These country kitchen island ideas will give you extra storage and countertop space. Adding a country kitchen island enables you to create dedicated zones, too, providing an informal divide between the kitchen and adjacent living areas while still keeping the cook space involved in the social activity.
Indeed, a central kitchen island can serve a multitude of purposes – from being a preparation station to housing sinks, cookers and appliances – transforming the way in which you use your country kitchen. Extending the countertop and adding bar seating even provide a dining space that's perfect for quick breakfasts or entertaining.
‘Larger, fitted islands can be multi-functional, incorporating appliances, breakfast bars and many other elements. In smaller kitchens, a peninsula can often be a better alternative to a central island. This layout is less space hungry, but still has the same capacity for storage and multi-tasking,’ advises Richard Moore, design director at Martin Moore (opens in new tab).
Country kitchen island ideas
While the country kitchen island as we know it is new, the concept of a versatile surface in the heart of the kitchen is not. In Medieval European kitchens, a large wooden table dominated the room. Much bigger than the modern dining table, it was a workhorse that served as a place for everything from food preparation to dining.
Today's modern country kitchen island designs take inspiration from this tradition, incorporating a large table into the heart of the kitchen, while others are more aligned with cabinetry. Regardless of the style you choose, a country kitchen island may be the starting point for your kitchen layout, so that it efficiently bridges the gap between cooking and living. Here, we bring you the best ideas.
1. Invoke country style with an island with open storage
Kitchen islands come in all shapes and sizes, but for country kitchen island ideas, you can’t go wrong with the traditional table style, complete with open storage and produce drawers.
‘This Chester Dove Grey kitchen island takes inspiration from painted farmhouse aesthetics to give a timeless versatility. Contrasting a gentle grey palette with wooden features combines classic and contemporary themes, perfect for a more country home,’ explains Paul Deckland, buying director at Cotswold Company (opens in new tab).
2. Use your island to create a colorful kitchen
Play with color to give the classic country look a modern update. While there are plenty of colors that are good for a country kitchen, don't feel shackled to these – you can opt for more vibrant or interesting kitchen color ideas to give your space a unique edge.
‘An English country kitchen can be achieved through the use of plenty of natural materials and textures, such as stone floors and tongue and groove paneling. However, that’s not to say that the scheme should be plain. Playing with pops of color can lift the interior, bringing a fun and more contemporary touch to the space. Why not experiment with painting the kitchen island a different color to the cabinets, or even painting the bar stools in an eye-catching and vibrant shade,’ advises Louise Wicksteed, design director at Sims Hilditch (opens in new tab).
3. Opt for a spacious island with seating
When designing a kitchen island, size is essential.
'Arguably the biggest failure we see in kitchen design is people trying to cram too much into one space. For those wanting counter seating, your island ideally needs to be 1 meter wide as an overhang of 400mm is needed for comfortable legroom. An island narrower than 900mm is going to feel undersized, but if this is all the space available you could consider creating an overhang on one end of the island to tuck counter stools beneath. If you'd like a stone countertop, such as marble, do bear in mind that three meters is generally the largest length for a single piece of stone. Alternative materials, such as concrete or terrazzo, would be a way to avoid having joints in the stone,' explains Reuben Ward, lead designer at Blakes London (opens in new tab).
4. Pair an island with built it cabinetry
When designing your small kitchen layout, compromise is inevitable. However, an island can offer the perfect solution. In this small kitchen, the island provides valuable prep-space and a home for the sink, meaning that the opposite wall can be occupied by full-height cabinetry to maximize storage.
5. Opt for shaker-style for timeless charm
In a country kitchen, cabinetry must be timeless and elegant. ‘Shaker kitchen ideas are incredibly versatile, and the style can therefore take on many different designs and work well with different time period homes. This style of kitchen suits country homes incredibly well as it brings in a traditional look that can be easily made modern to suit the personal style of the owner. Essentially you can take a Shaker kitchen and change the dimensions of the doors and lines to suit different styles,’ says William Durrant, owner of Herringbone Kitchens (opens in new tab).
6. Create a social hub in the heart of the kitchen
One of the largest draws to country kitchen islands are the social space that they create. When paired with a recessed section and bar-style kitchen island seating, they create an informal dining space that connects the functional kitchen with the rest of the room.
'It's no secret everyone wants to be in the kitchen – make sure to create ample seating for your crowd. When selecting a countertop, remember to account for overhang depth so your stools fit underneath,' advises Cortney Bishop principal designer and owner of Cortney Bishop Design (opens in new tab).
Approximately 15 inches of kitchen countertop overhang will be sufficient to accommodate most styles of bar-seating.
'When creating island seating, I also purposely extend the side panels along the countertop's full width,' continues Cortney. 'This design allows the island to appear more like a piece of furniture while casually tucking the stools away from traffic flow.'
