Inspirational kitchen island ideas: Upgrade your kitchen with an island
The Checkatrade guarantee
When you contact a trade through Checkatrade, our guarantee could cover you for up to 12 months. You can claim up to £1,000. Exclusions and T&Cs apply.
Kitchen islands offer a whole host of additional benefits to the heart of your home. It’s often thought that you can only have a kitchen island in a large space, but they’re actually an excellent solution for all kinds of layouts.
To help you upgrade your kitchen in terms of both functionality and style, we’ve put together some inspirational kitchen island ideas to help you find the right solution for your budget and available space.
They’re great for adding a multifunctional element to your space as well as a focal point where you can cook, socialise, eat and relax.
Islands can also separate different areas of your kitchen from one another, with the creation of a more formal dining area and/or cooking area in an open-plan living space, for example.
A shaped island unit with curved edges or indents can also direct people and create a practical walkway around your kitchen space.
Make your kitchen island work for you
Here are some kitchen island ideas to consider when redesigning your kitchen:
Install integrated appliances
Your kitchen island can hold extra kitchen appliances, such as an under-counter fridge or a wine cooler so that guests can help themselves to drinks easily without using your main fridge.
You could also choose to install your hob on your island if you like to cook in a more social environment.
Add extra outlets to your kitchen island
A kitchen island is also a great spot to add some extra plug sockets or USB ports. These always come in handy for charging devices and using electrical appliances, such as blenders and steamers.
Add bar stools for an extra seating area
Bar stools are ideal when entertaining guests in an open-plan kitchen space or if you want to create a more informal dining area for breakfast time and quick meals.
Using your kitchen island as a seating area also works well if you occasionally work from home or want to get the kids involved with cooking.
Add drawers and cupboards on both sides
To get the most out of your kitchen island, think about adding storage space on both sides with drawers and cupboards. You can even do this underneath a seating area with barstools, in order to store items that you don’t need to reach for often.
Use task lighting to make your island a focal point
A great way of drawing attention to your kitchen island as a centre point is to hang task lighting above it. You could opt for two or three light sources and choose pendants that tie into the rest of your kitchen colour scheme. Or, go for exposed bulbs for a more industrial style element.
Go slimline for smaller kitchens
If you have a smaller kitchen, a slimline island is perfect and can double up as a workspace and breakfast bar with a small amount of overhanging work surface.
A slimline island can also make your small kitchen feel more welcoming to guests, providing a centre point at which people can stand or sit.
Use contrasting colours
When designing your kitchen, you can opt to match your island to the rest of your kitchen units or choose a different style or colour to really make it stand out.
Many homeowners tap into the popular trend of choosing a darker colour for the units of their kitchen islands. Or, choose a different material, such as reclaimed wood panelling, to create a statement feature.
Round the edges
For smaller kitchens, an island with rounded edges can provide a better flow to the space.
Rounded edges can make it easier to manoeuvre around your kitchen without catching sharp corners.
Portable and moveable kitchen islands
Kitchen islands on wheels can be so practical for busy family kitchens.
If you don’t have a dedicated space for a kitchen island, a portable one allows you to change things up and move it to different areas of your kitchen.
There are several different portable styles to choose from, such as a classic style butcher’s block or something with cupboards and ample storage.
If you’re thinking about adding a kitchen island to your home or you want to upgrade your current kitchen, you need to find a trusted professional to ensure your requirements are met.
Kitchen island with seating ideas
Kitchen islands are often the central hub of your kitchen design. So, it makes perfect sense to set up a seating area around your kitchen island where friends and families can gather.
Kitchen island with seating ideas are plentiful and can work with the size of your space, your décor and your lifestyle needs.
You might want a couple of bar stools to perch and enjoy morning coffee or a cluster of comfy chairs for a family dinner.
Kitchen island seating will help you create a super sociable buzz for a kitchen party or simply a place to sit and chat while the cook prepares food.
Pull up a chair and check out our 16 kitchen island with seating ideas.
