Kitchen Island Options

Design a kitchen island that's as stylish as it is practical for your space.


HGTV fan pilonieta, Make your small kitchen feel larger by following an open floor plan. Allow the space to carefully flow into the living or dining room.

Designing the perfect kitchen island—one that best accommodates the needs of not only your space but also your family—can feel overwhelming.

10 Kitchen Islands

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Efficient Elegance

Sleek, ultramodern and seemingly floating on its metal cylindrical legs, this island is a work of art for the contemporary industrial design set. It looks like it was conjured up in an iPod designer's lab for a chic, 21st-century kitchen — functional elegance. Not only does it beckon you to touch its clean, smooth surface, but it handily incorporates appliances, a bar sink and storage drawers. Photo Credit: Fisher & Paykel

Bar With a View

Designer Gail Drury defines the movement and flow of this open kitchen with a set of two islands. A horseshoe-shaped island with a sweeping counter atop a stone base provides bar seating and a bird's-eye view of the prep area. A second island houses an oven and large work counter, allowing the cook to interact with guests while preparing the meal. Photo Credit: Drury Designs/ Designer Gail Drury

Green Gourmet

This eclectic and creative conversation piece is the work of Seattle architecture firm Graham Baba. The island, assembled from found objects and topped with a slab of wood, was designed as an accoutrement for a rustic-modern kitchen, providing flashes of color and a Mondrian-like arrangement that never fails to elicit comments. Photo Credit: Ben Benschneider/Graham Baba Architects

Circular Reasoning

The shape of an island kitchen can determine a room's traffic flow. In this case, an organic oval slab resting on a traditional wood cabinet gently and gracefully guides the kitchen traffic in a circular motion. The island, nevertheless, is the imposing hub of this kitchen. Combining modern sensibilities with older style cabinetry, it is a large, clean surface suitable for a quick bite or a complicated dinner preparation. Photo Credit: Whirlpool

Chip Off the Ol' Block

The unique feature of this sturdy and versatile island is its thick wooden top. That's no ordinary butcher block. JAS Design Build, a Seattle-based firm known for its innovative style, built that countertop out of a reclaimed bowling alley lane. The island is as muscular as a workbench while stylistically matching the clean, straight lines of the wall shelves and cabinets. It is painted green to provide a visual connection with the dining room. The choice of lighting fixtures also establishes a room-to-room continuity. Photo Credit: JAS Design Build

Chill Out

For wine aficionados, a kitchen island is a convenient spot to store bottles and spare yourself the hassle of finding room in the refrigerator. Wine refrigerators come in a variety of sizes and finishes and can be hidden behind cabinetry, though this one is an architecturally interesting addition to the kitchen. Photo Credit: Northland-Marvel

Sophisticated Standalone

They pulled out all the stops for this gracious French-country kitchen. The modern accoutrements are the embedded stove and appliances, but the rest is Old World, ranging from the fanciful woodwork to the glass cabinet windows that match the panes of the kitchen windows. A perfect work triangle is created and cooking utensils are all within arm's reach. The giant window over the sink pours an abundance of natural light over the shoulder of the chef toiling away at the island's stovetop. Photo Credit: Brookstone Cabinets

Pull Up a Chair

These days cooking is a spectator sport, and this island provides a perfect stage. Long, elegant and designed with bar seating and a built-in cooktop, the island is an inviting centerpiece for guests to gather around. A blazing hearth backdrop only adds to the congeniality of the setting. It takes a big kitchen with an abundance of natural light to pull off such a big island. But the weightiness of this gracious piece of furniture is offset by the light-colored cabinetry above and clever peripheral lighting. Photo Credit: George Lambros


An L-shaped island delineating the dining area from the prep area offers an innovative idea for seating. One side of the island provides built-in bench seating that works nicely with a dining table. The other side offers ample bar seating and counter space easily accessed from the stove and sink. Photo Credit: Armstrong Cabinets

All-American Island

Perfect for an active, all-American family, the kitchen island doubles as breakfast table and workspace. The simple butcher-block surface is made for casual living and is supported by sturdy legs that mirror the home's updated Craftsman design. Though this is an island that's built to be brawny, the light color understates its heft. Photo Credit: JAS Design Build

Kitchen island options are endless: counter-height or bar-height breakfast bar; open shelving for display or cabinets with drawers for storage; extra sink or cooktop. And each decision informs another.

Installing a cooktop in the kitchen island, for example, means you'll need to add a hood overhead—along with the appropriate ventilation. As you evaluate your needs, understand that placement here is key.

If you're building in appliances like a dishwasher, you'll want the cabinets in which you store the servingware close by. If you're specifying other bells and whistles, like a warming drawer, microwave oven or under-counter refrigerator, make sure there's enough countertop space above to place a hot bowl without spilling, or place a few cold drinks when guests pull up a seat.

Beyond built-in, storage and counter options, determine if your kitchen allows enough room for seating, whether at a table-style island or breakfast bar.

When friends, family members or guests can pull up a chair (or stool) and stay a while, seating at the kitchen island becomes a necessary luxury, allowing the cook to stay in the conversation, help with homework, or request help with prep work—any cook's dream.

Kitchen Islands

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