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Kitchen island ideas

Kitchen island ideas for the very heart of your home

Our kitchen island ideas will help you choose the perfect central unit. With the move towards larger, open-plan kitchen extensions, the kitchen island has become an essential feature. It can be long and slim, running parallel to the work area; neat and round in a compact room; or big and broad, housing a sink and appliances.

An island unit has lots to bring to a kitchen design scheme. It can provide extra prep space and form a boundary between the cooking zone and the living/dining area. A shaped island unit can also help direct the flow of traffic away from busy hotspots.

Almost all kitchen islands incorporate seating - even the smallest space can usually accommodate an overhang of worktop and a pair of bar stools, although more of us are opting for long kitchen islands with integrated low-level, table-style seating at one end.

Functions aside, the change of pace offered by a kitchen island often encourages a variation in material. You can afford to be braver here with a bolder finish or colour, or perhaps a more expensive material that would be prohibitive across an entire room. An island will define a kitchen, forming a division between dining and living spaces. For this reason, at least the facing part of the island should be in warm and welcoming materials to make a transition from efficient kitchen surfaces.

For a show-stopping centrepiece look to luxury materials, from deeply veined marble and mottled granites to exotic timber veneers and gleaming mirrored glass or burnished metal. There's a trend towards more textured materials, think raw or rough-sawn wood, honed or flamed stone tops, as well as a contrast of colour or finish between the island and the rest of the kitchen. And don't forget kitchen island lighting - it can turn a good-looking unit into a showstopper of a kitchen centrepiece.

Mark the importance of an island with feature lighting

Make your kitchen island stand out by going for an unusual colour and hanging a feature light above. This lilac and copper scheme brings colour and glamour to a room not readily associated with either. Colour-matched curtains in the dining area continue the theme with a second pendant light to match the first.

Pendant lights
Holloways of Ludlow
Curtain fabric
Designers Guild

Want more design inspiration? Take a look at these showstopping kitchen ideas and our pick of the best kitchen storage ideas

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Photograph by James Merrell