These Gray Kitchen Island Ideas Actually Make Us Want to Meal Prep

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Plot twist: You can have a gray room that isn't flat and boring. How do you implement the color trend without creating a culinary space that looks blah, though? We suggest you start at the center of the room with a gray kitchen island. Whether you have a small one that stands alone or you managed to score a food prep area equipped with a restaurant-quality setup, any size will look great with a few coats of gray shellac.

Don't feel limited to the typical muddy shades that are synonymous with Seattle, WA winters either. The color deck is actually bursting with rich charcoal hues and blue-gray tints that will shine when paired with any style from transitional to Scandinavian. Plus, the benefits of such a classic palette are endless. Ahead, you'll find nine gray kitchen island ideas to feed your craving, plus paint colors so you can get the look.

1. Warm tones just work with gray.

This kitchen from Rohe Creative does so many things well. We especially like the balance of the warm wood tones with the blue-gray island. The contrast makes the room feel both unique and timeless. Plus, those backless wooden barstools are just begging for someone to sit in them. If you recreate a version of this fresh cook space, just try to keep your various wood finishes in harmony with one another.

Get the look: Behr Submarine Gray

2. Have a little fun with metallics.

Don't be afraid to mix metals in your food prep zone. Many of us have stainless steel appliances, and it's no secret they go incredibly well with gray islands. But what will kick your place up a notch? A sprinkle of copper. Add it to the mix with the help of light fixtures like the ones in this visionary design from deVOL. Or, grab a few copper pans to hang from the ceiling.

Get the look: Valspar Sable Calm

3. Tiny islands can get in on the action, too.

Laura and Nora of Our Food Stories knew exactly what they were doing with this light-hued prep area. They kept their island tiny but decked it out in exactly the same shade as the rest of the cabinetry. Accordingly, the kitchen feels airy but grounded at the same time. And there's so much open floor space. Multiple friends could whip up a dish here and never feel crowded.

Get the look: Behr Zero Gravity

4. Mix it up with a tile backsplash.

In this open space by Amber Interiors, a bit of pattern goes a long way. That backsplash tile creates a monumental impact when paired with a charcoal island. You can replicate the effect, even if you're on a budget, by picking a good removable option. After that, coming up with the rest of your design will be a breeze.

Get the look: Dunn-Edwards Edge of Black

5. Try a two-color combo.

Yes, those exposed wood beams are everything you want in life. But if you're renting and can't install them without losing your security deposit, fear not. A few coats of light gray paint on your kitchen island will elevate the entire room. If you're feeling especially courageous, add a different color to the walls. The combo will end up looking professionally-styled. And who knows — maybe your landlord won't mind the makeover.

Get the look: Benjamin Moore Misty Gray

6. Go with a glossy finish.

If you prefer a dramatic gray kitchen island, consider a paint color with a glossy finish. Not only will the reflective surface bounce light around the room, it will make cleaning spills a breeze! Pasta sauce won't be an issue here. And if you really want to go all out, consider trying wood flooring with a shiny finish, too.

Get the look: Valspar Chimney Smoke

7. Keep everything in the same color family.

Somehow, this farmhouse-style prep station is both cool-toned and warm — we have the cozy gray paint to thank for that. For immediate hygge vibes: Grab a gray you love, apply it to your island, and keep everything else a few shades lighter or darker. Bonus points if you collect earthy ceramics and layer them with textiles and candles.

Get the look: Farrow & Ball Parma Gray

8. A classic look always works.

If you're completely stumped for inspo, a classic design with clean lines and natural light won't let you down. Pair white cabinets with a deep gray kitchen island, and don't skimp on botanicals. You can hardly have a gorgeous cook station without a fresh bunch of flowers. Faux arrangements can work as well, but make sure you see them IRL before you buy.

Get the look: Sherwin-Williams Iron Ore

9. Gray kitchen islands can work in petite spaces.

Sure, you'll want to keep things from feeling claustrophobic if your culinary corner is on the smaller side. But that doesn't mean you can't have a bit of fun with paint. Coat your island in a cool gray shade for impact. And why not add a pop of dusty pink while you're at it? Upholstered chairs can do the trick without overwhelming the senses.

Get the look: Glidden Gray Flannel