10 Bonkers-Gorgeous Kitchen Island Ideas You Haven’t Seen Before

Some folks call the couch the heart of the home. But as anyone who’s ever cooked dinner whilst simultaneously meal prepping and helping the kids with homework can’s most definitely the kitchen island. Doesn’t this hardworking hub deserve to be fab as well as functional? We polled a few of our favorite designers for their most innovative ideas. 

Not Your Granny's Avocado Green Kitchens Are Making A Comeback

Opt For An Unconventional Shape

Wacky floor plan? Spatially challenged? Simply have the design bug? Consider working with your contractor on a custom island with a curvy footprint—like this lima bean-shaped number by Anne Hepfer. (Bonus points if you can finagle a baller skylight above.) 

Add Sculptural Lighting

PSA: Overhead pendants aren’t your only island highlighting option. We’re low-key obsessed with Hepfer’s use of these gooseneck, island-mount lamps.

Create An Open Shelving Dining Table

Counter space meets dining table meets chic open shelving in this island hybrid by Grisoro Designs. The best part about this setup (aside from the gorgeousness)? It’s considerably less expensive than actual cabinetry.

Splurge On A Waterfall Countertop

It doesn’t get sleeker than a waterfall edge—aka an island where the countertop extends vertically down the sides. This kitchen by Studio Gild takes things one step further by tying in the backsplash as well (psst: Quartzite, above, is a particularly waterfall-friendly material.) 

Carve Out Open Shelving Accents

Bright idea: Use the overlooked space at the ends of your island for a design moment. Marie Flanigan suggests displaying items you use daily (like coffee mugs and cereal bowls) in addition to personal mementos, like family cookbooks and framed photos.

Or Add An Asymmetrical Cutout

Think outside the box, guys—literally. In this refined kitchen, Flanigan chose to showcase the modern blend of materials and textures by hacking out a sculptural open ledge. Swoon. 


Opt For Table-height

In this imaginative Christie Leu kitchen, an L-shaped island cum room divider with a dining-height profile makes the space feel even larger. And is that a second sink we see? With a setup this ideal, we might have to take up ikebana.

Spring For Two Islands

OK, so you need a palatial floor plan to make this work. But for large kitchens, designer Courtney Thomas always opts for two modest-sized islands as opposed to one deeper one, in order to cut down on dead, unused space in the middle of the room. 

Add Pull-out Storage Drawers

The eat-in breakfast bar is sneakily a storage station in this Glamour Nest kitchen, which also seriously has us considering colored counter stools. Chic, chic, chic.

Build In A Banquette

Gosh, we love a good island banquette. And this creamy, extra large, L-shaped rendition by Jean Liu might be our favorite ever.


Home Editor

From 2014-2019 Grace Beuley Hunt held the role of Home Editor covering interior design, styling, trends and more.