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Kitchen Island Guide: A Comprehensive Handbook for Selection and Design

A kitchen island is undoubtedly a convenient addition to any kitchen. It not only provides an extra work surface but can also replace the need for a bar counter or dining table when paired with designer bar stools. With the right design, the kitchen island can become the heart of the house, serving as a space for breakfast and quality time with family and friends.

Kitchen Island
Kitchen Island; Image source: Pexels.com

In this article, we will explore some traditional and original ideas for decorating a kitchen island, as well as the basic principles to consider when selecting this essential element of kitchen design.

Seven Design Ideas You Might Like

The kitchen island performs various functions and typically serves as the centerpiece of the kitchen interior, enhancing its practicality and efficiency. Studies have shown that up to 70% of people planning to buy a house want a kitchen island, and for half of them, it is a must-have. Let’s explore some intriguing design options for kitchen islands that always stay in style:

Compact and Functional 

Consider a small L-shaped island that combines a bar counter and a kitchen cabinet. A large countertop on one side will allow room for legs, while shelves on the inside will provide additional storage. To maximize functionality, you can use it as a dining table, adding comfy high dining chairs. 

compact kitchen island 1
Compact kitchen island 1

Such a modern element of kitchen interior design can fit even in a small space, providing functionality and style.

Unusual Forms

Break away from the typical rectangular shape and opt for an angled or rounded kitchen island. This unique design looks fresh and gives the cooking area a more distinct look. 

angled kichen island
angled kitchen island; Image source: pexels.com

Floating Island 

For a versatile kitchen island, create a mobile version in either a modern or classic style. You can select an island on wheels or a lightweight construction with minimum shelves and drawers, allowing for easy relocation to another place in the room. Keep in mind that if you opt for a mobile island, installing a sink and built-in appliances might not be possible.

Floating island
Floating island; Image source: pexels.com

Marble & Wood 

The combination of natural wood and noble marble in a kitchen island’s design is a timeless idea. The marble countertop exudes elegance, while the wood adds warmth and coziness to the interior. Moreover, natural stone is practically impervious to water and highly durable, while treating the wood with special wax ensures reliable protection from moisture.

marbla kitchen island
marble island

Creating a Sense of Airiness

Large kitchen islands can sometimes appear bulky and overwhelming. However, there are ways to add lightness and make them visually more appealing. One effective method is to incorporate open shelves into the design. Not only do these shelves provide practical storage space, but they also add a decorative element to the island. By using these shelves as showcases, you can display indoor plants, beautiful vases, figurines, or even wine bottles, adding a touch of charm and elegance to the island’s overall look.

Unconventional Combinations

Don’t shy away from exploring unique and unexpected combinations in your kitchen design. For a contemporary twist, consider extending the kitchen island with a long antique table or creating a wooden bridge that connects the kitchen unit to the island. 

unconventional combinations
unconventional combinations; Image source: pexels.com

These creative choices not only expand the functionality of the island but also bring a sense of novelty and individuality to your kitchen space. Embracing unconventional combinations can be a delightful way to infuse your kitchen with character and personal style.

Solid Design

The use of carved wood legs in the kitchen island design not only adds a touch of natural beauty but also brings a sense of warmth and authenticity to the room. The sturdy and grounding presence of table legs creates a focal point that elevates the overall aesthetics, making the kitchen island a captivating centerpiece that enhances the entire space.

solid design kitchen island
solid design; Image source: pexels.com

The Main Principles When Designing a Kitchen Island

When contemplating the design of a kitchen island, it’s essential to address critical questions: “What will it primarily be used for?”, “How will it optimize the overall interior?” and “What are the space’s specific needs?” While each individual’s answers may differ, six fundamental principles can help determine the ideal kitchen island design.

Principle #1: Size 

A kitchen island requires ample free space. According to ergonomic guidelines, the minimum distance from the island module to other elements of the kitchen set and walls should be 100 centimeters. This ensures easy movement around the room without any obstructions.

Considering that the smallest kitchen island typically measures 120 cm x 60 cm x 85 cm, the kitchen area should be at least 20 square meters. Some designers consider 18 square meters as the minimum requirement. 

