10 modern kitchen island ideas you'll want to copy

From waterfall to mixed materials, our modern kitchen island ideas will wow you

Light kitchen with marble island
(Image credit: Imparfait Design Studio)

We've spoken to our interior design experts for modern kitchen island ideas to inspire you. Because contrary to popular belief, kitchen islands can fit into most sized kitchens — from a large all-purpose design to a mini rolling cart, there's something for everyone.

Super versatile, they give you extra prep space, a gathering area for friends and family, and someone to pop a sink or hob to free up other areas. 

Our kitchen island ideas will show you how to choose this functional yet stylish statement piece in your kitchen that will enhance your daily life so it becomes an essential part of your family life.

10 fabulous modern kitchen island ideas to inspire

Our modern kitchen island ideas are perfect for those wanting a sleek and chic design that helps you prep, cook, and entertain.

Prices were correct at the time this article was published.

1. Create a cohesive scheme

Mid-green and marble effect countertop, glazed wall units, green crane wallpaper, trio of pendant lights, bar stools, herringbone floor,

(Image credit: Divine Savages)

If you love color and pattern then keeping your kitchen island decor ideas simple and modern will help to create a stylish blank canvas for other elements. 

"It allows you to play with pattern and texture elsewhere in the kitchen which will add visual interest and create depth. Contrasting a simple, marble-topped island with a bold patterned wallpaper is the perfect pairing — whilst marble exudes elegance and sophistication with its clean lines and timeless appeal, the wallpaper serves as the focal point and brings personality into the space, sometimes telling a story, whether it's a geometric print, floral motif, or abstract design," says Jamie Watkins, co-founder of Divine Savages

If you love the green shade that Jamie's chosen, we think Lick's Green 08 Matt is a good match. 

Jamie Watkins
Jamie Watkins

Divine Savages specializes in creating exquisitely crafted wallpapers, fabrics, accessories, and limited-edition art prints for the brave and bold. It was founded by husbands Jamie Watkins and Tom Kennedy in 2017.

2. The waterfall effect

Marble waterfall island with sink, metal bar stools, large black pendant lights, pale blue kitchen units white metro tiles, black cooker hood, tiled metalic ceiling

(Image credit: Imparfait Design Studio)

So what exactly is a waterfall design when it comes to a modern kitchen island? It's when the countertop material extends down to one or both sides to create a really smart and sleek look. 

“Waterfall edges really speak of high design, and they can help create that sleek and minimal look that people want in a contemporary kitchen space. They can be used to add a stunning visual element whilst hiding cabinetry and appliances. Waterfall features can be added to one or both sides of the island, or even the front or back, offering multiple design options depending on how you wish to use the space," says Mor Krisher, head of design, Caesarstone

Headshot of Mor Krisher, head of design Caesarstone
Mor Krisher

Mor Krisher has led the Caesarstone design team since 2009, overseeing research and development, innovation, and product design. In his role, he leads the team that creates eye-catching new colors, patterns, and textures suited to the brand’s global clientele.

3. Give it a lick of paint

Pink and blue open plan kitchen with pink painted exposed brick walls, blue painted island, vase of spring blooms, pendant lights, lime washed floorboards

(Image credit: Farrow & Ball)

If you love the functionality of your current kitchen island but want to give it an update then consider painting the cabinetry. You can use standard emulsion or if you fancy a slight sheen opt for an eggshell finish. 

"Just tackling the island is a great way to create a different feel in your kitchen space without undertaking a whole project approach whether you want to change color or even amplify the finish from eggshell to gloss. If you feel mildly confident, it is a perfectly achievable option for a DIY weekend project — just follow the manufacturer's guidelines for a step-by-step account of best practice," suggests Patrick O'Donnell, brand ambassador, Farrow & Ball.

expert headshot of Patrick O'Donnell
Patrick O'Donnell

Patrick O’Donnell has been bringing his impeccable eye for color to Farrow & Ball since 2012. Over that time, he has been a showroom manager, global color consultancy manager, and now brand ambassador.

4. Mix your materials

Blue, black and white kitchen with navy freestanding cabinet, black kitchen island with marble and copper top, red barstool, glass pendant lights

(Image credit: Original BTC)

Create interest by mixing up your materials — this smart modern kitchen island has a combined marble (FYI: here's how to clean marble) and copper countertop which contrasts beautifully against the shiplap walls and wooden cabinetry. 

Illuminate the task areas by choosing fluted lighting which will add a further textural layer. “Hanging pendants in groups of threes can be particularly effective over kitchen islands and dining tables because pendants are a great way of breaking up lines of kitchen cabinets and creating an impactful silhouette," says Charlie Bowles, director, 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.

