What is a waterfall kitchen island? Experts reveal everything you need to know about this "sophisticated" design feature

If you're wondering: "What is a waterfall kitchen island?", our interior pros have you covered on the benefits, how to do it, and renter-friendly options

A white waterfall kitchen island with a wooden base, three Scandi chairs in front of it, three round pendant lights above it, and white cabinets behind it
(Image credit: Searle & Taylor Kitchens)

You may be wondering: 'What is a waterfall kitchen island?' if you've seen the phrase bandied about, but don't fully understand what it means.

We've asked interior designers to explain exactly what waterfall kitchen islands are, the benefits, and how you can bring one into your own place. Even renters can turn their islands into wonderful, flowing design centerpieces.

If you're partial to beautiful kitchen island ideas that ooze luxe and style, you're going to fall for this style technique.

What is a waterfall kitchen island? Your questions answered

Both small kitchen islands and larger ones look so stylish with the addition of this design feature, showcasing continuous material across the island countertop and down the side.

We've curated useful buys throughout and included a Get The Look section at the end, in case you want to start creating your own waterfall kitchen island.

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

What is a waterfall kitchen island?

A white waterfall kitchen island with a wooden base, three Scandi chairs in front of it, three round pendant lights above it, and white cabinets behind it

(Image credit: Searle & Taylor Kitchens)

There are some key differences between a waterfall kitchen island, a design feature of the countertop, and a regular one.

“A waterfall kitchen island turns down at the sides of the cabinetry and flows, like a waterfall, all the way down to finish at the floor,” explains Amanda Wyatt, interior designer and founder of Design Insider.

“By contrast, a traditional kitchen island will have a countertop that runs to the perimeter of the cabinet beneath, with a finished edge,” she adds.

If you're looking for a waterfall kitchen island, the Ebern Designs Roselinde Kitchen Island from Wayfair is a spacious example.

Why choose a waterfall kitchen island?

A black marble waterfall kitchen island with a brown base with a wine shelf, two wooden stools, and light pink cabinets and windows behind it

(Image credit: Simon Taylor Furniture)

For those looking for modern kitchen island ideas, choosing a waterfall kitchen island may be the way to go.

Amanda explains, “This design aspect is still very much in style in contemporary kitchens. A waterfall countertop is sophisticated, seamless, and easy to clean. It also conceals any kitchen island storage you may have stashed underneath it.”

As well as this, it can connect all the different elements in your kitchen, which can make a small kitchen appear bigger.

“By extending the countertop material down the sides of the island, a waterfall design enhances the sense of continuity and unity in the kitchen space,” adds Nina Lichtenstein, principal designer and founder of Nina’s Home Design.

How to style a waterfall kitchen island

A marble kitchen island with a silver sink and two faucets, three curved pendant lights above it, and a pillar,cabinets, and silver ovens beyond it

(Image credit: Vergara Homes)

We’re swooning over kitchen waterfall edges, and if you are too, they are easy to replicate to add to your home.

“I like the idea of going for a full waterfall design. This is where countertop material extends down both sides of the island, covering the entire vertical surface,” Nina says. If this is too much for you, a partial waterfall cascading down one or two sides of the island will offer a more understated, yet impactful look.”

The choice of material is also a key part of this design. Most waterfall kitchen islands go for marble kitchen island ideas, which are always winners.

Amanda adds, “Waterfall countertops are a great place to showcase beautiful marble vein patterning on an uninterrupted stretch of slab.”

For bonus points, Amanda suggests buying another slab from the same lot, (the MSI Carrara Marble Tile from Wayfair is a versatile choice) to create a coordinating kitchen backsplash and some open shelving.

Waterfall kitchen island buys

Whether you're looking for a new kitchen island with a waterfall effect, or want to decorate your existing one, these buys will help you do just that.

Whether you prefer a full or partial waterfall design, this kitchen island design technique can transform your kitchen into a stylish gathering spot. 

“Investigate different countertop materials, colors, and finishes to create a waterfall island that reflects your personal style,” Nina finishes by saying.

Now you know what a waterfall kitchen island is, you can continue finding more ways to make this area look great. We love using kitchen island style ideas to add refined finishing touches.

Eve Smallman
Content Editor

Hi there! I’m a content editor at Real Homes. I've been a lifestyle journalist for over five years, previously working as an editor across regional magazines. Before this, I graduated from Nottingham Trent University a degree in journalism, along with an NCTJ gold diploma. I love running, decorating my rented Victorian home, and discovering new cheeses. For Real Homes, I specialize in interior design, trends and finding the best viral buys.