Attempting to fit an island module into a tiny room can create a visually cramped space and hinder movement. However, with thoughtful planning, a small kitchen island can still be accommodated.

Principle #2: The Comfortable Triangle 

To enhance convenience during cooking, large household appliances should be placed following the “triangle rule.” The distance from the refrigerator to the sink should be a maximum of 120-210 centimeters, while the distance from the sink to the stove should not exceed 120-180 centimeters. There should be no obstacles, such as chairs or tables, between these objects.

Integrating a kitchen island into the kitchen layout makes it easy to implement the concept of a triangle, reducing the need for excessive movement during the cooking process.

Principle #3: Every Centimetre is in Business 

Maximize the functionality of the kitchen island by optimizing the countertop and the space below it. Household appliances can be placed under the countertops, while the top can host a cooktop and a sink. 

Use open shelves or closed cabinets and drawers to store dishes and utensils. The space above the countertop can be used efficiently by incorporating a hanging shelf attached to the ceiling to hold dishes, wine glasses, and other items.

Principle #4: Technical Nuances 

If you intend to relocate the sink and cooktop to the kitchen island, be prepared to address specific technical challenges. Firstly, ensure that plumbing and electrical components are moved in accordance with safety regulations. Secondly, ensure high-quality waterproofing of the floor to prevent potential damage. Finally, sewer pipe installation needs to be done correctly, with a slope of at least 3 centimeters per meter. This may necessitate raising the kitchen floor by at least 10-15 centimeters, which could potentially require modifications in other rooms. A possible solution is installing the island on a special technical podium.

Regarding the installation of electrical appliances like the cooktop, it is advisable to seek assistance from a qualified and experienced electrician. Additionally, ensure proper ventilation by positioning a vent above the kitchen island.

Principle #5: Harmonious Design 

The style and materials of the kitchen island should be chosen carefully to ensure harmony with the overall room design in terms of color and texture. A cohesive stylistic decision will unite the kitchen island with the rest of the kitchen into a coherent space. For instance, a minimalist kitchen would benefit from an island module with a simple design featuring closed cabinets and drawers without excessive decor.

Principle #6: Convenient Location 

The placement of the kitchen island is crucial, and it can be positioned in various ways. You may choose to place the module in the center of the room, shift it to one side, or symmetrically align it with the kitchen set, all while considering the principles of ergonomics.

Pros and Cons of a Kitchen Island

A kitchen island offers numerous advantages:

  • Favourable location in the room: One of the main benefits of a kitchen island is its accessibility from all sides, enhancing the overall usability of the kitchen.
  • Additional space for kitchen appliances: The island provides extra space for utensils, glasses, dishes, etc., making it easier to organize the kitchen.
  • Countertop as a dining table replacement: A full-fledged countertop can double as a dining table, helping save space, especially in smaller kitchens. With shelves under the tabletop, it can also serve as additional storage.
  • Suitable for different kitchen sizes: Kitchen islands can be installed in both spacious and small kitchens, provided the appropriate size and shape are chosen.
  • Divider of functional areas in kitchen-dining rooms: In kitchen-dining room layouts, a kitchen island can function as a natural barrier between the living and kitchen areas, creating a well-defined space.

However, kitchen islands also come with some drawbacks:

  • Space requirement: For a fully-equipped kitchen island with a dining area and various appliances, there is a large amount of space needed, which may not be feasible in smaller rooms.
  • Need for plumbing and wiring: Incorporating a sink and appliances in the island requires additional plumbing and wiring work, which is best done during the construction or renovation. If the kitchen is already built, alternative solutions like placing the sink and dishwasher elsewhere or making a technical podium may be necessary.


A kitchen island can be a highly valuable addition to any kitchen space, offering enhanced functionality, aesthetic appeal, and opportunities for social gatherings and family activities. However, careful consideration of its design, size, and integration with the overall kitchen layout is essential to ensure its seamless integration. By adhering to the basic principles, you can confidently select the perfect kitchen island that suits your specific needs and enhances your kitchen’s overall design. However, there is always room for innovation – you can come up with that perfect kitchen island of your dreams using your imagination.

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