Luxuriating on Kitchen Islands

By Rebecca Thienes Cherny | Updated Oct 13, 2012 10:38 AM

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A chic kitchen by Jessica Helgerson Interior Design showcases a large multi-functional island.

Cursed with a galley kitchen like most apartment dwellers, I dream of the day I’ll upgrade to a space big enough for a luxurious kitchen island. First popular in the mid-twentieth century during the Modern movement, these freestanding dividers often separate grand open-plan spaces that include dining and living areas.

The key to good island design is first considering the best possible use. Make a list of all the functions you’d like the island to perform. Storage is a top need for homeowners, making cabinets on at least part of the island a capital idea. Adding utilitarian details like recessed bookcases for holding favorite cookbooks and linens close at hand should also be explored.

Slideshow: 12 Outstanding Kitchen Island Storage Options


Multi-level kitchen island from Country Living House of the Year.

Island countertop materials vary greatly from butcher block, granite, quartz composite, laminate and marble to other solid surface materials. Countertop heights can also vary from the standard 36” high up to a 42” height that allows bar stools to slip underneath.

Islands designed from scratch offer the opportunity to hide away electronics like microwaves and mixers. Consider having an electrician add an outlet inside the cabinet or on the side of the island for ease of use.

Islands can also house sinks and faucets of the kitchen or bar variety, but you’ll need to consult a plumber and/or contractor for this application, especially if the plumbing lines don’t already exist in that location. Exposed plumbing can be a statement in a French Country or Industrial-style kitchen, but most often it’s best hidden in a concealed cabinet.

Most importantly for today’s overbooked homeowner, islands can offer a place for friends and family to sit and converse with the cook during meal prep, or even a well-lit and comfortable spot for kids’ homework and art projects. It’s a place to gather ’round and connect with family over food and drink.

We’ve compiled a selection of great kitchen island designs to demonstrate ideas of size, function, and materials—browse 12 Outstanding Kitchen Island Options now.

For more on kitchen remodeling, consider:

Budget Kitchen Remodeling
Kitchen Countertops 101
Planning Guide: Kitchen Remodeling