Styling a kitchen island with seating: 13 stunning looks to try

Designing a kitchen island with seating is an important but easy task, check out our ideas to get it right...

Styling a kitchen island with seating: 13 gorgeous looks to try in your space
(Image credit: Katie Lee)

Considering a kitchen island with seating in your home? You'll find that most kitchen island units now come with seating anyway, which is oh so practical, and, one of the top perks of a kitchen island unit. Make sure it's good-looking seating that is functional and in tune with the overall feel of the kitchen also, and you have yourself one showstopper of a kitchen space. 

There are many ways to add a comfortable and handsome spot to perch on in your kitchen. A little advanced planning will ensure you choose the best island with seating for your space, and needs. Lucky for you, we have all the key design elements to consider below, plus stunning island seating ideas to get you inspired too.

You may also want to check out our kitchen ideas page for more expert advice and inspiration on everything to do with this part of the home. 

  • If you are after kitchen design advice specifically, head over to our in-depth feature for all you need to know. 

Plan your kitchen island with seating

When planning. your kitchen island with seating set up, 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 maximising space in small kitchen designs but try to imagine them in use too. Will your guests be sitting in the way of a 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 and sharp knives.

1. Enhance space with a floating effect

Kitchen island seating idea in a large white modern kitche

(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, costs from £6,200.

2. Go for comfort with banquette style kitchen island seating

Kitchen island with seating on a lower level

(Image credit: Humphrey Munson)

Banquette seating offers the cosy intimacy of your favourite 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 (also seen top), upholstered in luxurious leather, is by Humphrey Munson.

3. Colour match your kitchen island seating for a cohesive scheme

Colourful dark blue kitchen with kitchen island with seating and peacock mural

(Image credit: John Lewis of Hungerford)

After a kitchen island with seating that's going to bring colour into your space? Brightly coloured bar stools can play a vital role when colour co-ordinating your kitchen. We love how the zesty lemon hues of these Ernest bar stools work with that stunning mural and the statement light shade.

If you love this kitchen, head over to our colourful kitchen design ideas

4. Island seating for small kitchens

If you are after a small kitchen island with seating, all you really need is a small overhang and a couple of simple wooden stools to create the perfect resting point for your morning coffee. 

If you are after more inspiration on how to make the most of a small kitchen, check out these beautiful small kitchen ideas

Small kitchen island with seating in a traditional luxury kitchen

(Image credit: New England Shutter Company)

5. Double up your kitchen island dining options

Modern small kitchen island with seating

(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. 

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

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 and natural timber is seriously covetable. It could work the other way round too, say industrial style, rustic bar stools in a modern kitchen

Ghost chairs as kitchen island seating for a Secret Drawer kitchen

(Image credit: The Secret Drawer)

7. Small kitchen? Choose island bar seating

kitchen island with seating in a bar style

(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

For more small kitchen ideas, make sure you check out our dedicated feature. 

8. Make legroom for all with kitchen island stools

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. 

9. Choose low-level kitchen island seating for maximum comfort 

low level kitchen island seating from Kitchen Architecture

(Image credit: Kitchen Architecture)

While a bar stool is the perfect pit stop for a quick lunch or glass of vino, there’s no denying a dining chair is more comfortable for languishing over dinner. If your kitchen is your only dining option, you are going to need a kitchen island with seating that is actually comfortable, so consider a drop-down kitchen island like this sleek design by Kitchen Architecture.

10. Add some luxury with velvet kitchen island seating

Glam red velvet island seating at a white breakfast bar

(Image credit: Lewis Alderson)

We are so in love with this kitchen island seating idea. 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 provide plenty of kitchen island seating space too. 

If this kitchen is a bit of you, head over to our white kitchen gallery for loads more ideas and inspiration. 

11. Go for an Art Deco vibe with your kitchen island seating

Martin Moore New Deco kitchen with kitchen island seating

(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 kitchen island seating, which completes the Jazz-era-inspired design scheme (and takes comfort to the next level). 

12. Pick an industrial kitchen island with seating for a boho vibe

Kitchen breakfast bar withe 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 house plants to complete the relaxed look. 

13. Go for a simple kitchen island seating in a Shaker-style kitchen 

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 fit perfectly in this no-fuss (but also totally gorgeous) kitchen. To recreate this look, pick island seating in neutral colours that are a near match to your kitchen cabinets to keep the look cohesive and classic. 

If you love the look, find more Shaker-style kitchens, over in our gallery. 

More kitchen design know how:

Linda Clayton
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...