Sometimes, you just need to head to an island —and the most popular island destination is the one right in your kitchen. A recent trend report found that 57% of kitchen renovations include an upgraded or new island. And why not? From casual meals to entertaining to homework, the kitchen island is where everyone tends to gather.
We asked area designers to share details about their recent island projects and the features clients covet. Whether you prefer a small, functional spot or a massive, amenity-packed counter, consider these ideas to craft your own island escape.
Kitchen Island Trade Folio
“The owners had an old dining table that they really loved. The shape and size of it wasn’t going to work for their dining room, so we decided to incorporate it into their kitchen island design and build around it.”
Erin Gillig, senior interior designer, LH Design Studio
“Everyone gathers around the kitchen island no matter how big or small. Create an intentional experience that brings you joy. With not a massive amount of space to work around, Kiah and Jacob Farley found the perfect mobile island while antiquing in North Carolina. They switched out the top to match the quartzite perimeter countertops—it’s the perfect blend of old and new with a whole lot of character!”
Everett King Waldrep, Everett King Consulting
An island is often the gathering place when entertaining, so having plenty of seating is a must! When designing an island of this size, we sourced book-matched natural stone slabs to create a beautiful pattern on top of the island, which radiates from the middle. A unique countertop edge detail also adds interest.
Molly Wittig, Wright Design
Lake Keowee Project
This Lake Keowee project boasts two expansive kitchen islands, redefining the art of entertaining. These multifunctional surfaces integrate seamlessly into the open living space, with one dedicated to culinary artistry while keeping the other available for serving or conversation. The design maximizes flow and offers uninterrupted lake views, making it an entertainer’s dream.
Katie Skoloff, In Site Designs
Make a Statement With Your Stone
At this mountain retreat at Lake Toxaway, we used a leather quartzite that was a dramatic contrast from the stone used around the perimeter. We wanted to make a bold statement with the island countertop and tie it back in with nature and the organic mountain setting. We also added the cutout for additional seating on the edge by the refrigerator. It is a perfect little space for a backless stool to slide under in a tight space.
Permanent Countertop Lamps
We have not incorporated this into a design yet, but it is definitely on our radar for the near future. Permanently affixed countertop lamps with pre-drilled electrical that is hard-wired to a switch is such a fresh take on accent kitchen lighting that is different from the usual overhead pendants.
Caroline Brackett, Caroline Brackett Studio of Design
The waterfall island we installed in our clients’ kitchen remodel not only has a contemporary, mitered waterfall edge, the deep blues and grays in the quartzite really tie together the kitchen’s two-tone cabinetry. This custom island was designed with the kitchen sink centered, and the dishwasher installed directly to the right of it. This is a great design option for clients with young kids who want to keep their eyes on the room. We are seeing an uptick in dark grays and deep blues as paint selections. This modern island is painted Sherwin-Williams Peppercorn.
Another popular design feature a lot of our clients choose is to have the microwave installed in the island. Not only does this keep the appliance out of sight and off the counter, it also reduces the chance of spills and burns. Another great option for homes with kids!
Sam Ashmore, Ashmore Builders
We love a large, simple kitchen island with one statement piece, like a sculptural flower arrangement or fruit bowl. Also, having dimmable lighting over the island so you can create the light level needed for the task at hand or the right mood for entertainment. Think less is more. One of our favorite combinations is a leathered black pearl granite countertop with a tambour apron and soft gold hardware.
Ann Nager, DZN Home and Studio
When planning your kitchen island, there are many details to be explored.
- Size really matters. If you do not want to see a seam in a large island countertop, measure before shopping quartz and natural stone materials.
- Counter height and bar height differ.
- Recommended knee space varies for each bar style.
- Touchless faucets are great for the busy chef.
- Let your island be a feature by choosing a contrasting color from perimeter cabinets.
Terry Gillespie, Hennessee Haven