Many people refer to the kitchen as the heart of the home. And if that's the case, there's one particular spot that gives this room all of its character. Also known as the location where loved ones gather to chat and nibble, the kitchen island doubles as a cutting board, a homework station, a hub for extra storage space, and even a dining table with comfy barstools in a pinch.
Whether it's a stand-alone kitchen feature, a DIY island cart, or a freestanding one on wheels, these do-it-alls can transform your food prep area. Islands first became popular in modern homes during the mid-20th century, and today, they're almost standard in many cook spaces. Some feature Carrara marble countertops, butcher block, and even subway tile. As an added bonus, whether you have a large kitchen with an open floor plan or a small one, there's an island that can work for you.
Additionally, homeowners and renters alike tend to enjoy islands because they provide a focal point, anchoring the overall kitchen design through material and color choices. And if you're considering one to finish off the rest of the kitchen remodel, our tips, tricks, and advice will help you prepare.
Kitchen Island Design
So, you're renovating your kitchen and considering investing in an island — congrats! First, you have to decide on the design: Do you want a freestanding or built-in option? Both have their benefits.
A built-in kitchen island idea can be incredibly custom. You can select your preferred countertop material, paint colors, and hardware finishes. Need additional counter space for all those cookbooks and small appliances too? You can customize your island's storage layout as well.
On the other hand, the freestanding variety has its pros, too. If you're sticking to a budget, purchasing a ready-made version will be much friendlier to your wallet. And these tend to work better in small kitchens. If the island has casters, you can even move it out of the way whenever you need additional room.
Kitchen Island Styles
Next up is choosing a style that will suit your space and overall interior design. Whether you have a rustic kitchen that needs more of a modern accent or a contemporary meal prep space that could use a bit of edge, we'll help you find the perfect fit.
If you prefer a sleek cook space that features the newest appliances and stainless steel accessories, a modern kitchen island is probably the perfect choice. You don't have to sacrifice personality for modernity, though. This marble island feels luxe and of-the-moment. You could even carry the stone to your backsplash for a seamless design idea.
There's something about traditional cook spaces that just feels cozy. So it makes sense that you need a cozy centerpiece island to complete the effect. Don't worry that these old-world additions will feel stuffy either. With the right accents (such as fun light fixtures, bright white kitchen cabinets, and a colorful rug), a classic island will have character and feel fresh.
Ready to bring a pop of retro color into your kitchen? This is how you do it. A long island decked out in a midcentury hue like the vibrant green shown here will contrast beautifully with the wood touches that are synonymous with MCM style. And if you have the space and budget to spare, consider having a professional install your cooktop directly into the counter for an island feature that feels super seamless.
If clean lines and sparse colors are your faves when it comes to interior decor, you'll likely love a minimalist kitchen. This wood island features bleached wood and a subtle white top. And even though the hues are simplistic, the rest of the kitchen showcases a few statement pieces to bring everything together.
If you love to combine organic materials with rugged features, may we suggest an industrial kitchen island? Whether you go with a vintage option that's full of wear and well-loved dings and scratches or a more modern version that showcases cast iron or sturdy steel, you won't regret choosing a more hardy island. In fact, they do especially well in kitchens because you don't have to be too precious when cooking and serving food.
Whether you like typical farmhouse kitchens or ones that have a dose of modern farm style, a complementary island to match the bucolic feel will be a welcome touch. Go for one that features rustic wood. But don't be afraid of color. A vibrant shade like the one shown here will make your cook space the envy of everyone who comes to visit.
Additional Details to Consider
After you've chosen the style of your kitchen island, you're not quite done. There are a few more things to think about.
For example, would you like to install a sink? A kitchen island sink can be a helpful addition — it provides you with an opportunity to have not one but two cleaning areas and create a full-on functional station. You can work on dishes while you visit with family or friends.
And that's not all — kitchen island storage is something to ponder, too. How much space do you want to devote to organization? You can go with several cabinets and drawers, tucked-in cubbies, open shelves, or even install a wine rack or a bookshelf.
For the final decision, don't forget about kitchen island lighting. It's quite literally the cherry on top of the proverbial cake that allows you to add a dash of personality and eye-catching flair to your cook space. There are pendant lights which are quite common since they fill space nicely and provide downlight where you need it most. However, you can also opt for track lighting, suspension lights, or a chandelier to frame your culinary hub.
Where to Buy Kitchen Islands
Now you're ready to shop for the kitchen island of your dreams, and we've got the best resources.