1 Elongate with a joined up table
Continue your kitchen island with a built-in, low level table. It’s the perfect design for long linear kitchens that stretch along one wall.
Add in a few dining chairs for a stylish, space-saving eating spot.
2 Sneak in a few bar stools
Even the smallest, slimmest kitchen island can include a seating area. Simply design a neat overhang in the worktop and add a couple of classic bar stools.
Yes, small kitchen islands with seating can be as useful as any grand design.
3 Fit in four seats
Kitchen island with seating for four is such a practical option – especially if you don’t have room for a separate dining table.
This large marble workbench island is the perfect spot for fitting in four bar stools. The inky black finish creates a striking contrast with the white marble surfaces.
4 Enhance an open-plan kitchen
Open-plan kitchen living rooms are the heart of the home for many properties – especially in apartments.
In this design, a seating area at one end of the island faces out to the relaxing zone at the other end of the open plan room. This creates a sociable harmony where everyone can converse with ease.
5 Build in a bench seat
Harness one side of the kitchen island so it doubles up as the back of a built-in, bench seating area.
Decorate with stylish, upholstered cushions – and if possible, utilise the underneath of the bench seat for extra storage. Furnish with a freestanding table and chairs to create a communal seating area for eating, socialising and catching up.
6 Swap for a breakfast bar
If you don’t have space for a freestanding island unit, consider adding a small, low-level breakfast bar at the end of a run of units
This neat, square peninsula becomes a handy seating area for pulling up a chair. It’s also out of the way of the main cooking zone.
7 Cater for bigger get-togethers
Kitchen parties just got epic with this long, linear island unit which has enough space for at least seven bar stools. You need around 50-60cm of space per person for comfortable seating.
We also love the modern, atmospheric copper and graphite colour mix in this open plan layout.
8 Allow enough legroom
A simple timber ledge is sometimes all you’ll need for a kitchen island with seating idea.
Make sure the overhang on your kitchen island is deep enough to push bar stools underneath and that’s there’s enough room for people to sit comfortably.
Kitchen experts recommend an overhang of 12 inches (or 30.5cm) – but go bigger if possible. Do be aware that deep overhangs might need support depending on worktop material.
9 Sit around a square island
A central square island unit is a practical kitchen design for cooking, preparing food or just sitting.
It’s important to ensure you have space between the island and perimeter base units for clear walkways, doors to open freely and seating to be pushed out unhindered.
10 Luxe up your seats
Upholstered stools in a luxurious fabric will ramp up your kitchen island with seating.
Choose warm, luxe fabrics in sophisticated hues that are still wipeable and washable – a must in a busy yet high end kitchen!
11 Break up storage with seating
Design a central seating alcove in between storage units for a space to slot in bar stools. Think carefully what to store in the cupboards either side of the stools.
Perhaps fill with glasses, mugs and bowls, even a wine fridge, so guests can help themselves without getting in the way of the main cooking hub.
12 Pretty in pink
Soft blush pink is one of today’s new neutrals and is a brilliant way to create a modern, timeless mood in this kitchen island seating.
Accent with accessories in an earthy palette and a natural worktop to ground the all-over pink scheme.
13 Go retro with chrome stools
14 Max out on modernist lines
Modernists will love the brutal silhouette of this stone clad island unit made from chunky slabs of natural stone.
The harsh lines have been cleverly tempered with simple, circular stools to subtly soften the look.
15 Colour block your island seating
Colour blocking in the kitchen is a clever way to define functions: pale blue for perimeter cooking and storage; bright yellow for the more sociable aspect around the island unit.
This matching, citrus yellow bar stools is a brave contrast against the pale blue perimeter units – but we love it!
16 Introduce curves
Curves are all the rage for 2023 interiors – and the kitchen is no different.
This simple kitchen layout is enhanced by the curvaceous island unit and curved stools. The rounded edges are also a plus point for families with young children, as there are no corners and hard edges for potential scrapes and bangs.