20 Kitchen Island Design Ideas | Midwest Living
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20 Kitchen Island Design Ideas

Bring beautiful workspace, storage and style to your kitchen with a custom or portable island. These design ideas suit a variety of styles and budgets.
  • Renew salvaged parts

    Look to architectural salvage or antiques shops with a workshop for a custom (or at least custom-looking) island that won’t break the bank. An Indiana couple selected old moldings and doors at Green Oak Antiques in Rochester, Indiana, where workers then built this 5-foot-long island. The island provides bar-height seating on one side and storage space for trash and dishware on the other. A bright aqua coat of paint makes the island pop against white walls and cabinets. 

  • Go with faux

    Instead of installing real soapstone countertops on this contemporary barn-inspired island, the homeowner opted for durable laminate countertops that mimic soapstone’s natural patterns but cost much less. (Putting soapstone counters on the island and perimeter cabinets would have upped the price by $2,800.) Though laminates that look like natural materials don’t feel like the real deal, they require far less maintenance.

  • Made for entertaining

    A 9-foot-long island encourages guests at this Michigan vacation home to gather in the cottage-style kitchen while food is being prepped. Barstools offer seats for guests to chat with the cook—yet stay out of the chef’s way. Beaded-board cabinetry and low-maintenance quartz countertops complement the modern country aesthetic.

  • Budget-savvy

    The most basic built-in islands, like this cottage-style design with just cabinetry and a countertop, are an affordable way to boost counter space and storage in a kitchen. The simplest designs cost between $600 and $1,000. Adding plumbing and electricity for appliances quickly increases the price.

  • All about balance

    This open Wisconsin cabin with soaring ceilings called for a heavy custom island to visually balance the space. Plus, the island offers loads of storage, a prep sink and a microwave. Hand-rubbed stained cabinets coordinate with the rest of the sophisticated rustic kitchen. A large custom island like this one, with plumbing and electricity, typically costs between $3,000 and $6,000, though some reach $15,000.

  • Carted away

    A bargain library cart on wheels serves as the island in this modest vintage-style kitchen in Illinois. The bottom two levels store dishes and linens; the top serves as a little buffet or prep area. The homeowner loves the flexibility of a moveable island when entertaining friends.

  • Family style

    The owners of this Michigan vacation home designed a custom island with a built-in booth for gathering. It’s a clever idea that gives the kids a convenient place to have a snack or play games as meals are being prepped. The U-shape design also creates lots of counter prep space with storage below. Black honed countertops contrast white inset cabinetry for a contemporary cottage scheme. 

  • Small-space solution

    A counter-height table (36 inches tall) works in a pinch when space is tight and the budget is small. Though you won’t be able to add plumbing or appliances, the table will expand prep space for just a few hundred dollars. Because it’s moveable, you can easily upgrade in the future. 

  • Color counts

    Sometimes a colorful accent is all that’s needed to take an island from pretty to peppy. Red barstools wow this country-style island, defined by flat-board paneling on the island base, marble countertops and a country-style bridge faucet. 

  • Industrial and farmhouse-style kitchen

    Mixed materials

    This kitchen combines industrial and farmhouse styles. Stone, barn board and corrugated metal give the walls interesting texture. A large island offers plenty of work and gathering space. Contemporary Windsor chairs highlight the cool design.

  • Open and airy

    An island that you can see through, like this simple green-painted unit, makes a room feel bigger. Open shelving on one side adds to the casual style. 

  • Set a table

    For a furniturelike design, replicate the look of a dining table with your island; just raise it to counter height (36 inches tall) and top with a solid-surface countertop. It creates a dramatic look in this classic white kitchen. 

  • Storage stuffed

    If a kitchen island needs more oomph (and you have pretty dishes to display), remove some of the cabinet doors, as the homeowners did on this chunky island. It softens the look and shows off the color and pattern of dishes.

  • Pull-out prep space

    This pretty chartreuse island gains bonus prep space with a cart that slides in and out of the main island. Because of the cart's lower height, it’s perfect for rolling out cookie dough or piecrust.

  • Twice as nice

    A second sink on the island makes this traditional white kitchen work well for multiple cooks. Plus, the large island brings much-needed storage so that windows (instead of upper cabinets) can go above the sink. 

  • Create boundaries

    A long, narrow island visually separates this kitchen from the connected living room and dining room—and provides casual seating for the whole family.

  • Book nook

    An island with built-in display shelves on one side is perfect for showing off favorite cookbooks or magazines—and keeping them within reach.

  • Double the fun

    For the ultimate entertaining kitchen, the owners of this Missouri home installed two islands. This allows them to easily make multiple courses or use one island for prep and one for serving. They positioned the island with the main prep sink close to the refrigerator, so it’s easy to grab fruits and veggies to wash and slice. The second island (with the wood top) becomes an appetizer or dessert buffet during parties. A lower marble surface provides a separate spot for rolling dough when baking. Storage underneath holds the mixer. 

  • Narrow island

    In smaller spaces, choose a slim island to keep the kitchen aisles open. This island offers storage and work space, but no area for dining. 

  • Coordinated color

    A natural palette of green, gold and brown guided the design of this traditional family kitchen. For a fresh and inviting space, the owners painted the kitchen island and the upper cabinets a soft green hue. Painting the lower perimeter cabinets the same shade would have been overpowering. A butcher-block counter brings the earth tones to the island top.

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