Kitchen islands are a popular addition to modern home designs. They provide extra prep space, storage, and seating while defining the kitchen zone. This week we’re exploring 8 clever and creative kitchen island ideas to inspire your remodel or new build. From unexpected shapes to multi-functional designs, there are innovative ways to make your kitchen island as practical as it is eye-catching.
Unique Shapes and Sizes
Kitchen islands don’t have to be rectangular or square. Consider an unconventional shape or size to add character to your cooking space.
Curved Kitchen Island
A curved kitchen island softens the look of the kitchen and creates a more inviting, social environment. The curve allows for seating and promotes conversation. This organic shape works best in large, open floor plans. A curved island can be symmetrical or asymmetrical to fit your space. Mix materials such as wood and marble to add visual interest. Incorporate rounded edges throughout the rest of the kitchen for a cohesive look.
Extra Long Kitchen Island
An extra long kitchen island is ideal for large, open concept kitchens. It provides ample prep and seating space. Use two base cabinets with a long countertop spanning 6 feet or more in length. Include an overhang for seating on both sides. Anchor the ends with larger islands or built-in cabinetry for stability. An extended island creates a natural division between the kitchen and living room.
Octagonal Kitchen Island
An octagonal shaped island adds geometric interest to the kitchen. The eight sides allow for seating all around while maximizing surface area. This shape works well with angled kitchen layouts. Pair an octagonal island with hexagonal backsplashes or floor tiles for a honeycomb effect. Keep the countertop material consistent with perimeter counters for a cohesive look.
Skinny Kitchen Island
A skinny kitchen island is an excellent choice for small kitchens. Slim islands around 20 inches wide can fit in tight spaces while still providing prep space and visual appeal. Use a metal or wood base with a marble slab top to create an elegant, slim profile. Incorporate shelves or drawers for additional storage. Position a slim island adjacent to existing counters or appliances. Floating between cabinets also works for a lightweight look.
Incorporating different levels, heights, and layers creates visual interest and additional functionality. Multi-level islands prevent a monotonous look.
Sunken Kitchen Island
A sunken kitchen island has a section that drops around 6 inches lower than standard counter height. This section allows for comfortable seating while the higher portion provides ample prep space. The sunken level can span just one part of the island while the rest remains raised. Or it may dip on two sides to create U-shaped seating. Use a step-down bar overhang for casual dining space.
Tiered Kitchen Island
A tiered island contains two or more distinct levels at varying heights. Multiple tiers work well in large kitchens with high ceilings. One raised section can serve as a breakfast bar while the lower tier provides prep space and storage. Floating shelves can also connect the different levels. Include two or three steps spanning at least 12 inches between each tier. This dynamic island style makes a bold statement.
Kitchen Peninsula Island
A kitchen peninsula island attaches to the main counters or cabinets on one side. The connecting side features standard counter height. The other sides include an overhang for seating at a lower level. The two heights allow for both prep space and casual dining. Peninsula islands help differentiate cooking and conversation zones. Position stools in the recessed section that faces into the room.
Raised Breakfast Bar
A raised breakfast bar on the kitchen island creates an informal dining spot and seating overhang. Elevate one section of the island about 12 inches above standard counter height. Use taller base cabinets or a thicker countertop to achieve this. The raised counter should span at least 18 inches wide to comfortably accommodate bar stools. Continue the rest of the island at regular prep height.
Storage and Organization
Kitchen islands provide ample space for storage and organization. Maximize function by incorporating drawers, cabinets, shelves, and other organizational elements.
Kitchen Island with Drawers
Drawers built into the base of a kitchen island create easily accessible storage. Large and small drawers can hold cooking utensils, cutlery, bakeware and more. Consider deep drawers to accommodate pots and pans. Full extension drawer glides allow you to view all contents. Include a variety of drawer sizes tailored to your needs. Shallow cutlery drawers keep items organized. Install 3-5 drawers for optimal use of space.
Kitchen Island Cabinet Storage
Base cabinets in a kitchen island provide enclosed storage space. Opt for cabinets with solid doors to conceal or glass fronts to display contents. Use cabinets for storing linens, dishes, or pantry items. Install recycling and garbage pull-outs to keep waste organized. Include cabinets on both sides or all sides of the island to maximize storage. Add interior organizers and pull-out shelves for convenience.
Open Shelving Island
An open shelving island forgoes base cabinets in favor of display space. Floating shelves offer storage for cookbooks, decorative accents, or daily-use items. Glass Shelving illuminates the contents. Use solid shelves in natural wood tones for contrast. Incorporate 2-4 shelves in various sizes that align with your storage needs. Leave space between for an easy-access, uncluttered appearance.
Kitchen Island with Wine Storage
For wine lovers, include dedicated wine storage within the island. Install a wine rack in the base of the island to neatly store bottles at an angle. Or incorporate wine fridge columns for chilled whites and reds. Open racks show off the wine display while enclosed storage integrates seamlessly. Position wine storage near the dining space for convenient access.
Some unique islands serve specific functions beyond standard prep space. Consider these specialized designs to enhance your culinary experience.
Kitchen Island with Sink
Adding a sink to your kitchen island creates a secondary cleanup zone. Position the sink near the stovetop for easy access when cooking. Or locate it on the opposite end from existing sinks to establish additional workflow space. Undermount sinks maintain a streamlined look. Include drains and plumbing to support the sink. Surround with water-resistant cabinetry and counters.
Kitchen Island with Cooktop
Installing a cooktop on your island brings the range front and center. A standalone cooktop allows you to prepare meals facing the rest of the kitchen. Opt for an induction or gas cooktop flush within the counter. Ensure proper ventilation above. Include outlets and gas lines (if applicable) to support the cooktop. Position adjacent to a prep sink for efficient cooking.
