The kitchen island concept has transformed the way we use the hub of the home. Family-friendly, practical and comfortable to use, today’s work tables, islands and butcher’s blocks often act as the centre of operations – allowing movement around the room. With enough space to work and transfer hot food with ease, this enables the cook to prepare meals while facing and interacting with others at the same time.
When planning the layout, allow for enough walkthrough space between the wall cabinets and island – at least 90cm if possible, to avoid doors and drawers clashing when opened. If space is limited, then a circular design may be the best option, with no sharp corners to knock against. An island can create a practical space divider between the kitchen and adjoining dining or living area. Consider a contrasting colour or work surface material to add impact.
Kitchen island design advice
Designer Matt Podesta defines the ultimate island layout
- Use the island or central table for a specific purpose. I often position the hob and sink on an island, as it then becomes a more sociable, friendly space, with room for both cooking and entertaining.
- If the island is longer than two metres, try to include a waste-chute and prep sink, or at least make sure these are adjacent to your cooking and chopping space, otherwise you’ll spend too much time walking around the island.
- Consider using different materials to define the areas, such as natural oak or ash for the cooking and prep areas, perhaps with a granite or slate work surface, and painted cabinets and a different work surface for storage areas.
- Remember to specify enough sockets and charger points at the design stage. It’s not ideal to retrofit extra services.
1. Grey tone
This stylish grey island has an overhanging worktop that can be used as a quick breakfast table, as well as creating extra space for food preparation. It also incorporates the kitchen sink, freeing up space on the main worktop, and around the hob, for cooking.
2. Handmade range
This handmade island from Chalon is the centrepiece of the room. Rather than it simply being a practical cooking station, it has been turned into a feature with spotlighting from above and accent lighting around its base.
3. Big table
This storage packed kitchen island is actually freestanding, rather than fitted, and allows for a flexible cooking space. If you don’t want to commit to a fixed kitchen, a freestanding unit is a cost effective way of getting the same practicality and look, but it can be moved to one side to create more entertaining space, or can be removed easily if you are redecorating.
4. Classic design
This stylish white island not only creates extra worktop space, it can accommodate three bar stools for a quick and easy place to sit for lunch or a coffee. The extra wide island is also perfect for entertaining, as your guests can sit as the food is prepared, without taking up work top space.
5. Oak unit
For a rustic look in a traditional-style kitchen, go for an oak island like this one. With it’s marble worktop and intigrated gas hob it is still a practical, modern unit but with a classic country look.
6. Perfect panels
Not all kitchens have space for a rectangular island at their centre, and you don’t want the space to end up looking cluttered. The alternative is a circular island like this one. It offers extra work and sitting space, without encroaching on the worktops and cupboard doors around the edge of the room.
7. Double island
If you’re designing your kitchen from scratch and aren’t sure how you want the space to look, consider a multiple island design like this, from Smallbone. It creates a professional feel and will guarantee that your space stands out when you entertain.
8. Bright details
A simple kitchen island with plenty of storage is the perfect way to add a practical work space to your cooking area, but it could also be used to add personality to your kitchen. This simple, country-style space is filled with colour and creativity, simply by painting the centre island a soft pink shade.
9. Bespoke kitchen
If you’re planning having a kitchen hand made for your space, you have a great opportunity to create luxury. This bespoke kitchen is filled with grand accents, including the marble topped and beaded island at it’s heart.
10. Storage space
This kitchen contains a mix of country and modern elements, from the granate worktops to the traditional units. The kitchen island is filled with storage, and combines a curved section, with a rectangular breakfast bar area.
11. Wonderful worktop
This freestanding island has practical shelving beneath and plenty of storage drawers. The worktop is quartz, a hard wearing and resistant surface that will last a lifetime and always looks stylish.
For more inspiration take a look at our gallery of 16 kitchen diners