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Family hangout spot, extra cooking surface, or much-needed storage space, there’s no question that the kitchen island is a must-have on most renovation wishlists.

It can take on unlimited shapes, sizes, and finishes (it can even house anything from sinks to stoves and dishwashers). It’s extremely customizable, so no matter your style, functional needs, or room dimensions, there’s likely a kitchen island idea out there just for you. 

Looking to incorporate texture? A reeded effect works wonders. Going for big drama? A waterfall edge gives a luxe touch. Under-island details, from shaker panels to brass sheets, can either blend in seamlessly with the cabinetry or make a statement. And when it comes to seating, the options are endless, from corner to counter to double-sided arrangements. Needless to say, if you’re looking for kitchen island ideas, you’ve come to the right place.


Reeded Siding

Ribbed kitchen island ideas

Photography: Sara Tramp; Design: Dee Murphy

To create the perfect headquarters for The Spin-Off, a preloved children’s clothing consignment startup, designer Dee Murphy wanted to give the employees a playful kitchen that would mirror the brand’s sunny spirit. That meant choosing fun, texture-filled finishes like a blue fish scale tile from Fireclay and a custom reeded island base made of wooden dowels stained to match the Semihandmade Impression Tahoe cabinet fronts. 


Dramatic Waterfall Edge

Marble waterfall kitchen island ideas

Photography: Zio and Sons Creative; Design: Nick Spain

When designer Nick Spain purchased a 1850s Italianate mansion in the Berkshires, he knew he’d be working with countless historical details. In the kitchen, he decided to juxtapose such existing features as a grid-patterned coffered ceiling with hyper-modern straight lines and right angles. The most striking example is the sleek Danby marble island, which steals the show with its dramatic waterfall edge and charcoal-hued veining. The piece anchors the room, drawing the eye towards the center to appreciate its grandeur.


Shaker Panels

Butcher block kitchen island ideas

Photography: Jason Varney

For a cohesive design, opt for under-island panels that match the cabinetry doors and drawers. Shaker panels are a beloved, traditional choice that allows a kitchen to appear uniform throughout. In this warm, rustic kitchen, painting the shaker-paneled base a creamy white makes the island stand out, while still feeling like it belongs with the teal-colored cupboards along the U-shaped perimeter. The result is a consistent look that’s not without depth.


Statement Brass Sheets

Brass kitchen island ideas

On the other hand, under-island finishes can make a serious statement. In Sarah Sherman Samuels Grand Rapids, Michigan kitchen, sheets of unlacquered brass do just that. Trimmed by the designer’s father, the metal is wrapped around MDF plywood to mimic the depth of actual cabinets. The golden surfaces, with their vintage patina effect, contrast beautifully against the Caesarstone Fresh Concrete countertops. They’re clearly the main attraction.


Mixed Mediums

Split surface kitchen island ideas

Photography and Design: Beginning in the Middle

In the renovation of a Victorian house in Columbus, Ohio, Catherine and Bryan Williamson knew they wanted a dark, moody kitchen and went with Semihandmade DIY Shaker doors painted in Behr Black Sable to make it happen. The blogger couple’s stunning, mixed material island, however, was less intentional. The duo fell in love with a discounted Carrara marble slab, but it was only long enough to cover part of the island, so they decided to complete the piece with a walnut waterfall edge. While it wasn’t the original plan, the distinctive outcome defines the project.


Corner Seating

corner seating kitchen island ideas

Photography: Courtesy of Sweeten; Design: Modular Interiors Design Group

Kitchen islands are a prime gathering place for cooking, casual eating, and hanging. This East Hampton, New York kitchen by Modular Interiors Design Group includes a massive stone and wood island that’s ideal for all those things. Its deeply cut-out corner seating area provides plenty of legroom and counter space to dine comfortably yet still have some surface dedicated solely to meal-prepping on the other side.


Double-Sided Seating

Dining kitchen island ideas

Photography: Amber Thrane; Design: Sarah Joy Schmidt

In this contemporary Carlsbad, California kitchen, designer Sarah Joy Schmidt fashioned an island that acts as a dining table. With seats on both sides, family members can perch up on the mint green-hued stools and face each other as they eat. That simple decision makes the island much more than a casual breakfast spot: it’s a family meal setting suited for leisurely quality time.


Counter Seating

Large kitchen island ideas

Photography: Trevor Tondro; Design: Jake Alexander Arnold

When actress Sophia Bush enlisted interior designer Jake Alexander Arnold to help reimagine her 1950s bungalow in the Hollywood Hills, he outfitted her kitchen with a 13-foot-long, terracotta-hued island topped with Caesarstone Fresh Concrete. The dazzling, lengthy piece offers a row of counter seating so that Bush can chat with friends and family as she cooks. The relaxed arrangement is fitting for entertaining, as well as a quick bite for the busy creative who’s always on-the-go.

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