These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

8 Kitchen Island Ideas to Whet Your Appetite

These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

Looking for kitchen island ideas that won't take over your entire cooking space? In many households the kitchen is the center of the home—and more and more, the natural gathering place in the kitchen is around the island.

Kitchen island ideas can show you that these useful features come in a variety of sizes and materials to accommodate your floor plan, but they all provide storage and a useful surface alternative to your counters.

To understand an island's true value, you'll need to understand just how many purposes this awesome amenity can be used for.

Consider these eight unique styles—and how each can make your life better, if you choose correctly.

1. Kitchen island ideas with a cooktop

If you love to cook and regularly host Thanksgiving, the prospect of four more burners is exciting. You can also put a grill or griddle option on the island and use the main stove's burners for regular pots and pans. But if you have little ones around you might want to think twice before installing a cooktop burner.

“If there are small children in the house, you'll lessen the chance of burns and other accidents by putting the cooktop along the perimeter of the kitchen, rather than on an island,” explain Melissa Fenigstein and Linda Pravata, designers with New Age Interiors, in Syosset, NY.

Organizing pro Jamie Novak of Bite Size Living also notes, “You'll need a hood or other ventilation for a cooktop, and these can be eyesores if they're in the wrong place.”

Photo by Renewal Design-Build – A cooktop island will revolutionize your Thanksgiving cooking.

2. Kitchen island with a wine fridge included

Installing a kitchen island with a wine refrigerator will net you extra storage in your main refrigerator, a temperature-controlled environment for your most prized bottles, and extra seating for your guests. If you enjoy hosting wine tastings, this style works well.

But be sure to consider the height of the mini bar top and how much food prep you'll end up doing here. A counter-level kitchen island will display any mess you make.

If you plan to chop and dice, consider a two-level version, with the lower portion on the prep side and the higher portion on the seating side, suggests Fenigstein.

Photo by Lilija Gelazis AIA – Is your house the designated dinner party destination each weekend? Consider a kitchen island with a wine fridge.

3. Wash and prep space

An extra sink for washing lettuce and filling the kettle makes this a worthy kitchen island idea. You can also customize the surface to include a cut-resistant wood countertop or a marble counter to roll out pastry.

“There's always someone who needs to wash their hands while the main sink is occupied,” Pravata notes.

But keep in mind a prep sink is just for small tasks, Novak says. “Trying to wash bigger items means water all over.”

You'll also lose storage underneath the sink because the plumbing has to be accommodated.

Photo by Yvonne McFadden LLC – Meal prep is a breeze with an extra sink and space to chop.

4. Super storage

Who doesn't want more storage, especially in the kitchen? Shelves for cookbooks, a wine rack, a bin for firewood, or glass-front cabinets for serving dishes are all possibilities with this storage island idea.

The drawback: These cabinets are low to the ground and require some deep knee-bends to put things away.

“The lighting in these spaces isn't great, so you might have to install cabinet or drawer lights to see what's inside,” notes Novak.

Photo by Neuhaus Design Architecture, P.C. – Keep cookbooks, pots, and extra dishes where they belong: beneath your kitchen island.

5. Pet center

We all know the family dog really rules the house, so why not give Hootch his own area in the center of the action? A built-in crate can have a spot for water and food bowls, dedicated hooks for the leash, and a drawer for his toys and shampoo. Keep in mind, though, that it needs to be kept pristine.

“Stray pet food can attract insects, and animal fur flies all over,” says Novak.

Dog beds can stink up the place, and some pets might just drool and beg for food all day if their main hangout is in the kitchen. Bottom line: Know thy pet.

Photo by Betsy Bassett Interiors – Give pets a comfy place to hang out in the most popular part of the house.

6. Homework station

A two-level island with stools provides your tweens an area to finish their algebra homework while you whip up dinner. The downside? Clutter.

“You've got to stay on top of the paper piles or it'll end up looking a huge mess,” points out Novak. Find a place to stash notebooks, pens, and paper, or adopt a system to keep homework supplies organized.

Photo by Crisp Architects – Finish dinner and help the kids with their homework.

7. Island on wheels

Move this portable island near you when you need an extra surface, and push it to a corner of the kitchen when it gets a bit crowded. A rolling kitchen island can also be shoved to the side when you need to mop. But some homeowners might not the impermanence of this island. Just make sure not to lean on it too hard or it could roll away.

Photo by BlueWaterPictures- Dennis Anderson photographer – The most versatile kitchen island is the one that can move to any area of the kitchen.

