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7 Inspiring Kitchen Island Ideas and Design Tips

Are you considering a bespoke island? Unique kitchen island ideas are a fantastic way to add functional workspace, storage and character to a kitchen design. The kitchen island is also a great place to start if you want to add complementary colours, social seating, or even a wonderful sense of drama to your space.

What Is the Ideal Size for a Kitchen Island?

We understand one size doesn’t fit all, which is why every Tom Howley kitchen is beautifully bespoke and handcrafted exclusively for your unique space. A Tom Howley designer will assess the amount of space you have and design a kitchen island with the correct proportions for the room. If your kitchen has a big footprint, a more oversized island with seating and storage can make a real impact. Equally, smaller kitchens can benefit from an island’s extra workspace and storage solutions, freeing up wall space for a more contemporary and streamlined effect.

Dark painted Tom Howley Kitchen design.
Dark Grey Shaker Style Kitchen

Whether you go large or small, you should be able to easily walk around the island to access all the essential elements of your kitchen, such as the cooker, sink, fridge and food storage. Opting for a narrow design with shallow depth cupboards can free up floor space, and adding glass-fronted cabinets can give the illusion of more space to smaller-sized kitchen islands.

Green kitchen island ideas.
Dark Greek Shaker Kitchen Island

Design Director, Tom Howley mentioned in a recent Livingetc feature, “The importance of walkway space should be a key consideration. When designing your layout always leave a metre of walkway space either one or two sides of your worktop, island, or peninsula counter. This is a functionally and aesthetically effective dimension to keep in mind.’

Choosing Your Perfect Kitchen Island Design

Islands come in all shapes, as well as sizes. At Tom Howley, our designers will work with you to bring your bespoke kitchen island ideas to life, complementing your home’s layout, architectural integrity and style. Our shaker-inspired kitchen islands imbue the quality of traditional shaker workmanship. This enduring style has clean, symmetrical lines and a simple elegance that translates into a number of kitchen designs, from country farmhouses to modern galley kitchens.

Bespoke curved kitchen island with breakfast bar.
Modern Grey Shaker Kitchen

Islands can be curved with sweeping worktops and breakfast bars, or they can be long and narrow or solidly square, providing a social place to enjoy casual dinners or coffee with friends. The most important consideration when thinking about your kitchen island’s shape is your home’s current layout and design and how your island can be best positioned and presented in accordance with your kitchen floor plan. For example, if your kitchen has large windows or bi-fold doors that open onto the garden or frame a lovely outlook, you will want to position your island so that if you’re cooking, prepping or socialising, you can enjoy the best views.

Kitchen Islands as Storage Solutions

Kitchen islands are ideal places to store the items you use the most – or items you don’t need that often. Depending on how you use your island, it can be designed to include cupboards and drawers that will make your life that bit easier. Choose closed cabinetry to conceal kitchen essentials that you don’t want on show or open shelving on which you can display your favourite pottery, cookery books or pieces of art. Kitchen islands are great places to tuck away useful appliances such as a wine fridge or you may have space to include integrated modular bins to keep your kitchen as streamlined and organised as possible.

Tom Howley bespoke storage solutions.
Dark Classic Kitchen

Add a Sink to Your Kitchen Island

Cleaning up is made easy with a kitchen island sink. It’s an excellent solution for smaller spaces, so walls under windows can have more aesthetic uses, such as a window seat, statement radiator, shelving or anything else that you want extra room for. Having a sink on the island also means you have uninterrupted worktops elsewhere, handy if you like to use all of your surfaces when cooking dinner. 

Colours That Make a Statement

Islands have always been a kitchen’s focal point, but adding a statement paint colour can add so much more to the space. If you only use colour on your kitchen island, choose a shade that makes the room look cohesive. If you decide that your island counter will be the focal point of your kitchen, opt for a dramatic colour contrast with the rest of the cabinetry. Dark countertops look striking against bold coloured cabinetry and ice white counters work beautifully with muted sage green or mid-grey shades. Tom Howley has a range of 24 exclusive paint colours to choose from, each curated to work perfectly together.

Dark painted Tom Howley kitchen with central island.
Dark Classic Kitchen

Light Up Your Kitchen Island Ideas

Lighting schemes help to bring a kitchen to life. You can make a statement with a magnificent chandelier or a cluster of contemporary pendant lights over an island. Uplighters at floor level can add a soft, romantic vibe to your kitchen island, perfect for creating the right mood for lazy dinners in. Dimmer switches are great for setting the tone and turning up the lights when you’re prepping food or reading recipes and lowering lighting when you’re ready to eat.

How to Make Your Kitchen Island a Social Space

Our Altrincham showroom-based designer, Richard Holden, says, “kitchen islands should feel part of the entire kitchen space. Being able to position the hob and/or sink on the island, means you can be more sociable with your family or guests while preparing meals – it also frees up wall space for floor-to-ceiling style cabinetry. A breakfast bar or a curved bench and table arrangement encourage people to be social in the kitchen sitting at a formal dining table.”

Tom Howley green kitchen with pedestal table island.
Dark Green Modern Kitchen

To discover more kitchen island ideas, why not visit your nearest Tom Howley showroom?