When it comes to the best kitchen island trends, it can be a minefield of designs, colors and materials. With ample space for entertaining, generous storage space and room for the latest gadgets, a kitchen island is at the top of most homeowners’ wish lists, so unleash the full potential of this coveted kitchen centerpiece through bold shapes, materials and design twists.
With exciting new kitchen brands popping up and plenty of innovative design ideas and clever twists on older designs showing up in kitchen showrooms across the US, there are plenty of trendy looks and contemporary designs to choose from.
With this in mind, we spoke to some of our favorite kitchen designers and kitchen trend experts to find out which kitchen island trends will be big in 2023, making choosing a beautiful new kitchen island an easy decision.
Trends on the kitchen island
Below we take a look at the biggest kitchen island trends and new kitchen ideas and kitchen photos to help you decide if a new kitchen island is an option for you.
1. A social island
Activate the ergonomic benefits of curves to get the party started. Curvaceous design, once popular in the 1980s, is back in fashion. Voluptuous or gently rounded, flowing design will elevate a kitchen layout and soften the overall look of your room, adding a bold design focus or a subtle touch of design to your kitchen.
“A round island works best for entertaining, especially in kitchens with multiple entrances and exits, making it easier for guests to socialize and encouraging a smooth transition between spaces,” said Shehryar Khan, director of Sheraton Interiors (opens in new tab). “A curved island can also include a larger seating area, allowing guests to comfortably eat and socialize around the island.”
2. An island suitable for the whole family
Catering to cooking, dining, socializing and relaxing, the latest trend for improved family kitchens suggests we should look for an island design that will appeal to the whole family.
Whether on an island or a peninsula, a breakfast bar will greatly elevate the social status of your kitchen. Encourage guests to settle down and steer clear of the cook by choosing bar stools for both comfort and appearance. A high-backed upholstered stool provides the same support as a dining room chair. Also pay attention to the height and the number of seats.
“Line seating is great at the sushi bar, but not for kitchen islands, so three is the magic number for straight-line seating,” says Peter Humphrey, Humphrey Munson’s director of design and founder. (opens in new tab). “If you need four stools, wrap them around one end of the island so it’s cozier.” When choosing your bar stools, always check the dimensions and have them drawn into the kitchen design to make sure they fit perfectly with plenty of room to move.’
3. Statement Islands With a “Waterfall Edge”
Glamor and elegance will return in 2023. Although the kitchen is a functional space, that doesn’t mean it can’t have personality and style. “Don’t be afraid to experiment and take risks with modern materials,” says interior designer Kelly Wearstler. ‘Glamor and style can be introduced into a kitchen through material and color choices without sacrificing functionality.’
A popular design feature, a “waterfall edge,” means that the kitchen countertop continues seamlessly from horizontal to vertical. “Deep-veined marbles look especially fantastic, especially if you buy a slab big enough for the veins to flow all the way to the floor,” enthuses Oana Sandu, lead designer, Blakes London (opens in new tab). “It’s important to think about the floor and how it complements your countertop—usually a contrast works best.”
4. Dynamic design
Think outside the box with an island shape that’s totally unique. “It is a brave step to move beyond classic rectangular designs, but the reward can be huge in terms of visual impact.
Here we designed the island to look like a beautiful piece of furniture. It reflects the adventurous personality of the owners, while also helping to organize the open space,” explains Jane Powell, designer, Roundhouse. (opens in new tab).
5. Naturally modern materials
Due to the switch to sustainable kitchen design and natural materials, more and more people will turn to wood in 2023.
While many of us are tempted to have painted kitchen joinery because of its ease of cleaning, varnished natural wood, with its innate beauty, sets an artisanal and interesting tone. “Wood has been used to make furniture for kitchens for hundreds of years,” says designer Sebastian Cox (opens in new tab). ‘Seeing how a piece of furniture is made and understanding its shape makes it incredibly beautiful.’
For a truly unique island design, look to naturally unique materials. “We like using materials made by nature in a very contemporary way,” says Achala Knights, head of design at minoticucine London (opens in new tab). The contrast between the natural fluidity of defined wood grain or heavily veined marble against the sharp lines of modern cabinetry feels unexpected. Due to the simple shape of our furniture, there is no visual distraction, only the beauty of nature.’
