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10 smart kitchen island ideas

Roland Bull Roland Bull
Eclectic style kitchen by Sobrado + Ugalde Arquitectos Eclectic
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The kitchen is one of the most utilised rooms in the house, constantly transforming between chef's corner, bar, workspace and social arena. The kitchen island is an ideal addition to any home, giving a feeling of spaciousness and allowing for a greater distribution of surface area and storage capacity. Indeed, if planned correctly, these structures can be made to fit in most kitchens, elevating the space from a functional cooking area to a welcoming locale for culinary experimentation and casual dining. 

As a design feature, kitchen islands can serve to create a subtle break in floor-planning that can be useful to delineate creative styles amongst kitchens, formal dining rooms and living areas. Best of all, kitchen islands can incorporate a seemingly limitless combination of materials, colour schemes, moods and themes, accentuating the unique personality of your home.

What follows are 10 great ideas to incorporate kitchen islands into your home, drawing inspiration from some of the world's most inventive architects!

1. Lighting is everything

E2 KITCHEN Minimalist kitchen by arQing Minimalist



A functional kitchen island will often be used both as an area for food preparation and for casual dining. Thus, it needs to benefit from a decent amount of light. We recommend direct sources such as hanging lamps that can be illuminated to varying degrees, aiding detail-driven food preparation or creating an ambient atmosphere for socialising. 

These low-hanging fittings are just the ticket to provide high visibility for cooking up storm and for highlighting the results. The frosted aluminium helps to avoid the overt shadows or glare that can be produced from shinier materials.

2. Stone surfaces

The hero of this kitchen is doubtless the strong, stoic granite surfaces, which add character and warmth to the space. Not only does this beautiful stone bring personality to the kitchen, it's also easy to care for and clean, meaning that budding chefs can cook without fear of damage to their surroundings!

Architect Enrique Cabrera's aim here was to make the most of the natural light flowing into the kitchen through the wide doorway. Hence, his decision to contrast earthy brown granite and wood grain surfaces with white walls and flooring, allowing sunlight to bounce around the room.

3. Get a good hood

One thing to carefully consider when cooking on a kitchen island is the type and placement of the exhaust hood. This stylish cylinder—the brainchild of interior designer Citali Villareal—will save you from smoke and steam whilst adding a decorative element to the room. The sleek, understated lines of the island serve to balance what might otherwise be an overpowering centrepiece and the decorative mural in the background provides ample inspiration to cook up a storm!

4. Spice it up!

A lot can happen in a kitchen, from cooking to dining, experimenting and socialising. Splashes of colour can transform a stark, simple space into a warm welcome, as demonstrated here by Micheas Architects, who have used touches of red to dress up stainless steel and white surfaces. 

Employed too much, red may become overwhelming, but used sporadically this vibrant tone creates a joyous and dynamic atmosphere and contrasts beautifully with the darker stovetop and seating.

5. The new black

The marriage of black and stainless steels lends an air of sophistication to this kitchen, with the surfaces, appliances and fittings imbuing an almost space age element upon the space. Details like the bright red, stove-top kettle draw us back into the present day, however, reminding inhabitants of the functional necessities any kitchen must include.

One of the most striking and stylish elements of this design is undoubtedly the inventive, yellow lighting beneath the kitchen island, highlighting the wooden floor as a contrast to man-made surfaces and adding the degree of warmth needed in a social area.

6. Home sweet home

The proximity of this kitchen to both indoors and outdoors dining areas helps to create a relaxing atmosphere, where flexibility and luxury are encouraged. Again, the use of a large walkway helps to infuse the space with natural light, highlighting the beautiful simplicity of the colour scheme and the combination of wood and stone used in the kitchen's construction. 

Innovative finishes such as granite ledges, a marble floor and wooden furniture merge to create a stylish sense of home with all the functional touches an avid entertainer could possibly wish for.

7. Keep it simple

Simple lines and smooth cabinets characterise the design of this minimalist kitchen. A clean design devoid of visual distractions, the functionality of the space is breathtaking, with sustainable elements such as 100% recycled water, adding to its appeal!

The range and quality of appliances suggest that this kitchen is truly all about food, and the subdued colour scheme provides the perfect platform to enjoy fresh produce and culinary experimentation.

8. Wise storage

If you have a larger space to play with, all the better! Placing your island in the very centre of a large kitchen gives you a wider field of action, facilitating movement and flexibility. The large island also serves as a hefty storage unit, with a number of cupboards and drawers available here to house a host of crockery, cutlery and appliances.

Also incorporated are expansive windows and doors to aid the circulation of fresh air and natural light within the space and to add colour through hints of greenery.

In this design, BR Architects plays with materials such as wooden ceiling beams to add to the rustic feeling promoted by the wooden kitchen island, and subtle splashes light to illuminate and warm the homely setting. 

9. Beautifully informal

Polished surfaces need not always be borne of glass, stone and wood. This polished concrete ledge adds a stripped back, industrial feel to the kitchen island, offsetting the sheen of the stainless steel sink and exhaust hood and infusing the space with casual charm. 

Important in this space is the selection of dining and living furniture, with the low-lying seating and dining table complimenting the laid-back theme of the abode. The bright, yellow couch adds a necessary hint of colour amidst the grey finishes. 

10. Traditional style

This is an example of how a kitchen island can still work wonders in a smaller space! The cosiness of this more rustic and traditional kitchen is aided by the inclusion of the island, which provides storage, a surface for food preparation and the opportunity for socialising. 

The combination of materials such as wood, marble and plaster alongside the patterned tiles complete the more traditional feel of this kitchen, whilst the stainless steel fridge and modern sink unit reminds visitors they're still in the 21st century. 

This beautiful combination of texture and style creates a sense of country comfort, proving that kitchen islands can be as adaptable as their owners will allow.

For more kitchen island inspiration have a look at these Multi-purpose kitchen islands and gain some more great ideas!

Which is your favourite kitchen island style from the 10 listed? Let us know, below.
Whitton Drive by GK Architects Ltd Modern

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