If you’re planning to turn a tired kitchen into a stylish, functional space, making room for a kitchen island is almost non-negotiable. A kitchen island is more than just additional prep space, it can become a casual dining and homework zone, a place you can perch on a stool and chat over coffee and cake and a place where you can cook and create without losing connection to your family or dinner guests. A well-designed kitchen island can also add value to your home!
When designing a kitchen island, it’s important to think about how you’ll use it on a day-to-day basis.
3 kitchen island design tips:
- Keep seating localised in one area, so everyone can have access to the island without getting in the way.
- When entertaining, set up plates and cutlery at one end and food at the other to create an instant self-serve buffet, perfect for feeding a crowd.
- Maximise storage on all sides. Drawers on the kitchen side and open shelving where it faces the living room to display objects and cookbooks.
Here are 20 homes with glorious kitchen islands that elevate the entire room to new heights, without compromising on functionality.
Hamptons style kitchen islands
1. All white Hamptons kitchen island
Bespoke joinery makes this kitchen island an absolute winner. The owners selected the shade ‘Alabaster’ by Resene to create a clean, white space that will always look current. A trio of pendant lights from Emac & Lawton add texture and overhead task lighting. On the other side of the island, four wicker cafe bar stools (not pictured) add a touch of warmth.
2. Tonal grey Hamptons island
Grey is a versatile shade that can bring depth and interest to a predominantly white kitchen. Here, the kitchen island has been painted in a soft shade of grey which both echoes the veins in the Carrara Bianco marble splashback tiles and allows the all-white accessories to pop. To allow the ‘Goodman’ pendant lights from The Montauk Lighting Co. to be the hero, kitchen hardware on the upper cabinets has been kept to a minimum.
3. Entertainer’s extra-large Hamptons island
Interior designer Delilah is also a keen entertainer, so not only is her Hamptons style kitchen extremely beautiful to look at, it’s highly functional too. The extra-large central island features bespoke joinery and is topped with marble from CDK Stone. A pair of elegant ‘Darlana’ lanterns from Visual Comfort brings tie in the stainless steel elements including a Sub Zero fridge and a La Cornue oven.
4. Island that maximises space for food preparation
When it comes to kitchen islands, there are roughly two design camps: those that believe an island should be packed with as much functionality as possible (i.e. fitted with a sink or even a stove) and those who believe it should be left as a complete, uncut slab that maximises space for food preparation and casual dining. In this kitchen, the island’s Caesarstone bench in ‘Frosty carrina’ is entirely unadulterated, paired with shaker cabinets in Dulux Natural White and enamel T-pull handles.
5. Minimalist Hamptons kitchen island
Hamptons style and minimalism rarely go hand-in-hand, but this kitchen somehow marries the two brilliantly. A dual-tone colour palette emphasises the veining in the natural stone from SNB Stone. The central island is painted in Dulux Domino, which has the effect of grounding the otherwise fresh, white kitchen.
6. Hamptons island with natural stone benchtop
Interior designer Melinda Hartwright selected natural Carrara marble for her kitchen benchtops, but says the material is “hard to maintain. I’d probably use engineered stone next time.” Despite its undeniable beauty, marble is prone to stains and scratches and demands special care when cleaning. Here, the Hamptons style island has been kept simple with all attention being drawn towards the ‘Majorca sky blue gloss’ tiles from Teranova Tiles surrounded by cabinetry in Dulux Vivid White.
7. Hamptons meets farmhouse kitchen island
Before renovations, this kitchen felt small and poky. Opening up the ceiling, custom cabinetry by The Kitchen Maker and applying a neutral, natural colour palette have made it feel spacious and luxurious. The generous kitchen island is now a central feature of the home, painted in a deep shade of warm grey.
8. Hamptons style kitchen island with a French provincial twist
The Sydney home of Dusty Luxe founder Jackie combines her love of French provincial style with a timeless Hamptons aesthetic. The kitchen is no exception, with a simple, square island bench topped with marble. The clean white cabinetry is an ideal backdrop to the statement pieces in the room such as the ‘Petal’ pendant from Urban Lighting, traditional range hood cover and Bianca Carrara ‘Cabochon’ floor tiles.