7. Consider size and shape of a country kitchen island
This elegant design from Interior Impressions (opens in new tab) strikes a perfect balance offering a practical cooking space, complete with sink, as well as a spacious breakfast bar for family and friends to take a seat.
8. Make the most of country views
As our kitchens are redesigned and rebuilt, we find ourselves prioritizing ways to increase natural light and space in equal measure. As such, glazed doors have quickly become a favorite feature, flooding the space with light while also providing seamless access to the garden.
When incorporated into country kitchen diners, particularly those that boast beautiful views of the countryside, doors can also define your entire kitchen's design. By positioning your country kitchen island in front of them, an ever-changing view while cooking will be on offer, while your cooking and entertaining space will be nice and bright.
Designed and crafted by Bert & May (opens in new tab), this kitchen has cabinetry crafted from sustainable wood and solid oak dovetailed drawers topped while the country-style island is topped with a raw copper worktop that helps to reflect light in to the room.
9. Opt for a farmhouse table style country kitchen island
Country kitchen island ideas don't have to reflect your cabinetry. Instead, consider upgrading an antique farmhouse table with a stone countertop which can help to imbue your kitchen with a softer, country-inspired look, perfect for complementing other traditional kitchen ideas. If you don't want to use an actual table, other farmhouse kitchen island ideas include cabinetry inspired by workbenches and butcher's blocks, but with the style and functionality of a modern kitchen.
'To help tone down the utilitarian feel of the room I like to add antiques, art, soft furnishings and decorative items,' explains Henriette von Stockhausen, designer at VSP Interiors (opens in new tab). 'Adding an island to the space helps with this, instantly becoming a relaxed place where someone can sit with a glass of wine and chat while the host is cooking, to prepare food, and a place to display some beautiful pots, flowers – a centerpiece of your kitchen.'
10. Incorporate a small country kitchen island in a compact space
Country kitchen islands are not just the preserve of expansive open plan spaces as even small kitchen ideas can benefit from the additional preparation space that country kitchen island ideas bring.
The key is to prioritize and streamline. First decide whether you want your country kitchen island to provide preparation space or a social, sitting area. This will help you to define the intention of your design. Secondly, ensure that no space is wasted. This country island, designed by Oakley Moore (opens in new tab), prioritizes preparation space, while also incorporating open shelving on the end of the island and cabinetry on the reverse.
'Help your small kitchen island ideas stand out by using a different color to the rest of the cabinetry. Here we used a warm yellow from Benjamin Moore to work with the Fired Earth tiled backsplash whilst the rest of the space is very neutral. This is a great way to inject a little color in a neutral space,’ says Kate Aslangul, founder of Oakley Moore.
11. Opt for a classic island design to complete a country-style kitchen
Classic designs are timeless for a reason, and so is the case with the quintessential country kitchen island. Channel Shaker kitchen ideas in your island design for a timeless piece that will complement any era of home. In this kitchen designed by Olive & Barr (opens in new tab) the tongue and grove panelling on the wall is reflected in the base of the island, while wooden countertops bring a natural edge to the scheme.
'Built-in chopping boards, oak slat shelves and easy-access drawers help to free up counter space, they also add characterful charm to the modern kitchen,' says Al Bruce, founder at Olive & Barr. 'It is important to incorporate storage solutions that utilize every inch of space too. Practical storage results in an organized and stress-free kitchen, even under the sink can be rescued from clutter with a pull out drawer and fixed shelves.'
12. Add a sink to your island to create a multifunctional space
A multifunctional country kitchen island can transform the way in which you use your kitchen and so is the case for country kitchen island ideas. This design by Styleberry Interiors (opens in new tab) combines the best of both worlds by pairing a wooden countertop, ideal for food preparation, with a sleek marble countertop that adds practical elegance to the space. An excellently positioned sink divides the two areas offering the ideal counterpoint to the stove opposite. Together these four features create the perfect format to aid seamless cooking.
‘There is something about having a counter to lean on, set drinks or plates on, and be able to move freely around, that facilitates interaction. How many times have you been to a gathering and spent a significant amount of time in the kitchen chatting in this very spot? Add a place to sit, and I’d put money on someone having a cup of coffee and wanting to stay awhile,’ says Shawna Percival, founder of Styleberry Interiors.
13. Use different materials to serve different purposes
When you think of country kitchen island ideas, the first image that comes to mind will be a large rectangular block of solid cabinetry. However, this does not need to be the case, consider playing with textures and shapes to create a space that reflects your own needs and sense of design. This clever country kitchen island physically separates the preparation and entertaining spaces by elevating the latter. Not only does this offer a welcoming space for people to come and sit but also keeps the preparation area hidden from view, helping to maintain a minimalist aesthetic.
