Homes & Design Photo Credit: Ric Kokotovitch

How To Design the Perfect Kitchen Island

7 designer tips for crafting the ideal island.

The kitchen island is a magnet—the place where the kids beeline after school, where dinner party memories begin and late nights out end. So we’ve compiled seven intriguing design ideas from top-notch kitchens to inspire the centrepiece of your next kitchen reno.

Sally Douglas Kitchen_01
(Photo: Martin Tessler.)

1. Max out the size of the island.

This room is almost a square, so designer Juli Hodgson built the oversized island—over 11 feet long and four feet wide—to proportionally fill the space. Because homeowner Sally Douglas (seen here) and her husband, Mark Reid, have seven children between them (four of whom are still at home), a big island was important. “It’s where we spend all our time,” she says, “gathered around this counter in the kitchen, drinking wine and having a laugh.”

MORE: A Modern Take on an English-Style Kitchen

Sally Douglas Kitchen_06
(Photo: Martin Tessler.)

2. Embrace the imperfections.

“I’m a graphic designer, so I love things to be perfect and neat,” says homeowner Douglas. “And the thing this kitchen is teaching me is that the wooden counters I adore will stain and get marked and have chips in them. And I love that about the counter—it’s a living thing.”

young-kitchen-bar
(Photo: Ric Kokotovitch.)

3. Avoid a one-sided kitchen bar.

If you want your kitchen island to function as a seating area, create seating on both sides to avoid the “soldiers in a row” factor, says designer Connie Young; otherwise, it’s hard to talk to one another and you won’t use the space regularly.

MORE: Inside a Functional, Warm and Refined Kitchen

Kitchen 3
(Photo: Ric Kokotovitch.)

4. Choose countertops with visual texture.

Instead of all-white quartz, opt for a speckle or veining, or a material with texture so guests won’t easily notice stray crumbs, spots or water marks.

Kitchen 2
(Photo: Ric Kokotovitch.)

5. Go with glass.

“People have the perception that glass tables are very, very fragile,” says Young. “Glass is actually the most durable material you could possible use on a kitchen table. We chose the back-painted glass so it’s durable, but it gives that touch of glam to the space, too.”

nam-dang-french-kitchen
(Photo: Colin Way.)

6. Spread out the seating.

“It’s like a magnet; everybody goes to the kitchen island,” laughs designer Nam Dang-Mitchell. Because of this Calgary room’s open layout, there was lots of room for an extra-large design—this one seats four mix-and-matched barstools, thanks to an inset on either side, and still provides plenty of built-in storage and a wet sink.

MORE: See the whole Dang-Mitchell-designed kitchen here.

matchy
(Photo: Janis Nicolay.)

7. Forget matchy-matchy countertops.

Though the surrounding Caesarstone countertop is done in dark grey, the island is decked out in a honed white Statuarietto marble. It’s not as durable, but that’s part of the charm, says designer Denise Ashmore. “Marks and etchings are inevitable, and we want to embrace that. We’re comfortable with the idea of spots and scratches and the stories that come with them.”

MORE: Check out more pics of this modern white-and-wood kitchen.

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