8. Built-in booth

Stools are nice, but they're not nearly as comfortable as a built-in banquette. A kitchen island with this kind of seating creates a cozy gathering spot for breakfast, and it can be used as a makeshift home office space when the kids are at school.

Photo by A. Dodson's – Your kitchen will feel a cozy corner of your favorite diner.

Source: https://www.realtor.com/advice/home-improvement/kitchen-island-ideas/

These Kitchen Island Ideas Make Every Meal a Culinary Adventure

These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

Most people don't realize how much thought goes into choosing a kitchen island. At first glance, it's the same built-in piece of furniture that sits in the middle of a kitchen.

But to get the kitchen island that will suit your space perfectly, there are a million tiny details that come into account: What stone will I pick for the countertop? How thick will the countertop be? Do I want storage, seating space, or both? Do I want a sink, a stovetop, both, or neither? What about a dishwasher? Need extra counter space to make handmade pasta or roll out puff pastry? Here are 11 kitchen island ideas that will get you there.

Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

Make space for dining. In this open-plan modern kitchen, the extra-long and narrow kitchen island features one half that is empty underneath to allow space for counter stools, making it a versatile solution.

Bauer Media/Trunk Archive

Embrace the black marble look. Carrara marble is nice, but dramatic black marble is (arguably) better. Make a statement with an island made one thick slab of natural stone.

Courtesy of Elizabeth Roberts Architecture

Have it face the window. Common practice is to have counter stools facing the wall where cooking and prep happens, but what if you made them face a window? Now that's a much more pleasant view.

Courtesy of Pella Hedeby

Build in your stovetop. Many people shy away from stovetops on kitchen islands because of the limited rangehood options, but in this Scandinavian kitchen, the range hood was concealed in a ribbed glass case, giving it a chic, minimal look.

Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Use a counter table. You don't have to make your kitchen island built-in necessarily. In this Hamptons kitchen, interior designer Jessica Helgerson used a counter-height dining table in lieu of an island.

Courtesy of Jean Charles Tomas

Choose a statement stone. A deeply veined marble will create a striking statement in your kitchen, especially if it also matches your countertop and backsplash. Make all your surfaces the same to create beautiful continuity throughout your space.

Courtesy of Catherine Kwong Design

Maximize your storage space. Kitchen islands are often used as breakfast bars, but if this isn't your style, use the other side of your island for extra storage. If your dining table is nearby, you can store dinnerware and serveware so it's extra handy when you're setting the table.

Courtesy of Catherine Kwong Design

Paint it a few shades darker than your cabinet. For a layered tone-on-tone look, paint your island just a few shades darker than your lower cabinets, keeping the same countertop stone throughout. You'll barely notice the difference, but it'll make your space feel more custom and layered.

Courtesy of BHDM Design

Carve out a nook for stools. In a traditional island, don't forget to carve out legroom for seating. It'll allow for more storage space on the sides while enabling people to sit comfortably. It's the little details that make a world of a difference.

Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Use it as a dining space. Most kitchen islands have storage built in, but in this narrow Portland kitchen, stools are tucked under an open island, providing plenty of seating and extra counter space, allowing the opposite wall to be floor-to-ceiling storage.

Courtesy of Jessica Helgerson Interior Design

Our last kitchen island idea? Use an antique table. An antique high table or a butcher block can make fantastic kitchen islands that provide extra surface space while being more versatile and providing character that a traditional island cannot.

Source: https://www.mydomaine.com/kitchen-island-ideas

All About Kitchen Islands

These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

Topping the list of must-haves in most kitchen renovations, an island is the perfect value-added improvement, one that transforms the way you use and enjoy the busiest room in your house.

Is a Kitchen Island a Good Idea?

At a minimum, an island adds counter and storage space just where you need them: at the pivot point between your kitchen's cooking, cleaning, and food-prep zones.

And outfitted with fixtures and appliances, such as a sink and cooktop, or bar stools for dining, an island itself can become the hub of activity.

Such utility is the reason builders and designers say that adding an island offers more bang for your buck than just about any other kitchen upgrade.

The first kitchen islands in America date to the colonial era. These simple worktables, situated near the hearth of the home, were where families prepped meals and then sat down to break bread.

Even after the advent of built-in cabinetry, and well into the first half of the 20th century, the island remained a freestanding piece of furniture, often with a look and style all its own.

The tradition continues today, as islands often integrate materials, colors, and design flourishes that are different from those of the surrounding wall cabinets, making them the focal point of the space.