Extra Large Kitchen Island
An oversized island will become the centerpiece of your kitchen. Extra large islands spanning up to 12 feet make a dramatic statement. Allow ample room for circulation on all sides. Mix materials by combining a masonry base with wood countertops. Include varied storage options like shelving, cabinets, drawers and open space. Anchor an oversized island parallel to perimeter cabinets for stability.
Seating and Gathering Areas
Kitchen islands easily accommodate seating and create informal gathering zones. Integrate spaces to dine, mingle or relax.
Kitchen Island with Stools
Kitchen island stools establish a casual dining area or drink spot. Allow for overhang on one side to comfortably fit bar stools. Standard overhangs are 10-14 inches. Avoid overcrowding by allowing 24-28 inches per stool. Choose backless or low-back stools that tuck neatly under the counter. Swivel functionality enables easy conversations.
U-Shaped Island Seating
A U-shaped island layout invites seating on two or three sides. The U shape with stool seating fosters interaction and community. Place the open end of the U away from high traffic zones. Size the overhangs to allow leg room and access. Curve the corners slightly for a softer and safer shape.
Wraparound Island Seating
For large kitchens, incorporate seating around the entire perimeter of the island. A wraparound design accommodates many guests. Use a consistent 12-14 inch overhang on all sides. Keep the island centrally located and avoid cramping the surrounding circulation zones. This substantial island works well paired with a large dining table.
Kitchen Island Banquette
Include a built-in banquette as part of your kitchen island for cozy seating. Banquettes integrate storage below bench seating. Position the seating across one side of the island or create an L-shaped bench. Upholster the bench and back cushions in wipeable fabrics. Size at least 48 inches wide for a comfortable gathering spot.
Thoughtful details like lighting, decor and color give your kitchen island personality. Incorporate accent features that reflect your style.
Make a bold style statement by installing eye-catching lighting over your kitchen island. Try a dramatic chandelier, row of pendants or vintage-style Edison bulbs. Position lighting approximately 30 inches above the island counter. Allow proper sight lines from seating areas. Hardwire electrical or install plug-in fixtures.
Add original details and finishes to give your island character. Use reclaimed wood beams or locally sourced stone. Incorporate custom brackets, legs or feet in a memorable shape. Add a sentimental inset like an old family recipe or keepsake. Carve out a chalkboard panel for constantly changing creativity.
Two-Tone Kitchen Island
Employ two contrasting colors to visually define your island from the rest of your cabinetry. For example, use a light countertop material like quartz paired with deep navy blue base cabinets. Or opt for a bold island color like emerald green against neutral perimeter cabinetry. Coordinate any island paint colors with existing trim, hardware finishes or lighting fixtures.
Make the island backsplash the focal point by using an eye-catching tile design. Try a vibrant mosaic, Moroccan fish scale tiles, or geometric patterns. Contrast the backsplash against neutral countertops and cabinetry to maximize the impact. Limit the bold backsplash to just the island area for a pop of color and texture.
Island Size Considerations
When planning your kitchen island, consider these recommended dimensions to optimize both form and function.
- Island width: 36-48 inches wide. This allows enough room for prep tasks and seating overhang.
- Island length: 60-96 inches long. Varies depending on kitchen size and layout.
- Overhang for seating: 10-16 inches. Allows clearance for comfortable bar stool seating.
- Clearance around island: 42-48 inches. Provides ample room for circulation and traffic flow around the island perimeter.
- Seating spacing: 26-30 inches. Leaves enough elbow room and leg room between each stool.
- Height: Standard counter height (36 inches) for main prep areas. Lower bar height (42 inches) for eating zones.
Frequently Asked Questions About Kitchen Islands
Kitchen islands inspire lots of questions. Here are answers to some of the most common inquiries.
How Much Does a Kitchen Island Cost?
The cost of a kitchen island ranges widely based on size, materials, and features. Simple DIY islands may cost as little as $500. Professionally built islands average $2,000-$4,000. High-end designs with premium finishes can cost $6,000 or more.
What is the Minimum Size for a Kitchen Island?
The minimum recommended size for a functional kitchen island is 32-36 inches wide and 48-60 inches long. This provides usable surface area and room for seating. In small kitchens, slim islands around 20 inches wide can work well.
How Much Seating Should a Kitchen Island Have?
Seating capacity depends on your island dimensions and kitchen size. Allow 24-28 inches per stool for comfortable spacing. Islands 60-72 inches long can accommodate 2-3 barstools. Larger islands may fit 4-6 seats. Avoid overcrowding your kitchen with too many stools.
Should Kitchen Island Match Cabinets?
Matching your island to existing cabinetry creates a streamlined, built-in look. However, contrasting your island with different finishes, colors or materials makes it a standout focal point. Either approach works depending on your desired effect.
Can a Kitchen Island Have an Overhang on Both Sides?
Yes, it’s possible to incorporate overhangs on two or even three sides of an island. Allow a 10-16 inch overhang for bar stool seating wherever desired. Keep ample clearance for walkways and traffic flow. Overhangs on multiple sides create a social, interactive island.
Should You Have Two Islands in a Kitchen?
For larger kitchens, incorporating two islands can be beneficial. Allow at least 4-5 feet between islands so they don’t feel crowded. One island can have casual seating while the other provides main prep space. Or float a smaller “server” island near cooking zones.
From curved shapes to tiered levels, this week’s kitchen island ideas reveal the many possibilities beyond just a standard rectangular island. Consider multi-functional islands with storage, seating, and special add-ons like sinks or cooktops tailored to your cooking style. Keep traffic flow, clearance, and seating dimensions in mind when planning your perfect custom island. Incorporate lighting, finishes and details that show off your personality. However you choose to design it, a kitchen island makes a big style statement and serves as the heart of your cooking space.