15 Kitchen Island Ideas to Inspire Your Remodel
Welcome to island life.
I have an ever-changing dream kitchen design always floating around in my head. Let me qualify this: I am in no way actually planning to remodel my kitchen or buy a new house with a dream kitchen. But, I feel pretty confident that as long as I live, I will always be planning a kitchen remodel in my head. I'm actually 100 percent OK with this. Call it a hobby, if you will.
A few things are certain in the dream kitchen. One of those is an oversized, totally tricked-out island. The island's exact details are still up in the air; so today I'm sharing a few of my favorite ideas. Take a look, and get inspired for your own remodel (in your head or IRL, no judgement either way).
1: Choose a Bold Color
Spacious Transitional Kitchen With Blue Island, Globe Pendant Lights Between Exposed Beams and
A pair of globe pendant lights positioned between exposed wood beams hang above the large blue kitchen island. Four chairs line one side of the island facing built in white cabinets topped with a trio of windows. A black stove section with matching black range is surrounded with a white subway tile frame.
Consider contrasting the color of your island with your perimeter cabinets, like designer Ashley Clark of sKout did here. Bold blue and green hues are totally on-trend and pair well with neutrals.
2: Accent With Metallic Pendants
White Contemporary Open Plan Kitchen With Gold Pendants
Hovering over the island, this kitchen's golden pendants are like sculptures with their cords and color in crisp contrast to the white cabinets.
Don’t forget lighting when designing your island, as it’s a key part of the overall look. If you’re leaning toward neutral tones for cabinetry and countertops, try a shiny, metallic finish for your pendant lights.
3: Add an Eating Bar
Gourmet Kitchen With Eating Bar
A wooden eating bar tucks up nicely behind the marble island in this luxury kitchen, a perfect spot for a casual bite or a cheering section for the chef!
Brown Harris Stevens Residential Sales, The Hamptons, a member of Luxury Portfolio International
Do you desperately need an island for prep space but love the thought of casual dining? This idea is for you. An eating bar will provide a spot for quick meals while keeping your actual island countertop open for food prep.
4: Hang Shelves Above
Struggling with storage space? Purchase shelving proportionate to the size of your island to hang directly above.
5: Tuck Your Barstools Under
Bold Kitchen With Forest Green Cabinets and Gold Metal Accents
This contemporary kitchen features sleek forest green cabinets paired with gold accents, like the cone shaped pendant lights. Two teal leather stools with gold metal legs are positioned at the black marble kitchen island, while the gray floor tiles are arranged in a stylish herringbone pattern.
If storage isn’t an issue, design an island with a countertop overhang to house your barstools. This will help keep your kitchen neat and walkways open.
6: Integrate Appliances
Timeless Style Transitional Kitchen Featuring Large Island, White Cabinets and a Mix of White and Gray Marble Countertop
Sharp lines and a sleek transitional style decorate this spacious, white kitchen. A large island with built in stainless steel ovens is topped with marble gray countertop for a decorative change from the white countertop over the wall cabinets. A pair of globe pendant lights, a decorative backsplash panel and a colorful rug add finishing touches to complete the design.
Jackson Design and Remodeling
If you have the option to install a large island, take full advantage by housing appliances within it. Often, the island provides a central location, perfect for everyday appliances like a microwave.
7: Warm It Up With Wood
White Contemporary Kitchen With Wood Paneled Refrigerator
A wood paneled refrigerator matches the surprise paneling on the back of the island. It's a fun way to add life and unique personality to this stylish kitchen.
The kitchen is typically one of the most neutral spaces in a home. If yours feels a bit dull or lifeless, consider wood for your new island. As you can see in this stunning kitchen designed by Serendipite, nothing warms a room quite like a dose of natural wood.
8: Blend It In
Blue and White Transitional Kitchen With Gold Pendants
This charming kitchen sparkles with pretty color pairings (love the pinks and reds of the rug and the blue-gray cabinets) pulled together by a trio of gold pendants above the island. Clean-lined barstools are the perfect friendly and so-stylish finishing touch.
