Unfinished Kitchen Islands

Unify the look of your kitchen island—and match your existing cabinetry—with unfinished kitchen islands.


Sarah Richardson's Kitchen Design. I went with rustic reclaimed barn board on the island, plus black hardware and an oak floor. Spread out the functions in a kitchen so that as many people as possible can work at once.

Unfinished kitchen islands are a great solution for homeowners looking to match the finish of the kitchen island with the particular finish of their existing kitchen cabinets.

20 Dreamy Kitchen Islands

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Family-Friendly Hot Spot

Once cramped and dated, this kitchen featured in HGTV Magazine received a total overhaul to open it up to the rest of the home and make it the family's favorite room in the house. To create a spot for homework and casual family meals, a Restoration Hardware furniture piece was topped with a durable zinc countertop to serve as an island. A wide stainless steel kick plate along the base protects it from shoe scuffs.

Photo By: Roger Davies

Old is New Again

Design diva Sarah Richardson gave this kitchen a trendy industrial edge with an island clad in reclaimed barn boards installed in a herringbone pattern. Topped with pricey Calacatta marble and fitted with a sink, the island serves as both a handy prep space and a convenient spot to enjoy a snack.

Work Hard, Play Hard

Home to the dishwasher, sink, trash and recycling bins, this glossy black island works hard for the family during the week then plays hard on special occasions -- the 7-foot by 3-1/2-foot island offers plenty of serving space for entertaining. See more photos of this kitchen that was featured in HGTV Magazine. Design by TerraCotta Properties

Harness the Power of Paint

The bright blue island in this predominantly white traditional kitchen demonstrates paint's power to completely change the mood of a space. Designer Susan Manrao used just a splash of the happy hue to make the whole room feel less formal and more on-trend.

Sarah's Cottage Charmer

To cozy up her farmhouse kitchen, designer Sarah Richardson painted the massive island in a buttery yellow shade to set it apart from the surrounding walls of white cabinets. For added charm, she also hit salvage stores to find items like the turned newel post used to support one corner of the breakfast bar.

Fit for a Chef

Any chef would be happy to call this kitchen home. The large industrial-style island features a heat-resistant concrete countertop and pro-style gas range with plenty of counter space to spare. An open wire rack below keeps pots and pans within easy reach. Photo courtesy of Place Architects. Photo by Aaron Britton

Build It to Suit Your Lifestyle

When planning a custom island for your kitchen, truly make it custom so it fits your family to a T. This cheery kitchen, featured in HGTV Magazine is dominated by a massive workhorse of an island. At 8-feet long and 38-inches high it's 2 inches taller than a standard island to better suit hubby James, who is 6'7" and likes to help with meal prep. Rather than have the kids sit on tall barstools at the island, the homeowners decided instead to attach a small table to the island's side so the kids are at a safer height.

Photo By: Ryann Ford

Old World Elegance

This Arts and Crafts style kitchen by Austin Patterson Disston Architects is luxurious to say the least. Custom features and high-end fixtures were used throughout but the kitchen's real star is the massive burled wood island that was even plumbed to include a small prep sink.

Photo By: John Bessler

Build In Functionality

Sophisticated -- but unexpected -- spaces are designer Sarah Richardson's claim to fame and this chic-but-user-friendly kitchen is no exception. When designing the island, Sarah worked in conveniences like a grab-and-go beverage chiller, under-counter microwave and a small second sink so more than one person could prep meals at the same time.

Make the Island Fit the Space

If you think that an island only works with an open-concept layout, this galley kitchen designed by TerraCotta Properties is proof positive that an island can work in a smaller kitchen. The key is to customize the piece to fit the space and allow for traffic flow -- around 36 inches -- on all sides.

Make Every Inch Count

You can never have too much storage -- especially in the kitchen. Drawers and plumbing for a sink installed on the opposite side of this island created a few inches on unused space. Rather than waste valuable storage space, it was put to work as shallow inset shelves.

Large and In Charge

With serving space for a crowd, this 16-foot-long island in the 2014 HGTV Dream Home is clad waterfall-style in durable granite. On the kitchen side, the island offers up a pro-style gas range and lots of storage space in black, Shaker-style cabinets.

Photo By: Eric Perry © 2013, Scripps Networks, LLC. All Rights Reserved

Make It Truly Custom

Certainly an outside-the-box thinker, Sarah Richardson designed this island with three different elevations rather than as standard boxy cabinet. Each elevation has its own purpose: the short section holds entertaining essentials and can act as an impromptu bar, the main section houses a microwave, more storage and a small sink and the tall section is a counter-height breakfast bar.

A Food Pro's Kitchen Hub

Professional caterer Peter Callahan gave HGTV Magazine a tour of his redesigned home kitchen that features storage and organizational tricks he's learned over 20+ years working in the food biz. He put them all to work when designing the kitchen's real workhorse: the 5-1/2-foot by 6-1/2-foot island that has open shelving at one end for pots and pans and stacks of drawers for entertaining essentials: linens, flatware and serving pieces.

Photo By: Photography by Laura Moss; styling by Gina Provenzano

Go for a Happy Hue

Just a short distance from the shore in Jacksonville, Fla., this HGTV Smart Home kitchen's watery color scheme certainly puts you in a vacation state of mind. Designer Linda Woodrum let the beachy locale inspire the island's tropical turquoise shade that she contrasted with crisp white in the wall cabinets, quartz countertops and glass subway tile backsplash.

Make It a Focal Point

A wood-toned island warms up this cozy, cottage kitchen by designer Tobi Fairley. Rather than paint it white to match the rest of the cabinets, she chose a chocolatey stain to show off the wood's rich grain. A clever, shallow recess allows a pair of barstools to tuck neatly under the island when not in use.

Create Your Own Storage Central

A kitchen this large leaves plenty of room for a massive island -- and the homeowners, Alison and Paul, took full advantage, designing a custom island large enough for several people to prep food at once and to serve a whole crowd buffet-style. Completely top of the line, this kitchen island houses tons of storage space, a wine rack, bookshelves and an additional sink. Image courtesy of Allison Amon.

Consider Functionality

When designing a kitchen island, consider traffic flow through the space and how the island will connect to adjacent rooms. Here, the designers cleverly recessed an area to allow the barstools to tuck under so they didn't impede on the adjacent dining room or block traffic flow to the patio door. Photo courtesy of William/Hefner Architect, Inc. Photo by Laura Hull

Sleek and Streamlined

For those loft lovers out there, this kitchen provides some serious inspiration. The designer chose a streamlined and open island to accommodate the large space. Its clean lines and subdued hue prevent the island from competing with the loft's architectural features. Photo courtesy of Jessica Locke. Photo by Niles Harrison

Best of Both Worlds

What a dream space. Designer Rebekah Zaveloff mixed traditional-style cabinets with industrial-style light fixtures and barstools at the kitchen's sleek black island to create a look that's an instant classic.

Unfinished islands, carts, tables or trolleys come with many of the same features and functions as finished examples (think sturdy shelves, towel pegs, and storage drawers or cabinets). Some unfinished islands come with overhangs and enough leg room to accommodate a breakfast bar and seating.

Purchase an unpainted kitchen island and stain or paint it to unify the overall look of your kitchen. Or allow the piece to make a dramatic statement and become the center of conversation by painting it in a bold but complementary color.

Another interesting option is to keep the countertop natural and paint the base and legs in a bright pop of color to create aesthetic appeal and contrast. Install casters on the unfinished island's legs to make it mobile and increase its function.

Get Started: 10 Steps to a New Kitchen

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