6. Size matters
Large kitchens offer the luxury of space – so add more features to suit your lifestyle. It is the perfect opportunity to include a spacious and glamorous island, perhaps placed in the center of the room so that you can enjoy its beautiful shape to the maximum.
Lavish kitchens call for an island with ample proportions to ensure it doesn’t seem lost in space. Here, Chiselwood used chunky countertops and outsized handles for a striking island. ‘The thickness of the worktop has been achieved by mitred deep strips along the perimeter. You get striking depth without too much weight on the cabinets below,” explains design director Martin Holliday.
7. Hidden joints
No one likes the look of often unsightly grout in their kitchen cabinets, and islands are the same. Do your best to hide them with materials that wrap around the island, or add features that can hide them; your guests will be none the wiser.
When plotting the size of your island, consider the impact it will have on countertop installation. “Joints can be very apparent on island units that are centrally positioned and designed to be noticed,” says Graeme Smith, head of retail design, Life Kitchens (opens in new tab). Islands longer than 3.5 m usually require two slabs of rock or quartz. “Adding wooden elements like chopping blocks or breakfast bars is a good way to mix materials and hide joints,” he says.
8. Shapely designs
With the emphasis on the kitchen as a family space, used for socializing and relaxing, as well as for preparing food, ordered rows of units and clinical design can look a bit stark, and that’s why H&G predicts that we will move away from ultra-modern interiors to more organic, soft forms for our islands.
Fluid forms bring movement and dynamism to this island, sculpted to facilitate smooth passage through an open-plan dwelling. The island, the work of Auhaus Architecture of Australia, is made of Australian hardwood with an oiled finish. Formed from vertical planks, the structure seems to rise from the floor below.
9. Ribbed details
Ready for the ultimate comeback, the fluted design once again elaborates its wavy charms.
Fluting can be much more than just a decorative surface. In this relatively narrow kitchen by Kitty Lee Architecture of Australia (opens in new tab)ease of movement around the island was crucial and whistling served a practical purpose.
“The grooved detail allowed us to create a beautiful feature around a curved shape, adding texture, warmth and contrast to the space, while also improving traffic flow and ergonomics,” says director Kitty Lee.
It is made with individual 30mm wide semicircular dowels in Tasmanian oak, a dense and resilient hardwood with excellent color properties.
Are islands going out of fashion?
Kitchen islands do not go out of style. We’d say kitchen islands are more popular than ever. If you’ve ever wondered if you should invest in an island, it’s worth hearing first about the benefits it could bring to your home.
An island makes the most of a spacious kitchen by putting functionality first. In a very large room, it will act as a bridge between the furniture on the perimeter, enhancing the working triangle and allowing more than one cook to comfortably work side by side. With the addition of catchy pendant lights or a striking work surface, it can become the design focal point of the room. In an open kitchen, use an island or peninsula to separate cooking and dining.
Connect water and electricity and your island becomes an impressive workhorse that can be equipped with cooking, washing and cooling appliances. “This frees up surfaces in the rest of the kitchen, but the island is also seen as an opportunity to have additional ovens or specialty appliances like a teppanyaki or barbeque grill,” adds Neil Lerner. (opens in new tab).
When can you not have a kitchen island?
A cooking island is not suitable for every type of kitchen. If your kitchen is less than 4 meters wide, we don’t even recommend a kitchen island at all. However, that’s not to say you can’t have one in a small kitchen. Today, there are many smaller options for kitchens with limited square footage.
“Size is everything,” says Peter Humphrey, Humphrey Munson’s design director and founder (opens in new tab). “The negative space, that is, the space between pieces of furniture, is just as important as the size of the unit itself. The golden rule is to allow 1-1.2m to move easily, but there are times when going narrower is warranted, such as when the dishwasher door is open. We almost exclusively use quartz countertops on our islands because they are low maintenance, easy to clean and come in jumbo slabs to avoid joints.”