How to plan a kitchen island

Kitchens are typically the heart of our homes, providing a place to cook, eat, socialize, and even work. It’s no wonder, then, that kitchen islands have grown in popularity since the 1980s, when open plan living and the demand for multifunctional space became fashionable.

Islands often feature in a kitchen redesign as they are a perfect way to create additional workspace, provide additional seating, a statement feature, a central hub – or all of those things!

A kitchen island can work in small or large kitchens – it all depends on the proportions and practicality. While they are built into many modern kitchens, you can buy an island from online retailers and kitchen designers.

In this article, we will give you some kitchen island ideas and show some beautiful examples to inspire you.

This kitchen island from London-based bespoke design firm Jack Trench is the JT Slab model, which features a ‘floating’ worktop with an integrated breakfast bar.

What do you want from your kitchen island?

Before deciding on a kitchen island, think carefully about the role you want to play, as this will influence the model you choose. If your kitchen doesn’t have enough space, you may want space for an appliance or sink, or just an extra work surface for food prep. You might want it to be a stylish centerpiece that offers a multifunctional cooking area. Or extra storage could be your priority, as an island design can offer closets, shelves and drawers.

A kitchen island can also be used to clearly separate the work end of a kitchen from the living area: this allows the chef to have a sociable position when entertaining while keeping guests out of the kitchen area.

Seating on the kitchen island

Another main reason for installing a kitchen island is to create more seating as it can be styled with an overhang or a drop leaf and provide space for people to sit underneath. The standard height for an island is 36 inches, but you may want to go a little higher if you’re including a seating area, and an overhang of 15.75 inches is advisable to provide comfortable legroom. When thinking about bar stools, it is equally important to adjust the island’s height correctly to allow enough legroom and be able to slide the stools underneath when not in use.

The right proportions for your kitchen design

Choosing the right island size is crucial to a successful kitchen layout. There must be 48 inches of clearance between the kitchen cabinets and the island to allow easy access around them. If your island unit is too big, it will be awkward to walk around. Beware of overcrowding your kitchen or placing an island in a difficult location; The design is crucial as the whole kitchen revolves around it.

Kitchen island functionality

Smart storage solutions to create extra space include:

Countertop options

Hardworking and stylish options include:

  • Chopping blocks for butchers

This S-shaped kitchen island from Broadway Kitchens has a high-gloss finish and features dual sinks and seating for four.

Kitchen island style options

A kitchen island offers the opportunity to introduce a new colour, shape or material into your kitchen and the choices are almost endless. The use of ribbed or fluted paneling is all the rage now, while for a traditional look tongue and groove paneling creates a country kitchen feel and the shaker style is universally popular. Here are some kitchen island design ideas to think about:

  • Whether you like the informality of a breakfast bar or envision a more formal seating arrangement, consider a contrasting countertop material to set it apart from the food prep area. Variations in height will also demarcate areas for different functions.
  • A kitchen island can be round, square, oblong, freestanding, or on casters to be portable and add versatility.
  • A kitchen sink can keep a kitchen running smoothly.
  • Flowing shapes add movement and interest, for example a waterfall edge bringing the surface material down to floor level creates a seamless effect. Using a surrounding material like marble creates a sense of luxury.
  • Add mixed materials based on interest, e.g. B. a wood chopping block or quartz or stone slabs.
  • Adding open shelves is a great way to display objects, and a bookcase at one end of an island can work well.
  • A curved breakfast bar can often be added to one side of an island.
  • L-shaped breakfast bars are a great way to increase space.
  • A luxurious option could be a double island: one for food preparation and one for seating.
  • Don’t forget to think about your flooring and how it works with an island.


Statement lighting brings out the best in your kitchen island. If you have different areas for food preparation and entertaining, you may need to create the right lighting for each. Being able to dim bright lights to dim is great, and often unobtrusive spotlights can be fitted, with focal point lighting across the island.

Pendant lights hanging from a high ceiling can make an impact provided they are hung at the right height and remember odd numbers are more aesthetically pleasing. Wall lights emit a softer ambient light that can contribute to a relaxing atmosphere and can be sensibly combined with ceiling lights.

plumbing and wiring

Some kitchen islands are portable, but if yours is going to be a permanent fixture, you might want it to have connections for a sink and cords for an oven or other electrical appliances.

Here are 6 awesome kitchen islands to let your imagination run wild!

Bespoke kitchen designer Tom Howley’s Hartford kitchen updates classic Shaker style. Shown in an industrial-style setting, this large island features ample Silestone Yukon countertop space that provides a convivial beverage or breakfast area. Detailed features include beading around the lacquered doors and drawers.

This stunning U-shaped island from Life Kitchens uses its breakfast bar to separate the room’s living and dining areas. The LUXE model features a variety of understated details, from sleek handle-less cabinets to splashes of gold, rustic and contrasting textures to create a warm, contemporary living space. The raised outer worktop accommodates bar stools that can be pulled up underneath.

Howdens has a range of kitchen island ideas that suit both smaller kitchens and open plan designs. This sleek island unit features shallow depth cabinets that provide additional storage in a small kitchen, as well as a seating area.

This kitchen island by Blakes London spectacularly demonstrates how to create zones in a kitchen by acting as a beautiful divider between the work and social areas of the room. An eye-catching kitchen island like this can add instant character and create a focal point.

Neptune kitchen islands can be freestanding or fitted with integrated sinks or hobs. This model from the Charlcote series creates a striking contrast and is the focal point of the kitchen. The open shelving is a great place to store large items and maximize storage options. It’s a modular construction so it’s flexible to fit a smaller kitchen and can also include seating.

The Mitzi kitchen island by Wayfair is made of solid wood and derived timber products. It’s a classic design that offers space for food prep, storage and closed drawers. It also has an expandable work surface on the back.

Are you a fan of kitchen islands?

Maybe you have a top tip for choosing a great kitchen island?

Let us know in the comment box below.

You might also like

Comments are closed.