Kitchen island design tips and ideas

Kitchen islands are a great addition to your kitchen – not only do they increase countertop area and serve as a dining table, but they look stylish too! In today’s blog we’ll talk about kitchen islands – their benefits, situations in which they’re not ideal, and how to design the perfect kitchen island – shape, size, light, everything!

Benefits of getting a kitchen island

Here are some of the many benefits of having a kitchen island in your home:

1. Storage area

If you live in a small home or want to keep your furniture minimal, it can be hard to find space for storage. Kitchen islands usually have cabinets under them, so you can store food items such as flour, and other bulky items which aren’t used daily. It’s also perfect for storing your crockery or dishes.

2. Seating area

Another use of kitchen islands is placing some chairs or stools on the outward side to turn it into a dining table of sorts. Now you can dine close to the kitchen, and you have a dining table without making one. It’s a very flexible piece of furniture.

3. Countertop space

In an open kitchen, you may find that you don’t have enough countertop space when preparing complex meals. The island adds some welcome space where you can chop food, put items out to soak or dry, or gather all the ingredients you’ll need.

 When is a kitchen island not suitable?

So, now that we’ve gone through all the reasons why kitchen islands are great, you must be wondering what its cons are. I wouldn’t say there are any ‘cons’ as such, or actual negative aspects of having a kitchen island. However, there are certain situations and kitchen layouts in which case an island would not be right for your home. Here are some of them:

1. If your kitchen is a closed room

This layout isn’t very popular in America, but if your kitchen is a closed area with a door, then a kitchen island would neither be possible, nor suitable for your home. Packing it into your kitchen would be a little like having a dining table bang in the middle of a bedroom. It’d feel odd and out of place. What you need in that case is a dining table.

2. If you already own a dining table

If you own a dining table that’s in good shape and which you want to keep, you don’t need a kitchen island. The two are effectively the same thing, although islands can provide some storage area as well. Don’t overdo it and try to keep both.

Kitchen island design tips

Now let’s get to the designing part – the fun, exciting bit! Here we’ll cover some of the hottest trends in kitchen island design – from a mobile kitchen island, to kitchen islands with a pull-out countertop. And of course, we’ll cover the basics – kitchen island lighting ideas, size and shape, countertop material, and others. Continue reading below!

Trends in kitchen island design

Here are some of the hottest kitchen island design trends of 2019. We want to start off by saying that trends come and go, but when they go, they don’t necessarily disappear into the ether. Trends are cyclical – they’ll return after a set period. So if you design something that doesn’t fit current trends, don’t you worry – just give it some time, and your piece will be fashionable once again!

And speaking of cyclical trends, the vintage look is in! Vintage kitchen islands look stylish and posh, and remind you of 80s movies. Design a simple wooden island that’ll serve all three purposes, and look cheerfully vintage.

If you prefer something more modern, you can take your pick from unconventional shapes, or try some concealed storage. From L-shaped countertops to hexagons, circles and more, people are opting for unconventional designs that match their home’s look and meet their specific needs. If your living room needs a large centerpiece and you want the island to fulfill that role, a plain old rectangular one simply won’t do! Concealed kitchen storage cabinets that open towards the kitchen are also trending due to their clean, minimalist look.

For a cute, mobile kitchen island, fit some wheels onto the bottom and you can roll and place it anywhere it’s needed! You might think it’d look weird and nightstand-like – it will, a little – but if you design it right it can walk the line between quirky and weird. Large space, appealing design and lightness are key.

Maximize convenience

You want every piece of furniture in your home to not just look pretty and offer some value, but also to be easy to use. Shelves that require you to stand on your tiptoes, drawers that jam every time, a cupboard that shakes ominously when you open it, or a countertop you frequently bang your head on – neither of these would be pleasant to use.

When designing a large kitchen island with seating, people make one of two mistakes – they either make the island perfectly rectangular (like a stick of butter, if you will), so when eating on it you have to lean forward and you bruise your knees on the storage cabinet, or they have the countertop jut out a bit so eating on it is easy (and your knees are happy), but when getting something from the storage area you hit your head on the countertop. Every. Damn. Time.

You want to avoid both.

So how about a pull-out dining area? The island would look perfectly rectangular when the countertop is closed, but when it’s extended it’d look like the latter. This way you get the best of both worlds! Building it might be a little pricey, but if it’s maintained well it’ll last decades and solve two major problems in one go.

Getting the lighting right

Looking for kitchen island lighting ideas? Don’t. Keep it simple and straightforward. The kitchen island will be a centerpiece, and one where you’ll spend a lot of time. You want the light there to be comfortable and simple. You want the kitchen island to feel like a part of your home, not a novelty piece that you get tired of after a few months.

Use a fluorescent lightbulb overhead, positioned so that the light falls directly onto the work surface. We wouldn’t recommend bulbs installed separately in the storage area – that’s usually not necessary. Just go with a simple overhead light that doesn’t hurt the eyes. You want something that isn’t so dim you can’t see your food, while at the same time not being painfully bright.

People who have migraines need to be especially careful about lighting – make sure you won’t have a migraine if you have to work on the island for extended periods of time.

The perfect size and shape

What shape should you go with? If you want a trendy, cool look, an unconventional shape might work for your home. Try to have something that’s reasonably rounded however, because you don’t want to walk into a triangular island as you go about your chores. A hexagon, square, oval or circle would be better – unconventional, yet safe.

And of course, a rectangular kitchen island is ideal. You’ve seen hundreds of pictures of them, so you know exactly how they look. It’s a tried-and-tested classic shape and has a host of advantages – making efficient use of space, offering a comfortable seating area, fitting in with most designs, etc.

As for kitchen island dimensions, the recommended size is 4 feet by 5 feet, but you can go with something a little less square if you prefer. Make sure there’s 2 feet of space around it so you can move around comfortably. If you’re going with an unconventional shape, make sure the layout makes efficient use of square footage. Unless you have a large house that you need to fill up (most people have the opposite problem), you’ll want to be as space-efficient as possible.

Countertop material

Most people use either wood or granite in the kitchen, but what should you use on the kitchen island? The countertop should be easy to use, easy to clean, and should match your home’s overall look. So if your home’s look is largely earthy and vintage, you probably don’t want a quartz countertop.

Both wood and granite are excellent options, since they’re both great to use, last decades if treated with respect, and look beautiful in a timeless sort of way. However, there’s one key difference between the two: weight.

If you like to move things around and rearrange the layout in your home, or if you’re going to move anytime soon, you’ll want your island to be movable. Granite isn’t ideal for that. Stone is unbelievably heavy, so while it’s perfect for fixed pieces of furniture, the kitchen island may, perhaps, not be the best place to use it if you want to move it.

If, however, you won’t need to move the countertop in the foreseeable future and want something that’ll bring a bit of life into your home, granite is a much better option than wood. Its rich, organic design looks stunning, and will make your home look alive and stylish.

 We hope you found this article helpful. Mastering Kitchens is your premium source of information for kitchen design, tips and more!

Legal Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Additionally, also participates in other affiliate and advertising programs, such as AdSense, ShareASale, Awin, CJ, Impact, and eBay, among others, and is compensated for referring traffic and business to them.