'Ensure country kitchen islands work as both a cooking and entertaining space by changing work surface materials to suit each area specifically. Opt for a softened textured wood for the entertaining area, while granites, zinc or stainless steel are ideal surfaces for cooking areas,' advises Alex Main, director at The Main Company (opens in new tab). 'Create an L-shape seating area to ensure stools are not in one long line in order to aid conversation, too.'
14. Work in lighting to make the most of your country kitchen island
Your country kitchen island will serve as a space to cook, relax and entertain and as such it will need versatile lighting. A series of statement pendants will not only provide useful task lighting but also emphasize the island as the heart of the room. These antique French lights, from Kate Beard Lighting (opens in new tab), make the perfect kitchen island lighting ideas for this elegant Martin Moore (opens in new tab) kitchen.
When considering pendant lights, it is also important to think about the cord. ‘No longer just a practical necessity, the cord is now a design essential that forms part of your lighting aesthetic,’ says Emily Butterill, founder of Glow Lighting (opens in new tab).
Consider color, material and the amount of cord you want on display. ‘Over a dining table, pendants were historically mounted lower, but these days it is more about how formal a space you want to create. As a general rule, pendant lighting fixtures should be 29 to 35 inches above your table or island or 1.8m off the floor,’ continues Emily.
15. Think: alternatives to country kitchen islands
Not every kitchen suits a kitchen island. In some vintage kitchen ideas, such as this characterful space, an island would feel dominating and disguise the beautifully crafted wooden cabinetry and flooring. However, there are alternatives that bring some of the benefits of an island without compromising the overall character of the space.
‘Sometimes an island can look too fitted and detract from the character and period feel of a kitchen. It might be that a freestanding table or a small moveable country kitchen island provides the extra storage and work surface required whilst being a little more sympathetic to the feel and proportions of the room.’ says Howard Stubbs, founder of Heaven & Stubbs (opens in new tab).
16. Use your country kitchen island to play with color
Color plays a huge role in design, and the kitchen is no different. Adding an island gives you the opportunity to be more creative with your scheme.
’The trend for darker and bold colors in the kitchen is continuing but starting to branch out from just the dark blues to include more greens and even deep reds. The bold feeling is following through in countertop and backsplash choices, with more and more people opting for heavy veined marble-looking countertops, as opposed to the more discreet looks we have seen in the past,’ explains Charlotte Campbell, kitchen designer at Harvey Jones (opens in new tab). ‘
'Texture is also becoming a more understood and used element to kitchen design, with countertops, backsplashes, and handle finishes moving away from the high polished, to now include honed and satin finishes. As well as reeded glass creating a more layered aesthetic.’
17. Use country kitchen island ideas to create zones
Zoning is essential in open-plan kitchen/living spaces, creating a separation between cooking, dining and living areas. In a country kitchen, an island can help you to achieve this curated space.
‘Deploy different colors for islands, wall cabinets, or under-seat storage to give definition while ensuring the overall look is cohesive and open-plan,’ advises Mike Turley, technical manager at Mereway Kitchens (opens in new tab). ‘Another zoning device is to use lighting to highlight different areas, ambient lighting for dining areas, accent lighting for feature areas and task lighting for meal preparation.’
How do I build storage into a country kitchen island?
There are many clever ways in which you can integrate storage into your country kitchen island design. From the conventional drawers and cupboards, to the more creative options, such as double, in-drawer dishwashers, both on the cooking side of the island, to shallower storage spaces for china and cutlery, recipe books and wine glasses on the dining side. Bear in mind that drawers will be more accessible than cabinets – deep and wide for cookware and china, shallow and narrow for spice storage. Consider adding a minimalist space to store and display glass jars or if you have a four-legged friend, think about whether your island could also incorporate their bed, keeping it out of the way and giving them a safe space to relax.
How long should a country kitchen island be to seat 6?
As a general rule of thumb to choose the right size kitchen island, you should factor around 30 inches (2.5 ft) per chair. Therefore, if you want to accommodate six seats around your kitchen island, it will need to be 15ft long. Equally, if you want an island that only has two seats, it will need to be 5ft long.
Having graduated with a first class degree in English Literature, Holly started her career as a features writer and sub-editor at Period Living magazine, Homes & Gardens' sister title. Working on Period Living brought with it insight into the complexities of owning and caring for period homes, from interior decorating through to choosing the right windows and the challenges of extending. This has led to a passion for traditional interiors, particularly the country-look. Writing for the Homes & Gardens website as a content editor, alongside regular features for Period Living and Country Homes & Interiors magazines, has enabled her to broaden her writing to incorporate her interests in gardening, wildlife and nature.
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