue kitchen with bar stool island seating and peacock mural

(Image credit: John Lewis of Hungerford)

After a kitchen island with seating that's going to bring color into your space? Brightly-colored bar stools can play a vital role when color coordinating your kitchen. We love how the zesty lemon hues of these Ernest bar stools work with that stunning mural and the statement light shade in this blue and yellow kitchen.

13. Double up your kitchen island dining options

A modern kitchen with assortment of kitchen island seating areas

(Image credit: Davonport)

Cover all the bases for your kitchen island with seating and put bar style stools at one end, and a lower dining level at the other. This dynamic island from Davonport’s Soho range features a stunning mix of materials including sandblasted ash, industrial concrete and hand-stitched fabric panels. 

14. Contrast your bar stools with the rest of the kitchen

Ghost chairs as kitchen island seating for a Secret Drawer kitchen

(Image credit: The Secret Drawer)

Designer bar stools can instantly take a classic kitchen in a fresh modern direction, even when kitchen island seating is involved. Here, the unexpected combo of manmade polycarbonate (aka acrylic) and natural timber is seriously covetable. It could work the other way round too, say industrial style, rustic bar stools in a modern kitchen

15. Small kitchen? Choose slimline island bar seating

A kitchen painted with green wall paint decor and white kitchen island with bar style seating

(Image credit: Wren Kitchens)

Even if you are squeezed for space you can still fit in a small kitchen island with seating. A raised breakfast bar will elevate your kitchen island design, literally, and provide a separate surface for serving drinks, away from the clutter of cooking and prepping. This is the Calatrava Island from Wren Kitchens.

16. Make legroom for all with kitchen island stools

A duck egg blue kitchen island with feature lighting from Harvey Jones

(Image credit: Harvey Jones)

Legroom can be an issue with kitchen island seating, not least when small children kick and scuff the rear panel as they clamber onto a stool. This generous kitchen island with seating for four solves the problem nicely and provides a spacious elevated dining area for all the family.

17. Add some luxury with velvet and brass barstools

A modern kitchen with glam red velvet island seating at a white breakfast bar

(Image credit: Lewis Alderson)

We are so in love with this kitchen island seating as it's a darn fine way to introduce red kitchen ideas into a plain scheme that may otherwise go unnoticed. The breakfast bar on this bespoke island unit is shaped like the end of an elegant table, complete with beautiful hand-turned legs. The results are undeniably striking and aren't just for Valentine's Day or a romantic meal for two.

18. Go for an Art Deco vibe

A New Deco kitchen with teal colored kitchen island, black seating and light herringbone effect flooring

(Image credit: Martin Moore)

Easiest way to transform your kitchen into a chic kitchen diner? Add kitchen island with seating that is straight from the Jazz Age. This New Deco kitchen by Martin Moore features velvet-upholstered, quilted kitchen island seating, which completes the Jazz-era-inspired design scheme (and takes comfort to the next level).

19. Create an industrial boho scheme with galvanized stools

A wooden kitchen breakfast bar with metal bar stools

(Image credit: Brett Charles)

Want to create a laid-back look? Pinch this kitchen island seating idea and mix and match classic metal chairs with a wooden kitchen island – or breakfast bar in a small kitchen – and pile the worktop with houseplants to complete a relaxed bohemian look. 

The distressed kitchen flooring and your best rug are all you'll need to add the cherry on top!

20. Go for simple seating in a Shaker-style kitchen 

A kitchen with greige and wood island and red and black checkered tile flooring

(Image credit: Plain English Kitchens)

Make like the Shakers and pick out a kitchen island with seating that is simple and practical. The pared-back design of these stools from Plain English fits perfectly in this no-fuss (but also totally gorgeous) kitchen. To recreate this Shaker-style kitchen look, pick island seating in neutral colors that are a near match to your kitchen cabinets to keep the look cohesive and classic. 

How do I maximize my kitchen island seating?

'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,' says Lizzie Beesley, head of design, Magnet.

'For a smaller square-shaped kitchen, a kitchen peninsula may be the most suitable solution. It can offer additional storage or seating and add that valuable element of sociability to mold your kitchen into a modern, multi-functional space.'

'Alternatively, you could opt for smart integrations with pull-out worktops, corner cupboard storage, and built-in appliances to make the most out of your bijoux kitchen.'

How do you design an island?

When planning your kitchen island with seating setup, start by deciding what you need your seating for: how many do you need to accommodate and for how long? If your island will provide the only eating area in the room, dedicate as much dining space as you can spare. And be sure to source the best bar stools that are designed for easy access and comfort – high backs are best.  

Next, think about the area around your island, which will help determine where the seating should go. Stools that tuck underneath a breakfast bar, out of the way, can be helpful in maximizing space but try to imagine them in use too. Will your guests be sitting in the way of the main entrance or access to the fridge? 

One final tip; locate your kitchen island seating well away from your island’s hob, if applicable, and prep spaces to keep little fingers safely away from hot pans, sharp knives, and hot water taps if you have a kitchen island sink.

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...