For new kitchen designs and major remodels, a functional island is usually at the top of most people’s wish list. This is no surprise, as a well designed kitchen island can fill the most important kitchen functions, from food prep and cooking to storage, serving, cleaning and even socializing. In addition, with so many island styles and materials to choose from it can also serve as an architectural and design focal point of your dream kitchen.

When designing your kitchen its crucial determine the purpose of the island….which of the main kitchen functions are most important to incorporate into your island design? This will impact the island size, layout as well as appliance placement.

Will your island countertop be mainly for a prep/work space, or will it become a main focus of your kitchen with features such as the cook top and sink? If you want to incorporate your main cook top in your island, remember you’ll need a range hood. Adding a cook top can also affect the use of the island as a space for formal seating. If you locate your sink on the island be sure to have your dishwasher and trash and recycling bin there too.

Storage needs are also a major considering when designing your island. If the rest of your kitchen has limited storage you can design your island with cabinets and open shelving facing outward. There are other customizable storage options, such as a built in wine rack and chiller or pot rack to hang above the island.

One of the most popular functions of kitchen islands today is for social gathering and entertaining, so seating is a very important consideration. How will your family use the island? Will it be a place for meals and for kids to do their homework? Do you also want to use the island to entertain guests? These are all important considerations when designing your island layout and seating arrangement.

Lastly, a kitchen island gives you an opportunity to showcase your personality and make your own personal design statement. Consider adding a pop of color with different countertop and cabinet colors. You can also use different materials on the island as the rest of the kitchen. For instance, a butcher block wood island would contrast well with natural stone countertops.

Let’s take a look at some examples of modern kitchen islands that incorporate many of details mentioned above while also serving as a focal design point of the kitchen.

Sleek surfaces and clean lines define this kitchen island. The neutral stone countertop and dark wood island base provide a modern flair and high-contrast look.

Source: Erin Gates

A sleek white marble waterfall island provides a dramatic look in this kitchen.

Source: Smallworks

This example proves you can have a focal point island in a smaller kitchen. Despite its smaller size this island features ample storage and extra counter space as well as an overhang so stools can be neatly tucked under when not in use.

Ample seating was a priority with this kitchen island. Note the overhang with two columns providing plenty of legroom and seating depth. The large butcher block surface adds a farmhouse feel and striking contrast with this otherwise white understated kitchen.