5. Pop in a sink

Dark green and white kitchen with marble, hob in island, bar stool, butler's sink, brass faucet

(Image credit: deVOL Kitchens)

You can still fit in a modern kitchen island if space is tight, you just need to be clever with how it's designed. A narrow island can have a hob fitted, this frees up countertop space elsewhere. 

Helen Parker, creative director of deVOL says, "The beauty is you can have a sink and dishwasher in an island, so if you don’t have the perfect kitchen window in the perfect spot for your sink then you can opt for an island. Many people who have big open-plan spaces with seating and views out into the garden can locate their sink or cooker (for that matter) into the island and face the action.''

If you fancy giving your kitchen island countertop a makeover, check out Walmart's EasyLiner contact paper shelf liner in gray marble.

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.

6. Scandi style

White open plan kitchen living area with small freestanding kitchen island with shelving, rug,

(Image credit: Ikea)

Simple is often best and Scandi kitchen style is your go-to for this kind of look — and if your budget won't stretch to an all-dancing, all-singing style kitchen island then consider a design that's great value and freestanding. Being able to move your island can be really useful. 

Open-plan shelving underneath can help you see what you need instantly and it's space-saving too – no opening doors in a tight space.

7. Blend it seamlessly

Dark wood island that matches flooring, marble top, globe light pendants, rug, bar stools, pale green cabinets,

(Image credit: Barrett Oswald / Tim Lenz)

For those who want their modern kitchen island to blend in rather than create a statement, consider the base material that it's made from. Barrett Oswald, partner and principal designer, Barrett Oswald explains:

"We love the personality a kitchen island gives to a space. It can be used as a statement, like a navy blue island against a sleek and clean marble background; or designed to blend seamlessly into a room by incorporating wood tones similar to the floor."

Jamie Watkins agrees, "Keeping the color palette tight directs attention to key design elements or focal points in the room and makes for a coherent kitchen design that feels balanced and well-curated."

Keep your bar stools low key too if you love the dark wood look, Wayfair's Hooria solid wood stool set is a great buy. 

image of interior designers Barrett Oswald, two women standing together one wearing black, the other black top and jeans
Barrett Oswald

Barrett has always had a passion for style and design. Her love of interior design has been a natural progression — from a teenager who mixed toile wallpaper and band posters in her bedroom to a graduate of the Fashion Institute in NYC, and eventually to the stylist of a commercial, oceanfront condominium in Florida.

8. Give it some curves

White and green kitchen with pale green kitchen island, concrete wortop,

(Image credit: Caesarstone / Kate Feather Kitchens / Birgit Mons Photography / Anja Inderst Styling)

We tend to think of modern kitchen islands as either square or rectangular, but there's a new trend emerging — and it's curvy!

Which from a practical point of view is ideal, who's had enough of bumping into those corners? Mor Krisher, head of design at Caesarstone says, "Beautifully organic, rounded edges immediately soften a space and bring feelings of calmness to the kitchen. These curved edges remind us of our natural surroundings, making us feel grounded and serene. Curves are inviting and are especially suited to family homes or those entertaining moments when guests can comfortably sit around the kitchen island.”

And if you want to highlight your curvy island then take Patrick O'Donnell's advice, "If your kitchen is all one color then maybe adding a secondary color to the island can elevate the look and give the whole room a new appearance. Islands tend to benefit from a darker color to the surrounding cabinetry."

Luckily, it's not too difficult to learn how to calculate your kitchen island size before you snag your addition.

9. Use it as a table

kitchen island ideas, blue and white kitchen with central island that doubles as a table, bar stools, wooden floor, tiled walls, open shelving, glass pendant lights

(Image credit: Molie Malone Interiors / Country Floors)

In smaller homes when you may not have a separate dining space your modern kitchen island can be used as a multifunctional area for the whole family. 

Helen Parker agrees, "I love the idea of this place in the middle of a room where everyone gravitates, kids, doing their homework with laptops plugged in, someone unloading the shopping and distributing the wears into their rightful places. In fact, there have been kitchens with nothing but an island, an all-encompassing piece of furniture that does everything, including being positioned so you can have the best view to the outside while doing your chores."

Just ensure you have great task lighting that can cope with all the different aspects it may be required for, check out these glass pendant vintage globe lights from Amazon.

10. Choose an industrial look

Stainless steel kitchen with matching units and island, chrome bar stools, cream walls

(Image credit: Benjamin Moore)

Love the restaurant kitchen style of industrial-style stainless steel units? It is clean and sleek for sure and is a great look if you love the minimalist style. 

For cohesion use stainless steel for all of your main pieces, Wayfair's Miriam stainless kitchen island can be doubled up to create a large island if your space allows. 

Whether your kitchen is on the small side or generously proportioned, there's a modern kitchen island design for you. Remember you can play with shape, materials and size to make it work so it suits the space and your families needs. 

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.