Make your island blend seamlessly with the rest of your space by choosing the same cabinets, countertops and hardware used on the perimeter walls. To further this idea, opt for the same metal for your lighting and barstools, just as Massucco Warner Miller Interior Design did here.
9: Include a Prep Sink
The open kitchen flows into the adjacent dining room, with a coordinating color scheme and design details that help the two spaces blend together seamlessly.
Robert Peterson, Rustic White Photography
If you plan to use your island as a workspace, consider installing a prep sink. The addition is definitely worth it for avid chefs.
10: Match Your Hood's Hue
Light and Bright Kitchen With Exposed Beam Vaulted Ceilings
This renovated kitchen features exposed beam vaulted ceilings paired with white cabinets and blue details, like the kitchen island. Two wood stools are positioned next to the island for casual dining, while a metallic pendant light and hardwood floors add finishing touches.
Jennifer Boomer/Getty Images
If you like the idea of a colorful island but want to make sure it ties into your design, paint your range hood the same color. This will give your space an effortless flow.
11: Half It
Plenty of Space for Food Prep and Consumption in Large Modern Kitchen
This modern kitchen provides plenty of space for food prep as well as food consumption. Countertops line two sides of the kitchen, and a large kitchen island provides even more space for preparation. Once preparation is finished and the meal has been prepared, the large kitchen island seats seven-perfect for a night of casual dining.
Andrew Pogue Photography
Who said an island can’t multitask? If you need yours to do double duty, consider one that has two distinct halves — one for dining and one for storage and prep.
12: Waterfall One Side
Family-Friendly Kitchen is Sophisticated, Transitional
In the center of the kitchen is a waterfall island with classic marble countertop, oversized brass geometric pendants and blue faux leather stools with brass frames. The tile backsplash behind the oven is a geometric marble with metallic inlay, which creates a glamorous focal point.
Waterfall countertops are the it-girl accessory for kitchen islands, but have you ever considered a countertop that only spills over on one side? I love the asymetrical edge it gives this kitchen by Coddington Design.
13: Waterfall Both Sides
Marble Waterfall Island Wows in Charming Brick Kitchen
Two glass pendant lights hang above a spacious island with a marble waterfall countertop, creating a stunning focal point in this charming kitchen. Exposed brick walls lend character to the space, and white cabinetry keeps the room feeling fresh and bright.
BUT — you can’t go wrong by going all out. The marble waterfall countertop in this kitchen designed by Julie Dodson is simply stunning.
14: Consider an L Shape
White Open Kitchen With Modern Wooden Bar Stools
Although the cabinets don't meet the ceiling, white walls and transom windows close the gap to prevent the kitchen from looking disjointed and blocky. A large kitchen island anchors the room, providing additional counter space, storage and an eat-in breakfast bar area. Modern wooden barstools bring in warmth and a natural element to offset all the white surfaces.
An L-shaped island can bring immense functionality to your space, especially if your kitchen is tucked in a corner.
15: Double Up
Gray Modern Chef's Kitchen With Cowhide Stools
Gray cabinets and counters and white walls set off quirky details in this chef kitchen like the cowhide stools and artwork. Golden pendants bring a note of elegance.
Maybe you’re working with a blank slate and wide, open spaces. By all means, then, don’t stop at one! Install two separate islands, one for working and one for dining.
So Many Options
From traditional tile to trendy glass — and shiny metal to rustic wood — there is seemingly no end of choices for kitchen backsplashes today. "Tile is still the most popular backsplash material, with natural stone a fast-growing second," says John Morgan, 2013 National President of the National Kitchen and Bath Association. "But with the right installer, you can make just about any material work."
Salvaged Materials: Antique Wood Mosaic
A foil to shimmering stainless steel, this mosaic tile backsplash from the HGTV Dream Home 2014 kitchen is fashioned from antique boat wood. Impervious to moisture, it requires neither grout nor sealant.
Salvaged Materials: Reclaimed Wood
Paper: Picture Perfect
Break from tradition with a custom kitchen backsplash that doubles as a photo wall. Designer Brian Patrick Flynn gave a sentimental twist to this sleek, modern kitchen with a cutting-edge backsplash printed from a favorite family photo. Orange accents brighten the monochromatic palette.
