A kitchen island adds so much to what is already many people’s favorite room; it gives you more room to prep and cook while also providing more storage for your culinary tools. It also elevates a kitchen aesthetically by establishing a focal point that’s often the center of a downstairs living space. But, perhaps most importantly, an island can be a space for loved ones to gather and share fond memories while creating new ones.

Now that you're aware of all the benefits of having a kitchen island, we need to tackle a whole other challenge: how to make one work in your home. Fortunately, we have a few key concepts for you to keep in mind when you decide to add a kitchen island in your home.

Galley Kitchen

Ebb and Flow

​Kitchens comes in all different shapes and sizes, and the same is true for islands. But a kitchen island can only be as helpful as it relates to the flow of your kitchen. Do you want a large island so it can be the de facto center of the party, or would you prefer other smaller island that provides a more cozy, intimate setting? Knowing how many people you want to be able to sit at the island will help dictate the size and shape.

​Speaking of space, you'll also need to know whether or not to add amenities such as a dishwasher (which is a huge space saver here) or a sink. Relocating your main sink to the island means you'll have more uninterrupted countertop space, especially in a galley kitchen.

Galley Kitchen

This can also give you the opportunity to really expand the size of your sink. However, if you’re the type who makes huge meals, adding a smaller prep sink to your island while keeping your main sink in the galley is perfect.

A kitchen island also helps to define the boundaries between the kitchen and the dining and living rooms, especially when it comes to open-concept floorplans. Considering how many different layouts a home could have, the angle your island sits at may need to be atypical; why stop there though? There are a variety of interesting shapes that can elevate the style and functionality of your island! More unusual, curved shapes have a natural appeal.

Galley Kitchen

If that's too out there for you, worry not; just by sectioning off your island to fit the specific kitchen flow or seating arrangement can make it feel less standard and square. This is a fantastic if you want the island to function as a multi-purpose space, which I'm sure the kids will appreciate when they need homework help while you're cooking dinner.

Kitchen Island

Style and Substance

We know that an island can improve the functionality of your kitchen but how it looks within the kitchen is an important factor we cannot overlook. While it may seem obvious, you'll want to make sure your island matches or complements your existing cabinets and countertops.

​Quartz countertops are always stunning, but they're also wonderful because they're very low-maintenance; though granite and marble countertops are equally impressive, they're also porous, so they can be permanently stained and scratched, unlike quartz countertops.

Kitchen Island

You'll most likely want to include cabinets in your island to give you even more storage space. But there's no reason these cabinets have to be plain! Simply painting them a bold color can add a lot of wow factor to your kitchen.

​For those of you who are intimidated by bolder color schemes, think about it this way: an island already grabs your attention as soon as you walk into the kitchen, so lean into that! Besides, the island will always be below your line of sight, so the contrast can be extra striking, especially if the walls and upper cabinet are bright white. Add brass hardware to the cabinets or even the sink and you’ll have an island deserving of a chef’s kiss.

Kitchen Island

​Don’t forget that the non-cabinet sides of your island can showcase stylish design details as well! Tactile paneling will add a tasteful vibe that's both modern and timeless. If you really love your countertop material, there's also the option for a waterfall edge—where that material wraps one or more sides vertically down to the floor—for a powerful visual statement.

​You'll definitely want to add a couple of inconspicuous power outlets somewhere in the island; this has the double benefit of giving you a place to plug in those electric cooking utensils and a place to charge your laptop if you prefer to check your morning emails right where the coffee is brewing.

Kitchen Island

Brighten Up Your Day

​Lighting is very important when deciding to add an island. Similar to the island itself, the lighting fixture(s) needs to work stylistically with the rest of your kitchen. Pendant lighting never goes out of style and will give your kitchen an elegant touch of class while also making it more functional for prepping and cooking.

Putting in dimmable lights is also recommended; this way, you can have it nice and bright when you’re prepping and dim and relax when you’re entertaining friends with a cocktail.

Pendant Lights

​A good recommended height to hang pendant lights is between 30" and 36" above your countertops. You'll also want to be sure they're appropriately spaced over the island; while there are numerous variables depending on the size and style of both your lights and the island, you'll most likely want at least 6" of space between where the light fixtures hang and the edge of the counter.

Kitchen Island With Bookshelf

​The great Julia Child once said, “The more you know, the more you can create. There’s no end to imagination in the kitchen.” A standard kitchen island is great, but if you truly want to take yours to the next level, there are so many intriguing ways to upgrade your island.

I've seen everything from ingenious, DIY islands repurposed from old tables to professional designs where cabinets have been replaced with beverage drawers and coolers to create a swanky, yet discreet bar. A personal favorite of mine are islands that have a bookshelf built in for your cookbooks! Just know that whatever you want your kitchen island to be, there are a few ways to make it happen.


Derrick White


As a Web Content Coordinator at M/I Homes, Derrick’s role is to help manage all content on our website, as well as our social media presence. Along with his marketing knowledge, he is also experienced in full-stack software development. A native of Columbus, Ohio, Derrick is an avid lover of music, cats, coffee, spicy foods, and bad puns.