In the following piece, you'll find all the information and DIY kitchen island ideas to create a kitchen island that's right for you—from the critical clearances for good traffic and workflow to the many ways you can customize it to suit your particular space and the way you cook and entertain.

A handcrafted island made of reclaimed chestnut stands apart from the painted wall cabinets.

Shown: Custom kitchen island, $15,000 (not including the countertop, sink, or faucet); Crown Point Cabinetry.

How much does a kitchen island cost?

Freestanding worktables or rolling carts can be had for as little as $200. Basic built-in islands made with stock cabinetry and butcher-block or stainless-steel counters start at about $600. More features, larger sizes, and costly materials can easily push the price above $5,000.

DIY or hire a pro?

Anyone can put in a worktable or cart. An island assembled from cabinetry is more of a challenge but doable for handy homeowners. Call in the pros for custom configurations if you plan to have plumbing fixtures and electric appliances or if you want a stone countertop (shown).

How big?

An island ought to have enough counter space to meet your needs, look proportional within the kitchen, and have ample pathways around its perimeter. For smaller kitchens, a worktable or rolling cart may be a better choice than a built-in.

Where to Put Your Island

Be sure to leave enough space on all sides to permit the free flow of traffic all around it and between the key activity zones centered around the stove, sink, and fridge.

Walkway Clearances

For two-cook kitchens or for universal design, which accounts for people with physical limitations or those who rely on a wheelchair, plan a 48-inch passageway on all sides.

Food-Prep Height

A 36-inch-high counter is standard, but 30 inches is best for kneading and rolling out dough because you can apply more downward force.

Dining and Cooking Dimensions

The higher a counter, the less overhang it needs. (Knees bend less on tall stools). The distance between the seat and the top of the counter is always the same—12 inches—which puts the surface at a comfortable height for eating.

Working

These furniture pieces, styled after vintage worktables, often have drawers and open shelves. Their “see-through” design takes up less visual space but makes it hard to hide utility lines.

Price: From $200 for a stainless-steel table to more than $3,000 for a custom wood one with turned legs and a stone top.

Similar to shown: Carrara Marble Kitchen Island with built-in wine rack, 24 by 49 inches, $1,399; NapaStyle

Storage

A basic freestanding or built-in island provides counter and cabinet space without the expense of sinks or major appliances. Open shelves, as shown here, can keep cookbooks and dishes handy.

Price: Starting at about $300 for a movable prefab unit and $800 for a semicustom built-in, not including the countertop.

Similar to shown: Belmont White Kitchen Island with sliding doors, 20½ by 44¼ inches, $499; Crate & Barrel

Prep and Wash

Sinks make islands ideal for washing hands and food and bartending for parties. Tuck bar sinks, this one, into corners to maximize counter space. Give full-size sinks at least 1 foot of counter on both sides.

Price: Built-ins with sinks tend to be bigger than storage units—at least 4 feet long—and pricier, about $1,000 and up. Sink, faucet, and counter are extra.

Similar to shown: Custom, painted-maple island, 24 by 48 inches, starting at $1,500; Plain & Fancy

Dining

An overhanging counter for casual eating needs space for knees, for diners to scoot chairs back, and for seating—at least 24 inches for each chair.

Price: About $800 for a prefab freestanding dining island to more than $5,000 for a custom built-in without a countertop.

Similar to shown: Broyhill Color Cuisine Kitchen Island with slide-out dining table, 30 by 56 inches, in nine colors, starting at $1,289; Wayfair

Cooking

A cooktop on an island turns the chef toward the center of the room so that he can keep an eye on the action. But un a range by a wall, a cooking island leaves hot pans more exposed and will cost more to ventilate.

Price: These built-ins are bigger than sink islands and typically cost $1,200 to $7,000, not including the cooktop or counter.

Similar to shown: Semi-custom maple island with cabinets and open shelves, 30 by 60 inches, about $1,200; HomeCrest Cabinetry

Cooking and Eating

If you plan to cook and dine on an island, opt for a raised eating counter to create a safety buffer against an open flame or scalding steam.

Movable Cart

It rolls into place on locking casters when you need it and the way when you don't. Most are small—24 by 36 inches—making them good for tight kitchens.

Similar to shown: John Boos Cucina Culinarte kitchen cart with butcher-block top, $519; Wayfair

Stock Cabinets

To build your own island with a couple of home-center base cabinets, just place them back-to-back, shim them level, and screw them together. Cover the sides with end panels and the top with a counter.