Reflective Finish: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
This mirrored backsplash might be the fairest of them all. A small kitchen space immediately feels larger with this mirrored surface and bright white marble countertops.
Reflective Finish: Antique Mirror
The antiqued mirror backsplash in this 19th Century Japanese kitchen has just enough reflective qualities to brighten the small space without being too distracting. The mirror's vintage finish pairs well with custom wood cabinetry.
Budget Friendly: Tin Sheets
Once a traditional ceiling adornment, tin is now making its way into the kitchen backsplash arena. The tin backsplash in this white kitchen is a budget-friendly fix that also adds visual interest. White cabinets and countertops keep the small space feeling light and open.
Metallics: Penny Tile
This contemporary kitchen takes a sophisticated approach to a penny-tile backsplash. Round metallic tiles pop against black walls, black door, cabinets and shiny black countertop. The hanging lights echo the backsplash's geometric design.
Metallics: Copper Tile
Ceramic tiles covered in a thin coating of copper comprise this backsplash by Tami Holsten of Bear Trap Design. Although there is a protective coating on top, says Holsten, "Copper is a living material, so it will naturally patina over time. In my opinion, that just makes it more beautiful." When cleaning copper, she recommends using a pH-balanced cleanser as anything acidic will damage the finish.
If you think all work and no play can make a backsplash dull, there are plenty of ways to bring a light touch into a hardworking kitchen. Here, a backsplash painted with chalkboard paint allows homeowners to keep a recipe handy, write family reminders, or just doodle. The best part? When they want to change the message — or clean things up — they just wipe the chalkboard clean.
Ceramic + Glass Tile
Can't decide between ceramic and glass? This 'Island Star Mosaic' from Porcelanosa's Victorian Collection is a combination of matte porcelain and iridescent glass, which creates subtle changes when it reflects light. Design by Nancy Blandford.
Ceramic + Glass Tile
"The kitchen is a warm, transitional style," says designer Nancy Blandford, CMKBD, ASID, "with an eclectic mix of traditional materials. The blacksplash serves as the perfect way to tie together distinct elements, including glass doors, an unusually-shaped island top and the range hood."
Limestone + Glass Tile
In this kitchen, the mix of materials was created not by a tile manufacturer, but by the designer. Brigitte Fabri, CMKBD, of Drury Designs, wanted to create a "castle wall" effect in this kitchen, without detracting from the room's focal point — the copper hood. For most of the backsplash, she chose a large scale 12x24 'Crema Marfil' limestone because the larger the tile, the fewer distracting grout lines, she explains. And behind the range, she used a honed glass tile called 'Malaga Cove Wings' by Stone & Pewter. To add the illusion of greater height to the 8-foot ceilings, Fabri brought the tile down as close to the range as she could and elongated the niche area all the way up to the hood itself.
Tumbled Stone + Glass Tile
Another gorgeous mixed-media backsplash: Here, glass is mixed with today's popular natural stone. To ensure that this kitchen by Remodelworks looked distinctive, the client installed glass tile behind the range to accent the 4x4 tumbled stone tile that makes up most of the backsplash. Then, interior designer Dixie Lovejoy came up with the idea of turning the tile vertically, so that it looks like a waterfall or rising steam.
Stone: River Rock
Although the most common use of these river rock pebbles is actually shower floors, photo stylist Chris Walker and her husband came up with the idea of using them as a kitchen backsplash. They asked their kitchen designer John Petrie, CMKBD, president elect of the National Kitchen and Bath Association, to install it on the walls. "The one-of-a-kind, free-flowing edges of the pebbles not only mimic the flow of soft teal veins in the dark green soapstone countertops," says Walker, "but also balance the vertical lines of the Shaker-style cabinet doors." Lesson learned: when you're shopping for backsplash materials, ask the vendor to show you floor tiles, as well. While not every product will adapt well to vertical application, you may hit upon an unusual — and easily implemented — idea.
