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Kitchen Island Design Ideas for Your Remodel

August 16, 2021 8 min read

Kitchen Island Design Ideas for Your Remodel-Wholesale Cabinet Supply


Remodeling your home can seem like a huge task, but it also has a great reward. You’ll have an updated home! Remodeling can take a long time, but it’s important that you focus on the long-term goal and reward. When remodeling your home, you might have considered things to add to your current space, such as an island for your kitchen. But, you might not know how to go about designing your kitchen island to really make sense for your home. Here are some design ideas that will work great in any space.

Why Have a Kitchen Island?

Kitchen islands are a lifesaver in any kitchen design. They increase your prep space, add storage solutions and can also serve as an eating space so that your family doesn’t have to be far from the cooking area. Without a kitchen island, cooking can feel like a chore.

If your kitchen doesn’t currently have an island, it might be due to the home’s age or even the layout of the kitchen. Some kitchens, such as a galley kitchen, don’t lend themselves to a kitchen island well. However, some kitchens, such as an open kitchen or an L-shaped kitchen, can really benefit from having an island in the space.

Having an island can also add a unique design element to your kitchen. Whether you choose to make the cabinets on your island a different color than your other kitchen cabinets, or you place unique lighting over your kitchen island, it will serve as a focal point in your space that guests will always be drawn to whenever they visit.

Your kitchen island is more than just a place to prep food. Many people remove the formal dining room from their homes and instead just eat at the kitchen island, or create an eat-in kitchen. Many families have kids who will sit at the kitchen counter to complete their homework while parents cook. Some professionals participate in virtual meetings at their kitchen island while enjoying their morning cup of coffee. Others play board games or use it to lay out large spreads of appetizers or entrees for family gatherings. A beautiful kitchen island is a true piece of a home these days, and almost every homeowner describes wanting one.

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The History of the Kitchen Island

Kitchens didn’t used to have islands. And, kitchens didn’t used to be as big of a selling point as they are today. In fact, most kitchens were located far away from the communal areas of the home because they weren’t used by the homeowners. Instead, kitchens were placed near the rear of the home. It was a good idea to have the kitchen near the rear of the home so that servants could get from the storerooms, smokehouse or the barn easily. They didn’t have kitchen islands, per se, but they did use large tables to prepare and plate food to be taken out to the family and their guests.

a unique kitchen island

Of course, as time went on and less and less people relied on servants, more people needed larger kitchens to cook at home. And, the kitchen islands of before simply ceased to exist. Instead, many people had cased openings in their kitchen above their sinks so that food could be plated and put in the formal dining room. Most kitchens were U- or L-shaped, and as the idea of apartment living took hold, many homes took on the idea of a galley kitchen, built for efficiency rather than entertainment and leisure.

a close view of a kitchin island with a double basin sink

Nowadays, it’s hard to find a newer home that isn’t an open concept. Most homes have a large kitchen area accompanied by a breakfast nook or a corner for a small pub table and stools, complete with an island or a peninsula that lets you look right into the living room. They’re typically right off the living area instead of stuffed in the rear of the home, and some of them are larger than the master bedroom. For many, having a dream kitchen is the number one goal of homeownership – to create a kitchen that’s both beautiful and practical.

Many historic homes still have traditional kitchens near the rear of the home, typically long and narrow and without a flow. Appliances are haphazardly stuffed in corners or between windows in ways that don’t make much sense, but, as time has gone on, were necessary to function. A lot of older homes still feature a washer and dryer located in the kitchen right next to the sink. Homeowners who purchase these homes typically look to remodel the kitchens to look more modern and flow much better. Whether that means closing up the current electricals in the kitchen and moving it to a different area of the home or opening up walls between the formal areas and the kitchen to create one large space, each homeowner does things a bit differently.

Ideas for Your Kitchen Island

Whether you’re a homeowner renovating a historic kitchen or remodeling one from the 1970s, there are a variety of design ideas you can choose from when creating the perfect kitchen island. Here are some of our favorites.