Similar to shown: Two 30-inch American Classics base cabinets in oak with drawers and end panels, $185 each, and Stonemark Absolute Black granite countertop, $70 per square foot; The Home Depot

L-Shaped

This configuration allows various activity zones to occupy a single island; one leg can have a cooktop, the other, a bar sink. Or devote one leg to food prep and one to dining. Here, the legs are topped with different counter materials set at varying heights and are connected by a raised block just for chopping.

T-Shaped

Grafting a kitchen table onto the back of an island is another way to integrate dining. The configuration shown here offers seating at the standard 30-inch table height, for maximum comfort. The table requires ample space: about 48 inches in length to seat four and at least that much on either side of the table to move chairs in and out.

Curved

Grafting a kitchen table onto the back of an island is another way to integrate dining. The configuration shown here offers seating at the standard 30-inch table height, for maximum comfort. The table requires ample space: about 48 inches in length to seat four and at least that much on either side of the table to move chairs in and out.

Sinks

Whether it's big, to handle full-on dinner cleanup, or small, for rinsing veggies and wine glasses, your sink needs a drain that's vented.

With no wall to hide the vent pipe, island sinks can be vented either by running the pipe under the floor and connecting it to the nearest existing vent or by mounting an air-admittance valve on the drain under the sink.

These valves are simpler to connect, but check local building codes; some municipalities don't allow them.

Dishwashers

A dishwasher makes a perfect companion for an island sink. Put them close together, no more than a step apart, for convenience and so that they can share the same drain.

A conventional dishwasher is one option, although its hinged, drop-down door may cause traffic jams.

Slide-out dishwasher drawers (shown) take up a fraction of the floor space when open and come in a variety of sizes with one- and two-drawer configurations. The downside? They're not cheap.

Refrigeration

An under-counter fridge, ice-maker, or wine cooler (shown) put food, supplies, or drinks within reach where guests and family members gather.

Choose a swing-out door or a slide-out drawer how much floor space you have around your island.

Appliances that vent out the front take up less room inside the island than ones with coils in the back, which require at least 2½ inches of space around the sides and back to stay cool.

Cooktops

If your island (and budget) is big enough to handle one, a cooktop allows the chef to survey the room rather than face a wall. Pros recommend a minimum of 12 inches on the sides and 9 inches behind the top.

For electric units, you'll need a pro to install a dedicated 240-volt circuit; for gas models, a plumber can install the supply line. If you want the benefits of gas—quick adjustments, high power—with the simplicity of an electric hookup, go with an induction cooktop.

Whichever type of top you choose, pair it with a vent to handle smoke, steam, and odors. Choose either the more effective overhead canopy, which vents up through the ceiling, or the less obtrusive downdraft vent, which sends smoke through the floor.

Both options must move at least 150 cubic feet per minute (cfm) for each linear foot of cooktop. Also, make sure there's a way to run the ductwork outside with few bends and within the maximum distance specified by the manufacturer.

Stone

Good for islands because it stands up to hard use and hot pots. Its cool surface is perfect for making pastry.

Stainless Steel

A favorite for worktables in commercial kitchens because it shrugs off water, heat, and germs. Pair it with a cutting board for food prep to prevent scratches.

Butcher Block

The best material for chopping; it doesn't dull knife edges, and any nicks and scratches can be sanded out. Treat it with mineral oil for a food-safe finish.

Wine Storage

Store bottles in a built-in rack, where they're easy to grab. Styles include crisscross grids, cubbies, and open shelves lined with scalloped inserts (shown). Minimum rack depth is 12 inches. Costs up to 40 percent more than closed cabinets.

Shown: Custom, painted cherry island with Florentine curved inset doors; Rutt

Appliance Cubbies

Control clutter by stowing small appliances. Microwaves need at least 1 inch of clearance on all sides for airflow. Cubbies with finished interiors add about 20 percent to a cabinet's cost.

Similar to shown: Custom cabinet in hickory; Plain & Fancy

Stylish Supports

Countertops that cantilever out more than 1 foot need support. A pair of decorative turned legs costs about 50 percent more than plain angle irons.

Similar to shown: Narrow Islander leg in maple; Osborne Wood Products, Inc.

Baking Center

A dropped-down station 6 inches lower than the rest of the island is ideal for kneading pastry or rolling out pizza dough. A dual-height island typically costs the same as one on the same plane.

