If there is one single feature of a home that gets the most traction, boosts the value of your property and brings people together, it’s the kitchen island bench. Atop this humble prism, food is lovingly prepared, coffees are shared and plans are made. It’s cliched but it’s 100 per cent true: the kitchen bench is the heart of the home.
Kitchen benches can be grand, petite, on a freestanding island or, in the case of many apartments, attached to a U-shaped kitchen. They can be topped with marble or another natural stone, timber, stainless steel, concrete, engineered stone, laminate… the list goes on. Underneath kitchen islands, you can incorporate cabinets, storage or shelves in myriad finishes, colours and profiles.
When it comes to designing your dream kitchen bench, there are copious combinations of surfaces and materials to choose from. It’s equal parts exciting and bamboozling. But your first step is undoubtedly collating inspirational examples of picture-perfect kitchen benches.
Ready to have your socks blown right off? Here are 10 of the best kitchen benchtop ideas to emerge from the pages of Home Beautiful.
1. A Hamptons kitchen island bench that’s the hero of the home
This spacious kitchen on Sydney’s Northern Beaches wasn’t always as free-flowing. “Before, the kitchen was in the middle of the house, with no light and flow,” says owner Lynne. “Now, as part of the open-plan design, it’s my favourite room… It gives me so much joy, with its colours, generous scale, abundant light and storage. It’s a pleasure to cook in.” Kitchen islands in close proximity to entertaining zones ensure hosts aren’t isolated when prepping food or mixing drinks.
The white of the kitchen cabinets, painted in Dulux Snowy Mountains Quarter, is balanced out by the blue island bench in Dulux Ship’s Officer. The bench is generous enough to accommodate three pendant lights.
2. Timber and concrete are a cool combo in this kitchen bench
A feast for the senses, the kitchen island bench in this Mornington Peninsula home has been crafted from glass fibre-reinforced concrete and recycled ironbark. The pendant light was made by owner John. “The kitchen has been designed to be highly functional but with very clean, simple lines,” says owner Liz.
3. This kitchen island benchtop was inspired by the French provincial aesthetic
Relocated during the home’s renovation, this French provincial-style kitchen now enjoys sunny north-eastern light. At its heart is, of course, a stellar island bench topped by marble, which was a non-negotiable on the owner’s wish list.
Interior designer Danielle Bonello-Dunsford, of Danielle Victoria Design Studio selected Calacatta Oro, while the benchtops are Caesarstone Organic White. The ‘Palladium’ pendants in Antique Brass are from Emac & Lawton and the Temple & Webster ‘Panagiota’ stools offer a comfy spot to perch.
4. An Art Deco home boasts a boundary-pushing kitchen island
After many years of living in this Melbourne Art Deco house, the owners transformed this space into a U-shaped kitchen with a curved island bench that ticks all the design boxes. The kitchen benchtop, designed by GIA Renovations, is Quantum Quartz ‘Statuario Quartz’ and the feature column is finished in matte finger tiles from Urban Edge Ceramics.
5. Size doesn’t matter in this beachy white and timber kitchen
The owners of this coastal cottage feel like they’re on holiday every day, and central to that vibe is a compact kitchen with a modest island bench. However it provides everything Matthew, an architect, and Emma need. “It’s not the biggest kitchen ever,” remarks Matthew, “but it’s proportional to the rest of the house.”
The magical view from the kitchen benchtop and light-filled space is enhanced by an array of Velux skylights and doors that slide away on the outside. “I love how open it is,” says Emma. “I can prepare food but still be connected to the festivities outside.”
6. A kitchen island bench with dining extension and window seat to boot
This island bench doubles as a dining table, and with a characterful bay window seat, there are plenty of seating options in this spectacular kitchen by interior designer Leanne Smeallie of Ampersand Interiors. The kitchen benchtop is grey Atlantic Stone from SNB Stone and is complemented beautifully by joinery painted in Dulux Hat Stand. A modern Anna Charlesworth 4-Bowl Circle pendant light references traditional chandeliers.
7. This white kitchen is warmed up with marble and timber benchtops
When interior designer Melissa Balzan first walked through this Melbourne home – built in the late 1980s – it was a bit dark and dated. Granite kitchen benchtops were replaced with generous slabs of Statuarietto marble, from Gladstones Granite & Marble, as well as a built-in timber dining table. Shaker-style 2-pac cabinetry in Dulux Natural White keeps things light, bright and timeless.
Completing the picture is a shapely Laal ‘Conehome Mega Arch’ pendant light and Mattiazzi ‘Leva’ chairs from District.
8. A show-stopping green marble kitchen island bench
In this romantic cottage, one of the owners’ favourite features is, unsurprisingly, the kitchen island bench. Ice Green marble from Signorino spills over a waterfall edge while kitchen joinery, painted in creamy Dulux Buff It, provides loads of storage. The other kitchen benchtops are finished in Carrara marble.
9. Open shelving makes this Scandi-style kitchen island sing
Functionality meets form in this renovated white kitchen, which adjoins the dining area and enjoys views of the garden and deck. “It’s lovely getting all that natural light while you are cooking away, and still feel like you are being included with what’s going on outside,” says owner Britt.
The kitchen island is topped in Quantum Quartz ‘Michelangelo’, with under-bench shelves in Laminex ‘Classic Oak’ offering a niche for crockery, cookbooks or decor. Stools from JD Lee Furniture round off a top breakfast spot.
10. A kitchen island bench awash with timber and stone
In this kitchen, Polytec cabinetry in Sepia Oak is paired with Arabescato marble from WK Stone to create drama and warmth. “I’ve always loved marble,” says owner Melanie, of her beloved kitchen island. It’s here that she enjoys arranging, “big, colourful platters” when entertaining.
The rangehood is encased in the same marble that graces the benchtops, transforming a kitchen essential into a statement. “It’s like a piece of art for me,” says Melanie, who names it as one of her home’s favourite features.