Stone: Quartzite Sandstone
This textured, rustic backsplash makes it look as if this kitchen by Hamilton-Gray Design is fully constructed of stone. But, in fact, the quartzite material actually comes in pieces that are applied just like tile, making it a viable choice even in a home with plaster or sheetrock walls.
Stone: Translucent Agate
Rustic not quite your style? Stone can be sleek and dramatic, as well. This backsplash by Eurotech Cabinetry Inc. features backlit 'Concetto' — a translucent product fabricated of natural agate. The remainder of the backsplash is 'Blue Lagos' Caesarstone. Hanging storage rails suspended from it to the right and left of the stove provide handy access to cooking tools.
Stone: Marble Mosaic
Like glass, stone can be cut and carved into various shapes for backsplash tile. The tile Jamie Florence Designs used here looks like a mosaic but comes in easily installed 12 x 12 sheets.
Stone: Marble Mosaic
The imperfections and color variation of the stone create interest — offering the same natural uniqueness of marble slabs with the added appeal of a geometric design. Design by Jamie Florence.
Stone: Marble Checkerboard
If you don't find marble tiles in the exact sizes and shapes you want for a backsplash, marble can be custom cut. To bring in some of the lush green landscape beyond the large windows of this home, designer Eileen Kollias, CKD, cut green and white 12-inch marble tiles into 6x6 squares with chamfered edges. The tiles are laid in a harlequin pattern than brings a bit of whimsy into this elegant home, and serves as a dramatic backdrop for prized pieces such as the homeowner's antique coffee grinder/coffee storage cabinet.
Stone: Honed Marble
Tami Holsten of Bear Trap Design chose the 'Toros' black marble that surrounds this kitchen for its dramatic contrast with the soft white cabinets. "The white veining — which is what distinguishes marble from granite — instinctively draws people in for a closer look, and provides the rustic character I was looking for in this kitchen," says Holsten. Two-inch-square cast-metal tiles add a warm, rich feel.
Stone: Honed Marble
Designer Tami Holsten laid the tiles in a classic brickwork pattern and ran the backsplash high up on the wall, providing a large backdrop for the dramatic stove hood made partially from a large oak tree from the property.
Familiar as it is, a brickwork tile scheme can look fresh — if the tile itself is eye-catching. The kitchen pros at Drury Designs chose this brown subway tile to add contrast to an all white kitchen — and to make the space appear larger, because the glass tile reflects light. Running the tile all the way up the wall also adds dimension to the space by drawing the eye upwards.
While the array of unique — and expensive — tile available today is vast and appealing, you don't need to spend a lot of money to achieve dramatic results. Kitchen designer Jodie Gould, AKBD, used basic subway tile for the backsplash in her own kitchen, but laid it in an eye-catching herringbone pattern, and designed an unusual shape for the edge. "We thought it might look weird to just have the tile end on a straight line since there's so much on that wall," says Gould, "So we drew a curve on some MDF and put some molding together on site. It was actually very easy and very inexpensive."
Pattern: Stacked Columns
But of course, there's more than one way to lay out rectangular tiles. Rather than stagger these glass tiles brickwork-style, designer Nathalie Tremblay of Atelier Cachet chose to stack them in neat columns. The long, low dimensions of 2x10 white glass rectangles — and the fact that they run only partway up the wall — lend additional horizontal focus to the kitchen's sleek, low profile design.
Unusual Materials: Volcanic Rock
In addition to reflecting light, glass backsplashes can actually bring sunshine into a kitchen. The vistas beyond this kitchen were nothing to write home about, so designers at Carnemark installed detail-obscuring glass blocks on either side of the stove's backsplash, which is made of volcanic rock by SieMatic. Quarried in Italy, this stone is similar to that used by the ancient Romans to build roads, and has been used for various surface applications from building cladding to tile to countertops for centuries.
Unusual Materials: Industrial Steel
If the thought of using familiar materials in a new way appeals to you, consider industrial steel. As part of the contemporary/industrial look designer Tom Lutz, AKBD, was asked to create for a client's kitchen, he installed a backsplash of 20-gauge stainless steel — the same material used in restaurants and hospitals. Using the steel as a backsplash rather than a horizontal counter surface, Lutz notes, makes it less likely to become scratched (although the material will still develop some wear and tear over time, especially if ceramic-bottom pots repeatedly rub against it.) To keep the steel from separating from the wall behind it or damaging the adjacent cabinets, Lutz cut the metal larger than needed and tucked the margins behind them.
