Modern kitchen island ideas – workstations and peninsulas for cooking and entertaining

With the kitchen now one of the biggest – and busiest – rooms in the house, an island is one of the best ways to boost functionality in this hard-working space

Our modern kitchen island ideas cover rooms of every size, and may make you think differently about how you work your design.

For starters, an island can put extra storage and prep just where you need it. With the trend for much of the kitchen to disappear behind tall pantry-style doors, a long island can become the main workstation, housing sink and hob, too.

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And while the double galley kitchen, with its two parallel rows of work space, is still the most ergonomic kitchen layout, an island can help create this set up in an open plan room. It will be a more sociable space than an enclosed kitchen and the island will help mark out the boundary between work zone and social area. Importantly, keeping guests and children from under your feet.

Finally, as a stand-alone feature, the island is just screaming out for some special treatment. A rich veneer, burnished metal or a pop of unexpected colour will seal its place as the focal point of a modern kitchen design.

MODERN KITCHEN ISLAND IDEAS

1. THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX

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(Image credit: DeVol)

With so much of the kitchen constantly on show, the ‘furniture aesthetic’ is really taking hold. The look is less boxy with floating islands, cabinetry that looks like furniture and islands which mimic freestanding tables. The Haberdasher’s kitchen by DeVOL is based on vintage shop fittings. It works around drawer storage, display and soft shapes that recall the haberdasher’s counter.

Enquire online: DeVOL, Haberdasher’s kitchens start from £30,000

2. TAKE IT TO THE BAR

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(Image credit: Charles York)

Add seating and good lighting and an island becomes a sociable space that works for family breakfast through the working day and all the way into evening entertaining. The trend for dark woods and heavily-veined stone has a super-luxe feel that shines with good lighting. Flexibility is key: choose a layered lighting scheme with ultimate controllability, making it easy to switch from task to mood lighting at the press of a button.

Enquire online:Charles Yorke, kitchens start from £30,000

3. CREATE A WARM WELCOME

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(Image credit: Eggersmann)

Good interior schemes are built on layers of colour, texture and tone and a contemporary kitchen should be no different. Consider the overall balance and how design features can guide the eye and the flow of the space. The stand-out feature on this striking island of Bianco Nuvola Quartzite is a brushed solid brass dining zone.

Enquire online:Eggersmann, kitchens start from £40,000

4. ADOPT THE RIGHT ANGLE

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(Image credit: Onesta)

A perpendicular island in a stand-out tone puts all eyes on the cook in this design by Onestà. The generous ‘floating’ hob station claims the best view of the garden but, more importantly, allows the cook to interact with guests. Early planning is essential for power and services to an island – it can be expensive to retrofit and not always possible. Don’t forget discreet extraction for hobs and factor in power points and charging stations for tech and kitchen gadgets too.

Enquire online: Onestà, kitchens start from £40,000

5. DOUBLE UP

Two islands connected by a linear bar-style seating creates a popular U-shaped layout, providing an enclosed cooking area big enough for two cooks. ‘As a general rule, allow for 1m clearance space on all sides of an island to enable safe movement and clearance for opening drawers, cupboards and appliances,’ advises Fabiana Scavolini, CEO Scavolini.

‘You do need to reach the centre of island too,’ adds Matt Baker, Kitchen Designer at Harvey Jones. ‘Aim for a maximum width of 1400mm.’

Enquire online:Schmidt, kitchens start from £10,000

6. GO LOW

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(Image credit: Day True)

Bar-stool seating is not for everyone or for all occasions so a low-level table attached to the island ensures comfort; it also keeps diners away from the heat and steam of an island hob. The cantilevered table in this design is given a little extra support from a glass panel, maintaining it’s sense of lightness and still providing plenty of leg room.

Enquire online: Day True, kitchens start from £25,000

7. PURE SIMPLICITY

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(Image credit: DesignSpaceLondon)

An island can house a multitude of kitchen workings, helping the overall kitchen scheme look sleek and contained. Contemporary kitchens like to hide away as much as possible with internal drawers and storage systems for great organization that disappears behind doors when the cooking is done. A bespoke design will get the most from tricky spaces and provide stylish details such as the console-style seating area here.

Enquire online: DesignSpaceLondon, kitchens start from £25,000

8. ALL AROUND

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(Image credit: Life Kitchens)

An island attached to cabinetry at one end is referred to as a peninsula and it usually creates a U-shaped kitchen that neatly contains the cooking area. This set up provides plenty of work surface and the most flexibility over where to place sink and hob. ‘Quartz and granite used in their entirety work well to give a seamless finish as worktops,’ explains Graeme Smith, Head of Retail and Commercial Design at Life Kitchens.

‘Larger islands may require a joint which creates an opportunity to introduce a complementary material, colour or thickness. Something as simple as adding a chopping block can disguise a join and help divide an island into zones.’

Enquire online:Life Kitchens, kitchens start from £25,000

9. TRY BRAVER SHADES

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(Image credit: Martin Moore)

An island is a separate piece of furniture, so let it have its own identity. Often, with modern kitchen island ideas, there is a temptation cling to the safety of neutrals for a big investment. But just a small splash of a bright colour or stand-out finish can enliven the whole scheme. The colour of this island was picked out from a favourite painting that hangs in the room and which was also replicated as a striking glass splashback.

Enquire online: Martin Moore, kitchens start from £35,000

10. SHINE ON

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(Image credit: Sola)

Brushed brass and metals with hint of patination look stunning on an island. As a social-facing feature, it is worth the extra expense and, away from workings of the kitchen, it won’t suffer too much from knocks and splashes.

Warm-toned metals are the materials of the moment, choosing sinks, taps and handles to match.

Enquire online: Sola Kitchens, kitchens start from £35,000

IS A KITCHEN ISLAND A GOOD IDEA?

Even in a compact kitchen, an island is a fantastic way to maximise space as you can make it as multifunctional as possible by incorporating integrated appliances and smart storage solutions,’ says Darren Watts, Showroom Development and Design Director at Wren Kitchens.

‘We’re all spending more time at home these days, with the kitchen at the heart of the home social life. It’s important to consider the comfort of the cook. Integrating cooking appliances into the island puts them at the centre of the action – even better if there is space for bar-style seating too so guests can socialise while the food is prepared,' addsDaniel Bowler, Director of Eggersmann UK.

HOW MUCH DOES IT COST TO ADD A KITCHEN ISLAND?

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(Image credit: Davide Lovati)

An island is best considered as part of the overall scheme and should certainly be planned at the start of a project if it requires power and services. If you are looking to add one, be inventive.

An old science lab bench or haberdasher counter will add instant character, while a bespoke kitchen company or carpenter can create something tailored to the space that complements the surrounding cabinetry and layout. Expect it to be an investment piece costing upwards of £1000 including fitting.

WHAT COLOR ISLANDS ARE ON TREND FOR 2021?

Blue and green continue to be popular colour choices for the kitchen but finish shines through too. Modern kitchen island ideas offer a great opportunity to add something really luxe, such as a rich wood, unusual texture, burnished brass or heavily-veined stone. With the benefit that you’ll be using smaller, affordable amounts, and these more delicate materials will be away from heat and steam.