Coastal style kitchen islands
9. Coastal style peninsula island
During renovations of this Gold Coast apartment, walls that once encased this u-shaped apartment kitchen were removed, giving the peninsula island a newfound prominence. Extending the benchtop with brackets and adding a trio of comfy bar stools means the space can now be used as a breakfast bar. VJ panelling and a fresh coat of white paint add to the relaxed, coastal vibe.
10. Coastal Hamptons style kitchen island
“We basically live in the kitchen,” says the owner of this refreshed 1920s family home. The large marble island bench is perfect for cooking, family life and entertaining. While the kitchen’s bones are quintessentially Hamptons, four Thonet bar stools imbue the kitchen with an airy, coastal atmosphere.
11. Coastal meets country kitchen island
A timeless colour palette of Dulux Natural White and polished concrete floors allow the timber central island in this coastal-meets-country kitchen to shine. Skylights overhead mean the island is always well-illuminated during the day, while at night, shadows cast by statement basket pendant lights create drama.
12. Simple coastal styling
Simple, earthy accessories imbue this clean, white kitchen in a Gold Coast home with a seaside resort quality. ‘Scandinavian’ bar stools from Replica Furniture and brushed brass tapware from ABI interiors add warmth to the central island, which is painted in the Dulux Lexicon Quarter.
Modern kitchen island benches
13. Glamorous modern farmhouse island
An island topped with Super White Quartzite adds a touch of glam to this modern farmhouse kitchen in a newly built home in the Gold Coast hinterland. With seating for up to six, the island allows the cook to mingle and meal prep during gatherings. “This is a great home for entertaining,” says owner Leanne.
14. Modern family-friendly kitchen island
This modern, open-plan kitchen was designed for a family of seven in mind. The central island, dubbed ‘snack central’ is the heart of the space, with enough bar stools for the entire family. Because the island needed to withstand plenty of wear and tear, the owners opted for Smartstone Statuario Venato rather than natural marble. “It looks like the real thing, but I don’t have to worry about staining from beetroot or wine,” says homeowner Victoria.
Double kitchen island benches
15. Hamptons kitchen with double islands
What’s more luxurious than a kitchen island bench? Two of them! This kitchen is an entertainer’s paradise, with two Hamptons style islands painted in Benjamin Moore Hale Navy. Each island is topped with Laminam Arabescato porcelain slabs from Embassy Stone. “There’s space for everyone to get involved in Christmas lunch preparations,” says homeowner Kirsty.
16. Modern farmhouse kitchen with two islands
In this home – which belongs to a pair of keen cooks with an extended family that also loves to cook – double islands are not just a luxury, but a necessity. “We can have my mum, my sister, my husband and myself, all in the kitchen, all doing different things and no-one’s getting in anyone’s way,” says Louise. The central island was handmade in oak by Reid Brothers, while the second island, which also doubles as a casual dining space, is topped with Super White Dolomite marble.
Curved kitchen islands
17. Curved marble kitchen island
It took three months to build this crescent-shaped island for a newly built home on the Gold Coast. “It took eight men to carry in the benchtop,” says interior designer and stylist Dominee. It is clad with Super White Dolomite marble tiles, while the benchtop is a CDK Stone benchtop with integrated sinks. Designing the kitchen may have been a massive undertaking, but the end result speaks for itself. “People will walk around the island and run their hand around it. It’s one of those things that they just want to touch,” says Dominee.
18. Mid-century inspired kitchen island bench
Curves are subtly repeated throughout this restored heritage home in Sydney, all the way from the arched entrance hallway to the rounded kitchen island bench. The island bench is filled with so much detail that styling it without overwhelming it became the real challenge. In the end, lighting was kept simple and bar stools low key.
19. Curved coastal kitchen bench
The original kitchen in this coastal home needed a complete overhaul. So, after reconfiguring the floor plan and adding an upper-level extension, the kitchen was transformed into a space fit for a family of five. On one end of the island bench is a butler’s pantry, and on the other, a powder room. The island is clad in kit kat tiles from Tile Cloud, one of owner Megan’s favourite design features.
20. Sleek curved kitchen centrepiece
Couple Kellie and Scott visited their home frequently during renovations, and one decision they made after seeing their design in the flesh was to upsize the kitchen island. “Often it’s not quite until you’re physically in the space that you get a true sense of the size,” says Kellie. The island is clad in two-pac timber and topped with a blend of Hebel and micro-cement render.