Shown: Quincy2 cabinets in maple; QualityCabinets

Pet Station

Cater to your dog or cat with a spot for bowls and kibble. Here, food and water dishes rest on a shelf lined with stainless steel. A custom liner from a sheet-metal fabricator will add about 30 percent to the cost of a $1,000 storage island this one.

Shown: Custom bamboo island; R & J Cabinets

Open Shelves

When you want cookbooks close at hand, provide shelves at least 10 inches deep and 12 inches high, or size them to your biggest books. An attached bookcase can add 20 percent to the island's cost.

Similar to shown: Custom bookcase in painted maple; Plato Woodwork, Inc.

Source: https://www.thisoldhouse.com/kitchens/21018190/all-about-kitchen-islands

70 Best Kitchen Island Ideas – Stylish Designs for Kitchen Islands

These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

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Simple Metal Shelving

A simple farmhouse table is given an added level of storage with the addition of a hanging metal basket. The metal tone is echoed in the sink faucet and overhead pendant lighting for a cohesive look throughout.

SHOP FARMHOUSE TABLES

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Antique Kitchen Island

This blue-gray island is an antique given a second life as a kitchen island. The deep bottom shelf fits everything from produce to baskets. Pairing it with rustic tripod stools creates contrast with the modern cabinetry and finishes in the space.

SHOP RECLAIMED WOOD

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Tone-on-Tone Countertops

This circa-1875 loft in Columbia, TN, was renovated by Mike Wolfe from American Pickers and includes an expansive island with black marble atop black-painted cabinets for a sleek vibe mellowed by exposed brick walls, perfectly rusted signs, and leather barstools.

SHOP BARSTOOLS

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Refrigerated Island

Snacks and drinks are kept at the ready in the refrigerated drawers of this party barn's kitchen island, while the deep blue paint color (Lead Gray by Benjamin Moore) mingles with the raw wood for nautical charm.

SHOP BLUE FURNITURE PAINT

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Country Charm

This one-of-a-kind kitchen island is an old printing press worktable. The drawers, which once held type pages, are now home to cooking utensils, freeing up space from the countertops.

SHOP FARMHOUSE TABLES

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Drawers, Drawers, Drawers!

Your kitchen island shouldn't just take up space; it should create space. Adding drawers is one easy way to make that happen.

SHOP BLUE FURNITURE PAINT

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Small on Size

“Go big or go home” just doesn't apply with kitchen islands. Yes, it's nice to have more prep space, but you can make do with a smaller island and still keep it looking stylish—just take a look at this one as an example.

SHOP KITCHEN COUNTERS

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Dark Shades

All-white kitchens are lovely, but don't be afraid to opt for darker hues. Here, a more intensely-colored stone pairs beautifully with forest green paint for an island that's truly memorable.

SHOP GREEN PAINT

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Farmhouse Table

We love the idea of using a large farmhouse table as a kitchen island. Bonus points if it's made of reclaimed wood or boasts a similarly vintage vibe!

SHOP FARMHOUSE TABLES

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Blue Marble

Marble is so stately and luxurious all on its own, it's true. But when you add in an unexpected color combination, you've got yourself a veritable statement piece.

SHOP MARBLE KITCHEN ISLANDS

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Creative Stool Placement

Keep your company close while you prepare the meal! By placing stools right in front of the cooking station, you'll be able to chat with your friends and finish up dinner.

SHOP BAR STOOLS

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Rolling Island

A rolling island is ideal for anyone who loves to entertain. Simply move it the way, and you've got yourself a huge space to host parties…or do just about whatever you please!

SHOP ROLLING ISLANDS

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Bar Area

There's something so friendly and welcoming about a kitchen island that doubles as a bar. Add a few stools, bowls of your favorite snacks, and you've got yourself a party.

SHOP BAR STOOLS

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Antique Table

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Bold Blue

Thanks to its central placement, the kitchen island is a natural focal point, which you can enhance even further with a vivid hue. Here, a coat of Sherman Williams' “Pool Blue” paint makes the two-level island pop against the panel-covered interior of this barn.

SHOP BLUE PAINT

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Opposite Styles

A sleek and polished marble countertop looks beautifully juxtaposed with chippy, industrial barstools and other antique finds. The refined island works to offset the other textures and colors featured throughout this Texas home's kitchen.

SHOP BAR STOOLS

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Retro Bar Stools

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Rolling Cart

An inexpensive and versatile rolling cart is a must-have for folks who love to entertain. “We pull it right up to the sink. It can go out on the deck as a bar. It’s a major workhorse,” homeowner Ted says.