Unusual Materials: Indigenous Wood
Like steel, wood is a familiar material than can be made to look entirely fresh in a backsplash application. The sugar maple wood of this backsplash by Susan Fredman was harvested right on the property of this beach house in Michigan. "I really prefer to use only wood that can be grown where it resides," Fredman says.
Unusual Materials: Repurposed Plywood
If you don't want to harvest new wood for your backsplash project, you can take your cue from Karen Swanson of New England Design Works, who had her contractor rip sheets of found plywood into 6-inch-wide planks, and install them 3/8" apart on the walls of this kitchen. This resourceful backsplash — a modern interpretation of shiplap paneling, Swanson explains — is painted with Benjamin Moore Satin Impervo paint, which makes it stand up well in a kitchen. "Painted plywood is not as 'bullet proof' as some other backsplash choices one could make," Swanson concedes. "I would suggest wiping up spills quickly and not allowing standing water next to this — but then again, I also suggest that with a tile and grouted backsplash."
Unusual Materials: Recycled Glass
Another great example of design that reduces, reuses and recycyles: The backsplash and counters in this Bay Area kitchen by Massucco Warner Miller are Icestone terrazzo, made locally in Berkeley, CA, of concrete with flecks of recycled bottles and glass. In addition to being eco-friendly, Icestone is extremely durable — a great material, MWM's Julie Massucco notes, for houses where there are avid cooks, small children and messes in general. Because of its sea glass colors, this terazzo would be especially lovely in a beach house.
Unusual Materials: Modular Panels
Beach house kitchens needn't be blue and green, of course. Heather Pond, CMKBD, chose this paintable 'Dune' backsplash by Modular Arts for her own family's cottage on Cape Cod — and decided to keep the panels white. In addition to referencing the seashore vibe of the surroundings, the white backsplash creates dramatic shadows at night, when the cabinet lights shine upon their textured surface.
Colorful Glass Tile
The glass in this blacksplash was chosen to complement art-glass pieces in the homeowners' collection. To achieve the look, large sheets of glass were cut into tiles and laid individually. "The challenge in working with glass is getting the best colors and control," says Risë Krag, LEED, AP, who designed this kitchen. "There is a natural flow of pattern that is not consistent in color. And the variances are beautiful but need to be implemented skillfully."
Glass Tile Mosaic
Kitchen designer Alison Solar took her inspiration for this glass-tile mosaic from Art Nouveau artist Alphonse Mucha's 1895 poster of fruit. Working closely with a local mosaic tile artisan, Solar had the backsplash, which wraps around much of the 250-square-foot kitchen, fabricated of tiles cut entirely by hand from 14x14 sheets of glass. A slightly darker grout than the colors usually used with glass helps enhance the design by making the details pop.
Etched Glass Tile
Another one-of-a-kind glass installation, this custom backsplash in a kitchen by Glenda Anderson and Susan Haas, CKD, CBD, of Details International, reflects the clients' love of their Hawaii home. The kiln-fired glass, created in the Honolulu workshop of a local glass artist, was both etched and carved from the back, leaving a smooth front surface for easy cleaning. LED lighting highlights the texture and carvings in the glass.
One-of-a-kind backsplash mosaics can be made of ceramic tile as well. Mosaic artist Vicki Morrow of Tile Art Mosaics in Scottsdale, Arizona, designed and fabricated this backsplash for clients who collect southwestern art.
Made of ceramic tile that Morrow custom designs, cuts and glazes for each of her backsplash installation projects, this design was inspired by the pottery of the Mimbres Indians of southern New Mexico.
3-D Custom Glass Tile
"The backsplash is the blank canvas of the kitchen," says John Ryba, who designed this unique aquarium-inspired backsplash with three-dimensional glass fish and bubbles. "It's an opportunity to add color, function and harmony to the overall design."