a dark island with a couple of barstools

  • A dark island: Contrast is one of the best design features out there. If you’ve chosen to install white cabinets for the cabinets that border your kitchen walls, consider installing dark cabinets for your island. This will give your kitchen a fun contrast that will catch everyone’s eye as they walk into your space. Go for backless barstools here so that you can show off the most of your contrasted kitchen island.
  • A wooden pattern: On the side of your island that faces the entrance to the kitchen (or the one that doesn’t have any cabinets), consider adding wood paneling. You can create a herringbone pattern or just line up shiplap for a rustic look. If your entire aesthetic is farmhouse, industrial or rustic, then this is definitely the way to go. Pair it with a set of iron pendant lights to complete the look. If you aren’t sure about adding the paneling, our European-style cabinets come in a variety of finishes that can create a unique pattern for your kitchen island, setting it apart from the rest.
  • Built-in spice rack: Your kitchen island should be as functional as it is focal. A built-in spice rack is a great way to increase the storage space in your kitchen island. Part of the goal of a kitchen island is to give you more storage solutions, so finding ways to incorporate storage solutions into your kitchen island is a must. Some homeowners put their sink and dishwasher at their kitchen island, but for older homes or homeowners remodeling on a budget, you don’t need to spend the extra money adding additional water lines to your island. Kitchen islands with a large counter slab are great for rolling out dough, measuring ingredients and storing groceries as you put them away.

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  • A rolling island: Some homes just aren’t built for kitchen islands, especially older ones. But, if you still need increased prep space, why not get a rolling island? They’re typically more narrow than fitted islands, where they’re attached to the floor. Rolling islands are great because they give you more storage and prep space without taking up as much floor space as a fitted island. And, if you need more floor space in your kitchen, your rolling island can go to another part of your home.
counter slab
  • A stunning counter slab: If it’s in your budget, why not get a kitchen island countertop that’s to die for? Whether you choose marble or even stone, a mouth-dropping countertop will do wonders for your kitchen design. Choosing a countertop that’s different for your kitchen island creates contrast, which is always good in a kitchen design.
  • All-in-one: For a truly awe-inspiring kitchen island, make the entire thing out of the same material. A kitchen island which has a countertop that extends down the back of it is jaw-dropping. Complement it with the other cabinets and counters in your kitchen for a seamless design. Together, it will make for one unique kitchen design. If you’re looking to do this with marble, consider ways you can cut back on costs elsewhere. Marble is one of the more expensive materials to install in a kitchen. One of the best ways you can curb costs on kitchen remodels is by installing RTA cabinets – simply installing the cabinets yourself instead of buying them pre-assembled.
  • An extended countertop: An extended countertop is great for the kitchens that have the square footage and space for it. Instead of your barstools coming up flush with the edge of the kitchen island, the countertop is extended out to effectively separate the eating space from the rest of the island in a seamless transition. This way, people eating at one side of the counter won’t be in the way of whomever is prepping the food or washing the dishes. This is also a good idea for anyone who’s considering placing their cooktop on their kitchen island. That way, no one will accidentally place their hand on the hot cooktop or spill their glass of wine on it.
Island shelf
  • A shelf for all your cookbooks: Most people agree that they’d cook more if they had more prep space – and a kitchen island gives you that! In a kitchen, having enough storage space is a necessity, so why not add some shelves in your kitchen island for your cookbooks? Whether it’s a new hobby you’ve picked up or you have cookbooks from your grandmother to showcase, a shelf to place all your cookbooks is an innovative way to make your kitchen island stand out.
  • Monochromatic: Consider keeping your kitchen all one color. Keep the island, cabinets, countertops, backsplash and even the additional kitchen decor all one color with natural accents to give it some contrast. The stark monochromatics will make the space feel completely contemporary. For a pop of color, place a bowl of fresh, seasonal fruit on the counter. Your kitchen will look like a work of art!
  • Butcher block: Butcher block is a great choice for a kitchen island countertop, especially if that’s where you’ll be doing most of your meal prep. Its simple, wooden look doesn’t take much away from an overall design. In fact, it allows you to amplify other areas of your space that you might not have been able to focus on before. Because of its simplicity, butcher block looks great in any kitchen, and it’s a budget-saver, too. For homeowners who are looking to do their remodel on a strict budget, butcher block is a great option that works well in every space.
  • A bright base: Who says you can’t go bright in your kitchen space? Consider choosing a kitchen island with a brightly colored base, such as yellow or blue. This design choice is perfect in homes that are modeling a countryside design. Bright, sky blue offset with brass knobs and fixtures looks beautiful paired with soft pink accents and a white subway tile.
unique barstools
  • Unique barstools: Sometimes it isn’t the kitchen island itself that needs to be the focal point, but the items that it’s paired with. Set against a unique backsplash tile, a kitchen island that features barstools with interesting backs will instantly turn your island into a design feature. If you don’t have the budget to get custom barstools, visit your local antique store. There are lots of good finds hidden away. You just have to look for them. Who knows? You might even score a matching set.

Designing a kitchen island isn’t difficult – but it is a great way to show off your design style. Installing one in your kitchen remodel will go a long way in helping you create the kitchen of your dreams.

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