SHOP ROLLING CARTS

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Reclaimed Wood

Preserve the character and history of your home by installing a kitchen island crafted from original materials. The owner of this Tennessee retreat used chippy wainscoting sourced from the front porch to outfit this piece.

SHOP RECLAIMED WOOD

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Narrow Cart

Think your kitchen is too small for an island? Think again! This slim rolling cart feels just right in this small space. “It’s our mobile cutting board,” says homeowner Kelley.

SHOP NARROW CARTS

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Two-Tier Island

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Minimalist Wood Island

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Mixed Material Island

This kitchen—with its quartz countertops, copper light fixtures, subway tiles, and a cypress kitchen island—is proof that mixing textures and materials is a winning design strategy.

SHOP COPPER LIGHT FIXTURES

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Lush Island

Source: https://www.countryliving.com/home-design/decorating-ideas/advice/g1429/kitchen-islands/

9 Kitchen Island Ideas to Make Your Next Party Perfect

These Kitchen Island Ideas Will Improve Every Meal

The kitchen is the heart of the home and, these days, it’s usually the heart of the party as well. As more homes are built with an open concept kitchen and living space, the kitchen island has become a bridge, a serving station, and a gathering place. Read on for nine ways to put your island to work for your next shindig.

First, some ground rules for setting up, courtesy of Kitchn:

1. Control the flow. Give your guests deliberate start and end points for loading up on food and drinks.

2. While we’re on the topic of drinks, place your bar or drink setup strategically away from the food. If the main spread of food is on the kitchen island, you can utilize another countertop or table to house your drinks.

3. Plates first. Cutlery last.

4. Put out multiple stacks of extras. Preferably the way of the culinary masterpieces on display.

5. Put your most plentiful (or cost-effective) offerings at the front of the buffet, to ensure they last to the last person through the line. With that the way, let’s have some island fun!

Photo credit: Half Pint Party Design

Photo credit:Pinterest

Photo credit: Pillsbury

Circus birthdays, football watch parties, movie night, all the winter holidays… the list of available themes is limited only by your imagination. Let your theme inform your food and drink choices and enhance the island with themed decor. Overwhelmed by the thought of an all-encompassing theme? Remember that simple elegance (with a single color for your decor) can also be a theme.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Flowers and other greenery interspersed with the food items on your island create a fresh, elegant look. Play with color, seasonality, and texture to create a truly spectacular spread. And speaking of texture…

Photo credit: Apartment Life

While their primary purpose is protection, table coverings can be worked into the design and enhance the overall experience of the buffet.

Try covering the island in butcher paper and use markers to guide your guests. This whimsical application serves a dual purpose of creating visual interest and steering party-goers through the line.

Plus, waffles! Or nachos, low country boil, or cupcakes. The variations are endless.

Photo credit: Instagram

Islands come in many shapes and sizes, but don’t let that ruin your menu planning. Opt for tiered or pedestal servers and feel free to use other household items to create height and additional space for placing your delectable offerings.

Photo credit: Life with Fingerprints

Add some fun and flair to your buffet by using the space above your island for decoration. This not only looks great, it acts a flashing neon sign to guests that “THE FOOD IS HERE.”

Photo credit: Randi Garrett Design

Photo credit: Pinterest

Since we eat with our eyes first, serving food in interesting or unusual ways creates a sense of excitement and wonder for your guests. Work with your theme, let your creativity guide you, and create playful, inviting nibbles that everyone will line up for.

Photo credit: Pinterest

Regardless of what Pinterest and Instagram would have you believe, not everything you serve has to be made from scratch. Increase your efficiency and take some pressure off yourself by picking a few signature items to cook from the heart — leaving the professionals to handle the rest.

Photo credit: Ruffled

Labeling food and drink, especially on an island full of gastronomic delights, is very important. Guests with food allergies, dietary restrictions, or picky children will appreciate the relevant information about what you’re serving, and — with all your offerings labeled — your guests will know exactly how to refer to your famous Potatoes Lyonnaise when they beg you for the recipe.

Photo credit: The Feed

Cheese, Tom Hanks, is almost universally adored. For a truly winning addition to your party, visit your local cheesemonger (or grocery store) and pick a selection of cheeses, meats, and accoutrements that will let your guests dig into their favorites or adventure toward something new. Need some guidance? Start here and don’t forget your labels.

Now that you’re ready to party, what time should we come over?

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